What the Big Game teaches us about career success.

New York Life | January 31, 2020

Updated January 12, 2024

San Francisco 49ers logo and Kansas City Chiefs logo on football helmets

The matchup for the Big Game is set. The Kansas City Chiefs will take on the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday, February 11. We might look at our favorite football players as mythical, but they're human, like us, and like us they have a job to do. There is much that we can learn from the stars of the Big Game past and present as we compete to win in our own careers.

Keep your eyes on the ball

Football is a game of many moving parts. But success ultimately comes down to one thing: keeping a laser focus on what matters most. To unlock career achievements, you need to identify your main goals, whether you are going for a promotion or trying to ace an interview.

Seek constructive feedback

It goes without saying that football is a team sport. Players huddle with their teammates to discuss each play, and they huddle with their coaches on the sidelines for guidance. Make like them in your office huddle, and don’t be afraid to approach others to get the feedback you need to perform at your best.

Pick yourself back up

Great achievements often entail a good deal of failure, but it’s how you respond to those failures that counts most. As legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once remarked, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” If you are prepared to recover from any setbacks, you will feel more comfortable when making your next play at work.

Know your role

Every player on the football field has a distinctive role that will contribute to their team’s victory or defeat. Are you like the quarterback, always making adjustments, while providing leadership for your teammates? Or, perhaps you’re more like the defensive lineman, who exudes strength and determination and can react quickly to make a tackle? Whether you see yourself in a more “defensive” or “offensive” role, everyone brings something unique to their team.

Plan for the future

The average NFL career is only 3.5 years long. That doesn’t seem long, until you realize that Americans spend an average of only 4.6 years with an employer. If you want to achieve at work, you need to reflect on that age-old interview question: Where do you see yourself in five years? Planning for the future gives you confidence to succeed in the here and now, knowing that you are prepared for whatever comes down the road.

Diversify your skill set

There are over one million college football players in America, and only a tiny fraction of them will ever play in the NFL, much less compete in the Big Game. Just like the college player who has to study more than just football, you should diversify your skills in order to flourish in your career.


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Media contact

Kevin Maher
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-7937