Friday, January 28, 2011

Are you prepared for opportunity? The Caleb Hanie Story.

With the NFL conference championships complete from last weekend, there is plenty of discussion regarding Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler’s injury and if it should have kept him out of the game. I think the conversation is about the wrong quarterback. I was most impressed by third-string and third-year player Caleb Hanie, who nearly pulled out the game for the Bears.

Replacing second string QB Todd Collins with a few seconds left in the third quarter (and per NFL rules ensuring that he would have play the remainder of the game), Heine looked like the best Bears quarterback that day.

As the designated third string quarterback, Hanie was inactive unless injuries or quality of play called him into service. Third string quarterbacks rarely play, because if they enter the game prior to the 4th quarter, the other two quarterbacks cannot come back into the game. Hanie had played in only two games this year and thrown only seven passes. For his career, he had only played in four games, thrown 14 passes and no touchdowns. So the likelihood of him playing in the NFC Championship was pretty remote. In fact, he probably didn’t get many (if any) practice snaps with the first team during the week.

Yet when his number was called, he was ready.

He did throw two interceptions, one of which was run back for a touchdown. But he also drove the Bears down the field for a touchdown in 81 seconds after that mistake. He looked prepared and was poised on the field. Now who knows if he will ever have the chance to play as a starter or regular quarterback, but his performance made me think about the situation he was in, much like the situations we can find ourselves in.

Hanie was likely not going to get an opportunity to perform, but he must have prepared like he would have the opportunity. When Cutler went down, they turned to Collins and he was unable to move the team (and was likely injured as well). Then the coach Lovie Smith turned to the unheard of Hanie. And he was ready for the opportunity when it presented itself. Would you have prepared to be ready like he was?

Knowing that your preparation would likely not result in any chance to perform on the big stage, would you have put in the time to understand the competition and be ready? More importantly, is your business preparing like that every day for the customer or project that you don’t think you will get (or don’t even know about today), but if you do would change the game for you? I believe the saying is true: “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” Some would say Hanie was lucky to have such a great game in front of a national audience. I believe it was more likely about his work and preparation.

1 comment:

  1. I was blown away by how well he played. I have to admit, all I could think of when he first went in to play was the goofy Mr. Haney on "Green Acres" -- Wikipedia bio for Mr. Haney [].

    I could not get that character out of my head. Then has Chicago Bears Hanie started to perform well, goofy Green Acres Mr. Haney soon left my thoughts. He validated himself -- unlike Collins. And I think you hit the nail on the head, Jeff. Hanie was prepared to play. Because of this preparation, he performed in a high pressure situation -- a great lesson for us all in business.

    A famous preparation quote, can't remember who -- “Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity”.