You will never make it in the big leagues. Sure you had some success as a big fish in a small pond, but that was insignificant. Everyone always told you that you have what it takes, but they were just being kind. You simply do not have what it takes to be great. You should consider another career, maybe coaching. As a matter a fact, maybe you should just go stock groceries somewhere. Those are some of the things that Kurt Warner heard when he entered the 1994 NFL draft. Nobody wanted Kurt and they showed him that by not drafting him. No one saw any promise in him. For those of you who know the story, Kurt Warner was eventually picked up as a free agent by the Green Bay Packers. Being an undrafted free agent means Kurt was selected to be a target, someone the defense could use for tackle practice and he was not paid very much money.
There would be no story if that was the end of what happened to Kurt. It turned out that was just the beginning. Kurt Warner went on to play quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, the New York Giants, and the Arizona Cardinals. Neither the coaches nor the analyst saw anything great in Kurt, yet during his second full year in the NFL, he drove the St. Louis Rams offense to a Super Bowl victory, and collected MVP honors along the way. Kurt never stopped believing he had what it took to make it in the big league. If you limited your analysis of Kurt to statistics or highlight reels reels you would miss the true NFL career of Kurt. He celebrated many achievements in his career, but he also survived many failures and much criticism. At one point after several years of success he was benched because it seemed like nothing he was doing was working. People speculated he was too old, his time had passed. Again, Kurt did not listen to the critics and he pressed on. What made Kurt a standout player was not his arm or his determination, it was his character. Kurt was an encourager and someone that challenged others to walk out their greatness. When he was on the field he gave his team confidence and when he was benched he gave his team confidence. He was selfless in his pursuit to see his team victorious. Kurt was also selfless off the field. He was a family man first and a football player second. He was a man of great faith and he let his values guide his decisions. Kurt expected the same of others and he inspired it.
I relate to Kurt a lot. The only thing more powerful than someone telling you that you can’t do something is the voice inside you telling you that you can. In Kurt’s case this fueled him to work harder. For many years I gave the power of my thoughts over to others and honestly some days I still do that. However, on this journey of life each time I refuse to empower the negative and run for the positive I learn more about myself and others. When I am willing as a leader to believe in myself, I allow others to believe in me too. One of the worst things I can do as a leader is to buy into negativity. A leader cannot ignore the truth but they must find a way to focus people around the solution and not the problem. I learned long ago that what I focus on grows. If I focus on the problem the problem grows, if I focus on the solution the solution grows. I choose today to focus on the example that Kurt gave the world, never give up and always encourage others and you too can achieve great things. In our careers we will sometimes feel like the undrafted free agent that everyone is taking pokes at and other times we will feel like the MVP. Most of life’s greatest lessons lie between those two extremes. I have to be willing to put myself out there and believe. Check my motives and recheck my motives. When I sense my purpose is motivated by ego, I have to readjust. When I sense my motives are pure then I must be willing to hit the challenge head on. I like the way Kurt put it:
If you are willing to put yourself and your dreams on the line, at the very least you’ll discover an inner strength you may not have known existed. – Kurt Warner