On a 52 degree Sunday afternoon, January 18, 2015 at Century Link Field in Seattle, Brandon Bostick, a Tight End for the Green Bay Packers, would make a gaffe that will stick with him forever. The scene was one of tremendous intensity; it was the 2014 NFC Championship Game. The Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks had been slugging it out for nearly 58 minutes. With 2:09 left in the 4th quarter and only one timeout remaining, Seattle was lining up for an onside kick hoping to recover the football and take one final shot at winning the NFC Championship. The Green Bay Packers Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum had deployed his “hands team,” a group of players used in these situations who are the best at catching a football, knowing that if they recovered this onside kick, they would reach the pinnacle of their profession, the Super Bowl.
As the Packers “hands team” lined up, Bostick was to the left of the Packers formation with Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson angled directly behind him. When the Seattle Seahawks placekicker took the onside kick, his goal was to bounce it high off the turf for his own teammates to recover the football. The Packers formation set Brandon Bostick up to block one of the oncoming Seahawks players while Nelson would catch the football. This would allow the Packers to take possession and run the clock down to :00.
Brandon Bostick had one role, one job that he was responsible for on this play. All he had to do was block the oncoming player directly in front of him in order to allow Jordy Nelson to recover the kick. If Bostick executed this one assignment, the Green Bay Packers would be NFC Champions. Inexplicably, Bostick attempted to grab the football himself, instead of doing his assigned job of blocking the man in front of him. The football went through his hands, hit the ground, and was recovered by the Seahawks. Seattle would go down the field to score and eventually won the game in overtime several minutes later. It was clear on replays that if Bostick had blocked his man, Nelson was in a perfect position to cleanly catch the football and clench the game for the Packers. Immediately, Brandon Bostick went from an anonymous player on the Packers roster to being known by millions across the globe as the guy who messed up the Packers opportunity to play in Super Bowl XLIX.
The lesson we can learn from Bostick is an important one as it translates to our lives both in and out of sports. We need to know the various roles we play and execute on those roles to the best of our abilities. This will lead to individual and team success. The following expands upon what we can do to recognize and execute the roles we fill.
KNOW YOUR ROLES
We all have multiple roles we fill as our contribution toward meeting the goals and outcomes for the various teams, organizations, and groups to which we belong. As an athlete, your roles fit the needs that will help your team succeed while allowing you to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. As a family member, your roles fill needs to keep a family operating effectively and efficiently. In a work setting, your roles benefit the company and the strategic goals set for company success. It is important to know which roles you need to fill in each setting and to regularly evaluate how well you are executing these roles and their responsibilities. The roles you play are dynamic; the ability to adapt to new roles and take on new challenges is important to gaining positive results. Begin to take the time and effort to understand what your roles are in your various capacities. Being aware of the roles you must fill in your daily life will allow you to act with purpose as you execute these roles.
EXECUTE YOUR ROLES
Once you clearly understand what your roles are the next step is to execute them. Let’s look at an example of an ideal way to do this by using an example of a basketball player named Megan; she is a perimeter defender and three-point shooter. When Megan has additional time before or after team workouts, she practices intentional development of these areas. Megan works on all facets of basketball skills, yet her emphasis for any extra training she does is toward fulfilling her roles successfully. For example, Megan stays after practice to shoot 200 extra shots three times a week. During these workouts, she puts greater emphasis on her three-point shooting, including taking more shots from spots on the court where she attempts more shots during games. Megan sets targets for how many shots she will make out of each set of 25. When she does not meet her target, Megan will do defensive slides as a penalty; this helps Megan improve her perimeter defensive skills. Note that even when penalizing herself, Megan specifically chooses drills that strengthen her abilities to execute her roles. This extra work allows Megan to be confident that she will execute in game situations. Megan’s confidence comes from the fact she has been intentional in the development of her perimeter defense and three-point shooting.
Like Megan, once you have developed the skills and fundamentals critical to your role, the next step is execution. Proper execution means discipline in sticking to your roles and trusting others to do the same. We need to trust our teammates, family members, and work colleagues to execute their roles, as they should trust us to execute our own. When everyone does their job success is imminent.
A PARTING THOUGHT
The example of Brandon Bostick shows when we do not execute our roles, we as individuals and the teams or groups that we are part of will not achieve maximum success. My challenge to all of us: take time to analyze and determine what roles we play in our lives and commit to intentional development of the skills, habits, and fundamentals necessary to execute them effectively. Additionally, we should practice discipline in our approach and trust our teammates so that we stick to executing our roles for team success. When we clearly define our roles and put time, emphasis, and discipline into their execution, then we are ready to make the groups we are part of achieve maximum success!