NFL QB Jalen Hurts: You either Win or Learn

2 min read

I am not a Philadelphia Eagles football fan, but I’m now a big fan of their QB Jalen Hurts. He had the quote of the year in the post-Super Bowl press conference after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs.

His quote was, “You either win or you learn.” He went on to explain that after a loss, he spends time reflecting on what went wrong and what it will take to, “Take it to the next level.”

I have always been amazed at how big-time professional sports and military special operations teams are microcosms of the business world. They survive by winning and learning every day.

What is winning and learning in the business world?

Closing that big sales opportunity that nobody else was able to do is winning. Getting that big promotion is winning. Peak performers fail all the time. But they learn from their mistakes and get better.

How can I use this to enhance my career?

You learn. You get feedback. You listen. You retool. You invest in yourself. You train. You pull up your big-boy pants and fight another day.

How do you learn at work?

Learning takes courage. It takes reflection and humility. Because you may have to admit to yourself that you are not who you thought were. It’s having the courage to ask your boss AND colleagues, “Hey, how can I get better? How can I do my job better.”

Maybe you need to improve your writing skills or take a class in public speaking. Maybe there is a specific skill or certification you need? For every person it is different – but you need to find out!

Very few people do this. It sets you apart. Some call it, “Extreme Ownership.”

Can you Win & Learn at the same time?

Absolutely. Back to the military special operations and sports analogy. After a successful mission (and most are very successful), the team will conduct an After-Action Review (AAR). No matter how successful the mission was, all teams conduct a very intense AAR.

No one is immune from the constructive criticism that follows. Sometimes it’s humiliating for some. Even brutal. But the teams get better and that is all that matters.

Professional sports are no different. In the NFL, Tuesday is film day. The team gets back together to watch the game film from the previous Sunday’s game.

The film tape does not lie. Everyone from the star quarterback to the linemen are critiqued in front of their teammates. There is nowhere to hide.

The NFL is a true meritocracy. As former NFL coach, Herm Edwards, once famously said, “You play to win the game!”

In the corporate world, a close equivalent to an AAR would be your performance review session with your boss, or why not take him/her out to lunch and just ask? Fortune favors the Bold, right?

Can companies Win & Learn?

A company wins by being accountable. A company wins when its leadership connects and rewards employee behavior to specific goals and objectives. It wins by having a purpose and consistently communicating that purpose and mission to its people.

And most importantly, great firms have the guts to learn when they do not win.

Because to win you have to learn. Just ask Jalen Hurts.

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