Arik Hanson: Five lessons you can learn from Brett Favre

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that good ol’ #4 knows what he’s doing on the football field. He’s a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, a Super Bowl champ and one of the best quarterbacks of all time.

I had the privilege to watch Favre up close last year as he led my Purple to a near-Super Bowl run (Note: I haven’t forgiven the Saints yet for that beating–and I’m sure I probably never will. You hear that Tom Martin?).

But, I bet you didn’t know there are a number of PR lessons you can learn from #4.

Yes, despite his “diva” status and his fascination and addiction to the limelight, you can learn an awful lot from Brett Favre. Let me explain:

* Learn to play through pain. Brett Favre has started a record 285 straight NFL games. A record I’m quite sure won’t be broken anytime soon (Peyton may catch him, but I’d say it’s still a long shot). In fact, given the sport and the punishment QBs take, it might be one of the most remarkable records in all of pro sports. But, Favre only earned that record by playing through a decent amount of pain. The guy is an iron horse. As PR practitioners, we need to learn how to “play through pain”, too. Of course, the pain we deal with isn’t physical in nature (at least it probably shouldn’t be)–but it can be a mentally exhausting and painful profession. Crazy hours. Insane client demands. And  management teams that expect the best from us–all the time. That can be draining. But, we need to learn how to deal with those expectations and get the job done–day in and day out.

* Be the ultimate team player. One of my favorite stories about last year’s NFC title game came from a locker room moment after the game. To set the table for those non-Minnesotans, we had just lost a chance to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 70s. Our hopes and dreams were crushed. And everything #4 and the Vikes had worked for the entire year had just been flushed down the drain–in dramatic style at the Superdome. But, in that locker room after the game, there was Favre, with an arm around rookie Percy Harvin, consoling him and most likely giving him some “fatherly advice” on how to handle a situation like the one they all just experienced. That image still chokes me up a bit. Here’s a guy who–despite the “diva” label–is usually thinking about others before himself. And, that definitely wasn’t an isolated incident. Go back and watch the highlights. Any time Farve throws a TD, he’s RACING to find the wide receiver to give him a bear hug on the catch. Watch him on the sidelines. You can usually find him cheering on his teammates–no matter what. That, my friends, is a team player. Think about your day-to-day professional life. Are you spending ample time recognizing and rewarding your team? Are you taking opportunities to coach on a daily basis? Are you working to build creative, collaborative teams that trust one another? If not, just watch #4 on Sundays this fall (hopefully). Trust me–you will learn a thing or two.

* Don’t be afraid to take risks. While Favre is a sure Hall-of-Famer, he also hold the dubious record for most INTs thrown over the course of a career. His nicknames is the “gunslinger.” He has a penchant for making the big play–but also the big mistake (see 2008 and 2010 NFC Championship games). Point is, you don’t win big by playing it safe. Look at any sport/industry. The most successful folks are those who are willing to take risks–big risks. No different with #4. And, it should be no different with you, as a PR pro, either. Taking risks is healthy. We tend to learn more from our failures than we do from our successes–that’s just a fact. And without risk, there is no growth. This applies to all areas of your professional life–from client meetings (take a risk and make that suggestion you think will make a difference) to career paths (look for jobs that will allow you to stretch your skills and grow). Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to fail.

* Learn to perform under pressure. Sure, Favre has let his team down before in big spots (hello, did I mention the NFC title game last year?). But, he’s come through in big games many times before. What about the XXXI Super Bowl? The Monday Night game after his father passed away? Both Green Bay games last year? In each instance, Favre not only rose to the occasion–he exceeded expectations. Learn to do the same in your PR day job. Resist the urge to shirk spotlight opportunities–instead ask for them and step up. After all, practice makes perfect, right? You may fail under pressure (hey, we all do at some point), but if you accept these high-pressure/high-reward opportunities, you will learn how to deal with the pressure. And, you’ll get better at handling the spotlight. In the end, it’s a win for everyone–you learn how to shine, and your clients get rockstar service and results.

This post was written by Arik Hanson and originally published on Communications Conversations. Follow him on Twitter: @arikhanson.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/06/2010 - 08:31 pm.

    Favre is the ultimate team player? Is that some kind of joke? There isn’t a more selfish player in the whole league.

    Its pretty telling that your examples of performing under pressure consist of the super bowl win 14 years ago (with MVP Desmond Howard) and three regular season games, one of which was against a team that finished 4-12.

    At least you got the don’t be afraid to fail part right, because Brent Favre is certainly not afraid to fail.

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