FOOTBALL FOR THE WIN.


Guest Blogger Julie Wilson shares:

“In football, the worst blindness is only seeing the ball.”
Nelson Falcão Rodrigues


In football, the universal game, not the American game, the job of the goalie is a make or break position. If a goalie does their job well, no one really notices. If they mess up, they generally get the blame.  My friend played goalie in college and told me a secret that applies to leadership too. She said the job of the goalie is not only to keep their eye on the ball, but to anticipate where the ball is going. If you only watch where the ball is at any given moment, you may not be ready for the unexpected moves of your opponent.  


This is true in football and leadership. We need to anticipate what may happen and remember to look up and out into the future to be ready for what may come our way. But how can we do this practically?

Most business decisions don’t happen as fast as the game of football, but we need to be as intentional. To anticipate in leadership, we need to set time aside in our schedules to think deeply about our industry, what is happening with our competition, the culture, the economy, our team and anticipate what’s coming as best we can. As a general rule the leadership in an organization will spend one hour a week, a half day a month and two days a year intentionally planning and anticipating where their industry “ball” may be going. 

Once we have an idea of where things are going, we need to remember our boundaries. Boundaries define where something stops, and another thing begins. Boundaries define the playing field in football and where the goal stops and starts. Leadership boundaries include how much time, talent and resource we have to deploy for our task.  Boundaries ensure you are maximizing what you have without burnout or bankruptcy. 

It’s been said that you can’t say yes to something without saying no to something else. If you say yes to investing in new systems for your company with the profit from the prior year, you’ll have to say no to something else that money might be used for. In our sports analogy, boundaries show me the field of play, the goal and the rules of engagement.  They make the game worth playing. 


Like the ball in football, life is a moving target. Who could have predicted COVID-19 this time last year? Boundaries allow you to have a plan and a backup plan. Boundaries help you say no to good things so you can yes to the best things. Boundaries force you to anticipate and stay agile. Boundaries also help you know where the goal is and what is yours to defend.   

Last year my team at Women Doing Well was busy planning for the year.  We had some unknowns in our budget out look so we built in two contingency plans just in case. That “anticipation” was priceless when COVID shutdowns began and we had to cancel our launch event. Our team had anticipated some disruption this year and so our mindset was ready and flexible. We had alignment and we went immediately into crisis planning. 

Boundaries also helped our team take breaks over the summer so we would be ready for a busy fall. Rest is a key part of training as an athlete and its priceless in business too. You need rest to make great decisions and to avoid burnout and injury.  Rest is a key element of our planning so we can be in the game for the long haul.  

As we go into 2021, let’s anticipate where the ball may go and take time to plan.  Setting goals and knowing our boundary lines helps us capitalize on opportunities, enjoy our work and best of all win no matter what circumstance might come our way.  


About the Author:

For the past 25 years, Julie has been a visionary strategist and communication specialist. After graduating with a degree in journalism from Boston University, she landed the highly competitive job as an NBC Page in New York City, the same year she became a follower of Christ through the ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. She spent 13 years as a start-up team builder with Priority Associates, mostly in New York City, and most recently was VP of Communication and served on the executive leadership team for Generous Giving. Today, as President of Women Doing Well, she leads a team to activate generosity in women of influence. Julie and her husband, Gary, live in Richmond, Virginia, with their daughter, Ella.


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