Saying you want to be the Tom Brady of your industry or business is like saying you want to be Steve Jobs. Guess what...ain't gonna happen. The elite of the elite don't have the same struggles as the "common" business person.
When you look at the NFL and the players who are great, it's not always the best ones you want to emulate. While these guys are also work horses and film junkies, they are simply exceptional.
Waking up is hard on certain days. Managing people is a challenge. These four NFL stars are ones that worked to achieve:
1. Wes Welker took average speed and talent, and combined it with superior preparation and effort and turned it into 10 tremendous years. He took advantage of what most people don't realize they have: an opportunity.
After starting his career with the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins, he got the opportunity to play for arguably the best coach and best quarterback in NFL history, and he increased his work ethic and conditioning.
If you hit a wave, don't just ride it. Push yourself and take advantage of the opportunity.
2. Tom Waddle may be a name most fans don't know or remember outside of Chicago where he played a few years professionally. Waddle was a terrific high school football player in Cincinnati and parlayed it to a scholarship to Boston College and a career with the Bears.
Waddle was slow and not nearly as talented as his peers in the NFL. He practiced every day like it was the Super Bowl because he wanted it.
Imagine your sales team coming in every day and hitting the phones so hard. Every call was the best call. Coming in early and staying late. Working when you're sick because you are so excited just to be there.
Side note on Waddle: He played so hard for only a few years, that he parlayed his career into a very nice radio and television career. Hard work pays off in many, many ways.
3. Vince Papale. Never heard of him? Watch the movie Invincible. Papale was a diehard Philadelphia Eagles fan. A blue-collar guy who hadn't played college football. The Eagles had an open try out, and he made the team. He played for three years and scored a touchdown.
Everyone told Papale he was crazy and didn't have a chance.
Have a dream. Work hard. Fill out that RFP you think your company is too small to win. Build relationships with contacts at companies you wish you could do business with.
When you really want something, no matter the odds, don't listen to the naysayers, follow your dreams.
4. Cameron Wake plays defensive line for the Miami Dolphins. He played college football at Penn State but went undrafted in the NFL. Rather than give up on his dream, he went to the Canadian Football League.
Wake went north of the border to prove he had the engine to make it. He was named rookie of the year and defensive player of the year in the same year!
He didn't want to give up and took a step down to play in the CFL, rather than not play. He then signed a multi-million dollar contract with the Miami Dolphins.
Tim Tebow, who gets all the publicity, chose to stop playing rather than show his wares in the CFL. It's not about the hype, it's about the execution.
I know sports analogies are so overused in business, but sometimes they are applicable. Most of the times they are not. In business, most salaries aren't multi-year guaranteed contracts. Employees don't usually grow up saying they want to be a marketing director, and HR leader, a salesperson or a CFO. Most kids dream of being professional athletes.
However, work ethic and attitude are important. Seeing people who had to overcome obstacles to achieve their dream because they didn't have the talent originally is motivating.
Don't underestimate the employee who doesn't look the best. Don't underestimate the person who doesn't have the industry experience. Sometimes you need people who have heart. First ones in and last ones to leave. Those people need some mentoring. They can make your team, and maybe be All-Pro.