Each spring, America’s most popular sport takes over the attention of millions of sports fans for a week to hold the annual National Football League Draft. What marks as a new beginning for each NFL Franchise and a huge milestone for the collegiate athletes chosen to begin their professional careers is essentially the end of a lengthy and cumbersome interview process for young men looking to land their dream job. And without a doubt, the single most important part of the interview process? How fast they can run 40 yards.
So, what makes the 40-yard dash such a crucial component for athletes and NFL teams? And what lessons could Credit Union leaders take from the most important 4.42 seconds of a twenty-one-year old’s life?
1. It Can Take Years of Preparation to Save Hundredths of a Second
Athletes preparing for potential selection in the NFL Draft start long before the end of their final college season. Years of practice on the field, in the weight room, and in film study prepare them for making a lasting first impression on scouts and coaches. We have to ask ourselves as Credit Unions: how much preparation goes into making a great first impression on potential new members? Do we just assume they know who we are and what we are capable of doing for them? Have we put in the time and the effort to win them over, in spite of our competition working hard to gain their trust and business? Credit Unions need to put their best foot forward every time they are given the opportunity to make a first impression to a potential member, business partner, or community leader.
2. Technique and Attention to Detail Matter
The 40-yard dash is measured in hundreds of seconds, and laser-timed, making every breath, motion, angle, and step significant in an athlete’s attempt to post their best time. For Credit Union leaders, it is imperative that our teams pay attention to the details, and are always fine-tuning their technique to help achieve organizational goals. Also, are we avoiding any “wasted motions” and not trying to squeeze too much out of something that doesn’t get us closer to our goal? Making sure your techniques are sound and you focus on the details that matter can make a world of difference.
3. Consistency Is Key
Athletes interviewing for the NFL Draft run two timed 40-yard dashes at the NFL Combine, then also run a timed 40-yard dash at their “Pro Day” (see, I told you this was a lengthy and cumbersome process). They also test and re-test on a variety of agility drills, strength drills, mental exams and more. What teams look for – and what your Credit Union members are looking for from you – is consistency. Can you consistently deliver your best performance under different sets of circumstances? Have you empowered your employees to keep delivering great service when the demand is high? Ensuring consistency in fulfilling your brand promise is critical to becoming your members’ #1 pick.
4. Never Forget Where You Came From
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a football junkie. As much as I love watching the games and watching these great athletes perform at the NFL Combine, one of my favorite moments in football comes right after a young man posts an amazing 40-yard dash time. They decelerate, high-five some folks in the stadium, and run straight to their cell phones to facetime mom or dad, and celebrates all of the love and support they were given from family to get to this point in life. As a Credit Union leader, we must instill in our organization the gift we receive from our members each and every day, which is their trust and support. Appreciation for our members, colleagues and community is essential to our success, and the purpose of our work can help keep us grounded and perform at our best.
So next time you are sitting down for a management meeting, staff meeting, or board planning session, take 4.42 seconds to watch a 40-yard dash, and think about all of the ways in which you can take these lessons to perform at your absolute best.