‘I’m not a businessman, I am a business – Man!’ Jay Z
We all hope to have the power of a CEO, but until that time comes you must begin to appreciate just being around those who do.
I had a similar experience as a Fullback in the NFL, never the one with power but around those who had it – the Running Back group.
Running backs are a popular position as they are always getting the ball and showing up in the highlight real. This recognition, along with fantasy football, crowned them with power in the football world and cool cats in the outside world.
This proximity to the position meant I would be in meetings with them, practice drills with them, and have my locker next to them.
Sitting in my locker one day, I overheard a conversation between two veterans – the starting Quarterback and starting Running Back.
The running back was amid a contract negotiation and felt his performance had earned a new contract. This epiphany put him in a situation to test the leverage he felt he had based on his level of play to force the club’s hand in giving him said contract.
In the end, every player has the power to say, ‘my talents are better than anyone else you can bring in to replace me’. This is a very tough thing to have the confidence to say and an even harder thing to achieve, but if you do believe it then it is well within your rights to prove it.
Now, we need to make a particularly important distinction here. In contract negotiations, you do not get what you feel you have earned, or even what you think you deserve. In these conversations, you get what you have the leverage to negotiate!
If you dare to enter this situation, you will find out exactly what the team really thinks of you and perhaps more importantly where your talents truly stand compared to what else is out there. Most never dream of so clear a mirror.
In this case, the player believed his leverage was strong enough – he was a perennial Pro Bowl player and the focal point of the offense – to get what he wanted. He believed it so strongly he was willing to forgo practice and take the fines in a ‘holdout’, until there was a new contract in place.
Hearing the two Veteran players discuss the situation and how things were going was eye opening enough, but when the conversation was done, I saw them bump fists and say to one another ‘CEO’s’.
Call me strange, call me inquisitive, call me whatever, but I could not help myself. I had to lean over and enquire – ‘what was the CEO thing all about?’
The veteran explained, ‘No one will care more about you or your career than you do. No one will put in more time, more energy, more sacrifice than you will. We (NFL Players) all play for the team and the logo on the side of our helmet, but here (in the NFL) we must begin to put the name on our back first! Every decision I make, I make as if I am the CEO of my own company.’
His conviction gave me so much clarity into my new world of professional sports, but even more so into business.
As a young player, you look at the money and are just grateful for the offer. As a veteran, you begin to weigh the risks of the job, in correlation to your value. For better or worse a Veteran begins to know their value, begins to see where they stand, and begins to measure what is worth taking their talents out on the field for.
The measurement this Veteran began to hold himself and his career to, was that of a CEO.
Every day, a CEO faces challenges big and small, asking – ‘How do I handle this challenge and is it detrimental to the success of the company?’
Having this CEO mindset awoke me to the reality of professional sports, it empowered me with the idea that if I was not taking care of me, who was?
From that day forward I would approach my decisions as: CEO of Jedidiah Collins INC.
Even if working for someone else, I would handle my business as if I were a CEO. This meant I would be responsible for where my company was going, how it was operating, and the value it would continue to create.
I would need to measure the short-term and long-term impacts of my decisions for whomever I was working for, but more importantly for my own success. This mindset will prove to be the ultimate compass throughout a career.
No CEO makes every decision on their own, however they are ultimately responsible for the outcome. Acting as your own CEO is no different, you can and should seek out counsel, but in the end, this is your career and no one else’s.
Imagine being the last person to leave your office and as you walk by someone forgot to empty the garbage into the bin that gets emptied each week. A CEO who understands that they will be held responsible for every facet of the business, empties the trash can.
Tomorrow may come and you can seek out the responsible party, but in the moment, you get the job done because you see the overflowing trash bin as a reflection on your business.
The most damning words in a career are – it isn’t my job!
When you allow the thought of ‘it doesn’t matter if I do this because I am not in control of that’ to enter your outlook, you relinquish control of your own career. You allow someone else to sit in the driver’s seat.
Having the CEO mindset says, ‘I am in the driver’s seat. I am going to do this and if it does not lead to the outcome I desire, then I will own the outcome. Tomorrow I will come in and adapt until it does because ultimately I am the boss of me.’