In the movie “Rudy” the Notre Dame football team slaps a sign on the way out of the locker room for good karma. The sign says “Play like a Champion Today”. It is very motivating, especially when Rudy dresses for his one and only game.
At the 2016 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Transmission & Distribution Conference in Dallas, the opening day speaker was former Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith. His address to the 14,000 utility industry professionals and 900 exhibitors challenged us to consider that the factors that led to his success in football can also apply to success in our industry.
Emmitt was too small and too slow his entire playing career, yet he ended up the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and is enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame.
Oh, and for the younger generation who did not see him play football, he also was a champion of Dancing with the Stars (DWTS). In fact, he says more people recognize him as the DWTS champion than as a football player.
What factors did he credit to his success, not only in his football career, his DWTS win and also his successful post-football business career?
- Listen to outstanding mentors
- It is always “we” and not “I” – he accomplished nothing without his teammates
- Keep a positive attitude, regardless of the challenges
- Be willing to pay the price
- Be willing to put in the time
- Be curious, and ask questions
Not a bad list, don’t you agree? These are relevant characteristics for professional utility engineers to emulate. Even though most days our efforts are not found on an athletic field, if we perform with these same disciplines, we can expect similar, successful results.
Are these athletic practices applicable to “engineering like a champion”? What other factors might be missing from this list?