Greetings from Faribault!
Ten years ago, Nike filmed a commercial on our campus with Arizona Cardinals’ superstar and Minnesota native, Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. In the years since, I have followed his all-star career and the way he is reported on in the media. Quite often the word used is humble—which in and of itself is a great trait to possess. The other phrase used with great frequency is that he has great “football smarts” or a “strong football IQ”—and, again this is a great trait to possess for a football player.
About a month ago during training camp, Fitzgerald was spotted carrying the footballs to the practice field; he was praised for his humble act (carrying the footballs is usually reserved for rookies) and described as bucking the trend of “diva” wide receivers. This past Sunday, in the second quarter of their game against the San Francisco 49ers, his teammate, DeAndre Hopkins, caught a pass as time was ticking off the clock. The 49ers defenders—no doubt knowing the situation—were “struggling” to get off Hopkins after the tackle. Noticing this, Fitzgerald ran, grabbed the football, and delivered it to the referee to reset so that the Cardinals could spike the ball with a second left and attempt a field goal before halftime. Cue the articles and praise about his great football IQ.
To be clear: Larry Fitzgerald is humble, and he has a great football IQ. But to be equally clear, there are many in the NFL—and probably even on the Cardinals team—who possess both of those traits. What makes Fitzgerald different is that he is a leader because he understands that his job is to do whatever needs to be done to support his team as they work towards their goals. At times that means carrying a bag of footballs to practice. At times that means rushing a ball to an official. And, at times that means stepping out of the spotlight and letting others shine.
Sometimes leadership means being out in front, guiding your team; just as often it means being the last one to cross the finish line as you support those who are struggling to keep going. And equally as often, leadership means helping in another way entirely.
As we go about our year, how great would Shattuck-St. Mary’s School be if we all took this lesson from Larry Fitzgerald? If we understood that we need to do whatever needs to be done to support our team and our school as we work towards our goals? When we reframe our thoughts on what it means to be a leader, we begin to see more opportunities to lead. And we all end up in a better place.
Stay healthy and safe,