Although it pained me that the Super Bowl was played in the Dolphins’ home stadium, minus my Dolphins, I tuned in to watch the pre-game programming, and for the first time was introduced to the story of Drew Brees, the quarterback of the Saints. For those of you who don’t know about his background, it was New Year’s Eve, 2005, when Drew Brees took a hit from Broncos safety John Lynch, lost the football, tried to recover, and ended up underneath Broncos defensive tackle Gerard Warren, who, by the weigh, tipped the scales at 320 lbs+. Ouch. When Warren landed on Brees, it instantly sidelined the quarterback’s plans to play his entire career in San Diego. “All of a sudden here I am thrust into free agency, two months after a right shoulder dislocation,” Brees said. “I was told by some doctors that I had a 25% chance of coming back and ever playing. That was a defining moment in my life.”
Obviously this story has a happy ending – five years later and Brees is Super Bowl XLIV’s MVP. But although his case is extremely high profile, what happened to Brees is really no different than what has happened to so many professionals who have suddenly found themselves at a crossroads in their own careers. Whether it’s due to a termination, a layoff, or an unexpected twist of fate, we all face defining career moments that at the time make us wonder, “Why me?” and “What now?” So what makes the difference between, to continue the sports’ analogy, the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat? Here’s what I’ve learned: It’s usually not until much later that we are able to look back and recognize that what happened was actually a trigger to a defining moment, because although we may not have control over the trigger, we do have control over how we chose to react to the trigger – in other words, how we choose to define the moment.
I don’t know Drew Brees, and I don’t know the exact chain of events that occurred after he found himself under a human mountain. But I can make a few safe assumptions. I’ll bet he spent very little time asking “Why me?” a bit more time asking “What next?” and then got on with it. I’ll also bet that he doesn’t waste one moment of his time blaming Gerard Warren for the tackle that triggered his defining moment. Because I work with job seekers every day, I’ve gotten to where I can easily spot the Drew Brees of the Healthcare IT job seeker world – they quickly take responsibility for their situation, do not play the victim or blame game, and truly believe that their MVP opportunity is out there waiting for them. And with that approach? Just ask Drew – he’s going to Disney World!