What do you do when you’re only days away from the start of the football season and you don’t have a quarterback? There are two options: hang up your spikes and give up before the season has even started, or you move the most qualified player you have into the position and hope for the best. Now it might not be so difficult to convince a wide receiver or running back that the team needs for them to take on this challenge. That’s because the quarterback is a very popular and status laden position. What dad doesn’t want for his son to be the quarterback? Besides, if the kid can’t pass so well, it’s not difficult implement a run offense.
My twin boys love the game of lacrosse and were looking forward to a successful 2017 season, but their team stood before a huge predicament: they didn’t have a goalie! The one guy they thought would play broke his foot in December and then transferred out of state. So I asked them, if all else fails and they can’t find a goalie, would one of them be willing to change positions to help the team.? They told me straight out that they wouldn’t change.
As the weeks went by and the season grew closer they were on a scouting mission to find a new goalie. They asked all of their football buddies who didn’t play a spring sport if they wouldn’t like to try the wonderful game of lacrosse. The problem was that they couldn’t convince anyone to stand in a goal and try to stop hard rubber ball that was coming Their way a 80-90 miles per hour! I suggested that they work on the back-up baseball catcher: “Tell him it’s better than sitting on the bench all game. He’d get plenty of playing time and would be the hero of the team.”
With one week to go before the start of the season the coach had to take matters into his own hands and “twist” the arm of a player to change positions and stand between the pipes. A great kid called Mac, who normally plays defense, got the call. Last night I asked my boys how their first day of practice went, especially with regards to the new goalie. They said he did great and will learn the position quickly. So it looks like Mac saved the season!
Whether Mac will want to play college lacrosse I don’t know. If he does, I know that the year he spent playing goalie will make him a better, more rounded player.
I’ve seen similar scenarios in the corporate world. Typically, employees want to stay in their field of expertise and receive promotions to move up the corporate ladder. Unfortunately, higher-level jobs aren’t always available because they are blocked. Employees then believe that there is no possibility for advancement and decide to leave their company.
As a way of retaining valuable employees, a company might offer them a lateral move into a new functional area. They would be able to keep their salary and benefits and learn something new, which in the long run, would benefit their career. But many employees shy away from a horizontal move and don’t understand that the company is investing in them and their development. This is a very shortsighted perspective.
The most successful individuals that I’ve experienced in the workplace are neither the ones who are only interested in a promotion, nor the ones that will accept a lateral move when asked, but those who proactively ask their employer for the opportunity to move horizontally into a new area. They understand that their future success is linked to showing initiative and learning new skills, not about a quick promotion.
What about you? Would you be willing to move to goalie if your team’s season depended on it? Would you be willing to take a lateral move in anticipation of a future reward?