It was 2001 and Drew Bledsoe was the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots. There was a young man on the sidelines waiting for his opportunity. During just the second week of the season he got his chance. Bledsoe went down with an injury and Tom Brady took over as quarterback. With virtually no experience in the NFL he led his team to an 11-3 record for the rest of the season and a Super Bowl victory. Brady was also selected as the MVP of the Super Bowl. Anyone who knows anything about football also knows he has been one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
What if Brady hadn’t been ready for that opportunity? What if he hadn’t studied the playbook? What if he hadn’t been in excellent physical condition when the coach needed him? Who knows? He may have played poorly and headed straight back to the bench never to get another chance to show what he could do. That didn’t happen, Brady was ready, and even retained his starting position after Bledsoe returned from his injury.
Being ready for an opportunity that hasn’t come your way yet is crucial if you want to shine when you get that chance. As a rookie, Brady was underweight – so much so that some of his teammates joked him. So he hit the weight room and put on 20 pounds of muscle. He constantly asked the other quarterbacks about the playbook and what to do in certain situations. In practice he played hard and with the confidence of a starter. He was getting ready before his opportunity ever came.
We never know when an unexpected opportunity will present itself to us. Like Tom Brady did, we can do these things to prepare:
Learn everything you can, not only about your role, but also beyond it. Ask questions, study manuals, examine reports, read books.
- Train hard
Work hard to be more productive than your peers. Take initiative to get things done before being told. Do this enough and you’re sure to get noticed.
- Build your confidence
Brady practiced like he was the starter, and he took his role seriously. Take your role seriously, master it, and your confidence will grow.
We all want opportunity. It might be just around the corner. Let’s make sure we are prepared to take advantage of it when it comes.