Play for a Purpose that is Bigger than the Game Itself

Career Lessons from Professional Football

Several days ago I watched an ESPN interview of Hall Of Fame running back Curtis Martin. I was struck by something he said: “I had to play for a purpose that is bigger than the game, itself”.  He explained that he was never a fan of football. He had the talent but not the love for the game. He was even reluctant about going pro. It was not until he saw football as a means to a much greater end — in his case being able to do wonderful things for other people that he loved—that he was able to throw himself with huge success, into his professional career with the Patriots and the Jets.

I was so impressed with his message that I went on to read his entire Hall of Fame acceptance speech. Its application to everyone, young or old, football fan or not, was evident. I particularly felt its relevance in business.

Know Your Bigger Purpose

Curtis Martin did not know whether he liked football enough to try to make a career of it. Growing up he was more concerned with surviving life on the streets, than with playing sports. Fortunately he discovered and “lined up with” his bigger purpose for playing the game. As a result, he soared in his football career and became the fourth leading rusher in NFL history. Essentially he made a commitment to what he truly valued that inspired him to take the actions on and off the field to make it happen.

What do you value so highly that regardless of circumstances, you would do your best work to achieve it?  Your answer is your bigger purpose.

Connect Your Position to Your Bigger Purpose

Compare the example of Curtis Martin to the current business environment. These are tough times with high unemployment, lackluster job growth and major financial uncertainty. Many professionals feel stuck in their jobs and unable to consider a career move even if they’re unhappy. They get mired in the negativity and lose sight of their ability to thrive under any circumstances.

Just like Curtis Martin, you choose how you will play the game in any situation. Your response to what is going on around you, dictates your experience and your outcome. You can approach your position with proactive energy or bottom out with pessimism. When you connect your position to your bigger purpose, you stay on track toward achieving what you most value. You look for ways to deliver your best work and before you know it, your “inspired” actions add up to greater satisfaction and success.

You and your company both win………..

What works for you? How do you play for a purpose that is bigger than the game itself?

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