As a correspondent for CBS News, Jan Crawford travels the country in search of interesting stories. But on weekends, one of her favorite pastimes is watching football with her four kids. Crawford grew up in rural Alabama and remains a devoted fan of the Crimson Tide. Her time working for the Chicago Tribune also gave her an NFL team to root for — the Bears. She says you can learn a lot from football, and those lessons can translate to the workplace and your career.
Don’t get tackled
by your job
Shake it off
I’m always amazed by the wide receivers and cornerbacks, not only when they make spectacular plays, but also how they react to their own mistakes. If they drop a pass or get burned for a touchdown, they can’t obsess over it. They have to put it behind them and get back out there ready for the next play. I have a tendency (as do many women, I think) to agonize over a mistake, so I try to tell myself to shake it off and move on because I know I will try to do what the great backs do, which is….
Learn from it
Any player can blow a play. But one way to shake it off is to see it as a positive learning experience. You can get burned once, but next time you’re ready for it — and it doesn’t happen again.
Trust your teammates
A quarterback has to trust his offensive line; each defensive lineman has to handle his assignment and trust the man next to him to handle his. The same should be true in an organization. As Charlotte Jones Anderson, executive vice president of the Dallas Cowboys, told me once, it’s about teamwork, which requires trusting others to do their jobs and being accountable for your own. (And Charlotte obviously knows a thing or two about football and being a successful businesswoman). The point is that by working together with trust and confidence in each other, people can accomplish so much more than one individual. In my work, I rely on so many people — producers, editors, camera crews — and they count on me. We are a team, and I’m privileged to work with them.
Look for the openings
A running back can’t just barrel ahead into the line. He has to be conscious of openings in front of him and then quick to take advantage for big gains. Same thing at work. Be conscious of possible opportunities in front of you so you’re ready to move ahead when they open up. And know that sometimes the holes open unexpectedly — like when CBS asked me to cover the 2012 presidential campaign.
Study the tape
The greatest players in the game, like Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, aren’t on top just because of sheer physical talent. They are students of the game and spend countless hours studying film, so they can anticipate situations on the field and are prepared for almost anything. At work, those who are most prepared are those best positioned for success. In my business, the best reporters (especially on breaking news) are those who are most prepared.