Run through challenges, not around them

When confronted with a difficult situation, do you move toward it, or do you strive to avoid it?

In his Main Platform presentation at the 2017 Annual Meeting, Eric Boles, a former professional football player and the president of Game Changers, Inc., talked about the importance and urgency of embracing these challenges. Whether it is a courageous conversation with a client or a family member, he crystallized why taking action is better than just hoping things get better.

“Fear doesn’t just go away; we’ve gotta run through it,” he said. “We have everything it takes to be as successful as we want to be. Except we let fear get in the way.”

Learning from experience

Boles recalled his rookie year in the National Football League, when as a special teams player he served as a “flyer.” That means that he had to run down the field as fast as possible during a kickoff and attempt to tackle the opposing player returning the ball. During the kickoff, the other team often would form a four-person wedge to block for the returner. It was Boles’ job to run through the wedge to split an opening so he or a teammate could make the tackle.

In one game, to protect himself Boles ran around the wedge. He made the tackle, but he did this on the 40-yard line instead of the 20-yard line, a field-position difference that ultimately led to his team losing the game. In the meeting after the game, Boles found himself the subject of discussion for running around the wedge. “If I could fire you right now, I would,” the coach said. “Because your fear cost us.”

The team didn’t make the playoffs that year, and some people lost their jobs.

Taking the lead

Fear is selfish, Boles’ coach also told him, and that selfishness impacted the whole team. The lesson is not to be consumed by how things threaten you and take charge even if it’s something you don’t want to do. Boles cited a powerful line from his mentor: “Fear is a doorway you walk through; it is not a house you live in.”

“Many times I should have had a conversation with members of my team who aren’t performing at a high level or I’ve run around a wedge instead of having the conversation with my wife,” he said, adding that success can be defined by the number of uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have.

“Running around the wedge costs you time. What wedge are you running around? What do you need to run through?”

Boles is a former NFL player and the president of Game Changers, Inc. At the 2017 Annual Meeting he discussed how unlocking potential requires competing with yourself, not just outside competition.

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Written by Matt Pais, MDRT Content Specialist

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