By: Kathy Kent Toney, CEO & Founder of Kent Business Solutions
As an avid Chiefs fan, my mind is still on the incredible win the Chiefs had against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football last week.
The person who comes to mind is Jaylen Watson, the game's hero. He intercepted the ball on the Chargers three-yard line and ran it back for a 99-yeard touchdown. That’s pretty amazing in itself, one of the longest “Pick 6s” in Chiefs history and the longest go-ahead fourth-quarter Pick 6 by a rookie in NFL history.
But that’s not the only significant part. Jaylen's backstory is incredible. After committing to play football at USC, he had to de-commit after five months because of academic issues. He couldn't find a good job back in his home state of Georgia, so he took a job at Wendy’s while still finding somewhere to play football.
So why talk about all of this?
Here are some great leadership lessons about his life that I believe we can embrace to become more effective leaders:
1. Never Give Up and Never Give in
When the cards are stacked against you, rearrange the cards! Jaylen did that after he flunked out of USC. He realized the necessity to turn things around. So, when he landed at Washington State, he worked hard and ended up getting straight A’s while beginning to make a name for himself on the football field.
Lessons learned: stay determined to achieve your goals, no matter what obstacles or challenges stand in your way.
2. When Your Name is Called, Be Ready
Jaylen wasn't even supposed to be playing in this game. Trent McDuffie, another rookie, was injured in last week's season opener. Jaylen was the next man up. In his own words, he said, "I've just been working my butt off, and if the time came where someone went down, I was going to be ready and prepared, and that's what happened.”
Lessons learned: stay proactive in your day-to-day professional life. Sharpen your saw through learning opportunities. Make the most of mentoring relationships. Stay on top of your obligations, and don't forget to pass your wisdom on to others.
3. Anticipate Great Things to Happen
In a post-game interview, Jaylen said he woke up knowing he would get a Pick-6. Since he was a rookie and a seventh-round NFL draft pick (the bottom-of-the-barrel talent, in NFL speak), he knew the tests would come early from the Chargers quarterback, Justin Herbert. And when it happened, he was ready.
Lessons learned: envision your success, knowing you'll succeed in whatever comes your way. Be confident that great opportunities are on the horizon.
As business leaders, we would all do well to embrace these qualities: through never giving up, preparing ourselves to serve well, and envisioning our success, we will become better equipped to lead with excellence.
Speaking of leading with excellence, Michael Cantu and I discuss how to do this in our best-selling book, No-Nonsense Digital Transformation. We cover quite a few topics on leading well: transforming culture and mindset, effective project planning, and building productive teams, to name a few. So, this book would still be an excellent read, even if you're not interested in digital transformation!
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