Friday, July 25, 2008

How an "involuntary job change" can give you a different perspective

Came across a good story from the Associated Press yesterday about the New York Giants, last season's Super Bowl champions.

In the article, Giants coach Tom Coughlin says the team won because players put the "team over self." In the pro game, that's not easy. It's a credit to Coach Coughlin, his staff, and his players to be able to accomplish that.

But even more interesting was a quote by Giants tight ends coach Mike Pope (photo at left) about All-Pro TE Jeremy Shockey, who left the team to play in New Orleans. According to Pope, sometimes a player can be in one place too long.

What a true statement by Coach Pope (who, by the way, has coached in four Super Bowls).

So many times, GMs, coaches, and players have a hard time understanding this. It's also why people who have been fired or players who have been cut or waived appreciate things more. An "involuntary job change" gives them a different perspective.

Many young executives, even ones who've worked their way up, have never been fired. They've never gone through that in their career, so their perspective isn't always realistic. Now I'd never wish "getting fired" on anyone. What I'm saying is that it's enlightening. After growing up with a coach and going through it twice myself, I can vouch for just how illuminative it can be.

It's interesting, when you're fired and out of work, those who typically reach out are guys who've been fired. They've been through it. They understand what it's like, the intense and overwhelming disappointment. The sense of failure, of letting yourself and others down. That first conversation with your kids is gut-wrenching.

It's why a coach like Larry Brown is so willing to help others. He's been there.

Last year, a good friend mailed me a copy of a 2001 Fortune magazine article titled "A Manager For All Seasons" about Joe Torre. In it, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner says this about Torre:

"If you look at Joe, as a manager he got fired three places....I think Joe appreciated that a chance was taken in hiring him, because usually you go with someone who's successful. I mean, a guy who had been fired three times! Including the Mets -- he was fired by them. He was fired by St. Louis. For a guy who was fired three times, he's done pretty well. He has had respect for me and the organization. Maybe that comes from getting fired three times."

Every coach should read it, regardless of whether you've ever been fired.