How many of us have ever felt like Vince Young, quarterback for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans? He was once a heralded first round draft pick by the Titans but after a knee injury in his first game of the 2008 season, he was relegated to a backup role for the remainder of the year and first six games of 2009. It was only after the Titans started a woeful 0-6 this year that Young got a chance to start again. Since his return as a starter three weeks ago, Tennessee is now 3-6.
Vince Young’s story is still unfolding but haven’t we all been in his shoes before? I’m thinking specifically about our work. We’re good at what we do and receive accolades from our managers. Then, we make a mistake and are demoted to some form of a lesser role in the organization. Or we find ourselves entangled in a layoff. Or we simply find ourselves burnt out of the job. It becomes easy to just stop caring and giving our best. This quote from Young as told to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King shows how important it is to stay out of the muck and mire of self-defeating, internal dialogue.
A couple of times last year, when he was most frustrated, Vince Young would text Kobe Bryant, who had become something of a mentor. He’d write something like, “Man, I wanna play so bad. What do I do?” The answer would always come back from Bryant with something like this: “Stay focused. Work on your craft.”
When we’re faced with bad situations in our work, often the best solution is to remember that its temporary and can turn around at any point. We need to stay focused and committed to improving our selves and our capabilities. You never know when you’ll be asked to return to the starting lineup with a chance to be even better than before.