Yesterday we kicked-off on a month long journey where I am going to be talking about #TheMaybeClock. If there has ever been an area of your life that you were tired of saying "MAYBE" to...this series is for you.
Today we are tackling what it means to be "On The Clock" in our everyday lives. It's how we combat living in #TheMaybeClock mentality that is keeping us from living out our destiny.
In a general sense we can all relate to having felt a sense of pressure as it relates to time. A feeling that time is either against us, or ticking away from us. By the end of this post today, I'm confident we'll leave empowered as we learn how to leverage being "on the clock" so it doesn't turn into #TheMaybeClock.
With time running out, and no plan in place, being "on the clock" can feel overwhelming. Even with a plan, it can feel like time is getting the better of us. But, when we begin with the end in mind, it makes the clock something to leverage, rather than fear. When we keep reminding ourselves where our destination is it puts things in perspective, so that time becomes our competitive advantage.
This past weekend was the 2018 NFL Draft. For those of you that know what that is, let me set the stage for anyone who might not. Once we are all on the same page, there is a cool parallel that we can lean on, and learn from.
For three days, the National Football League drafts players that have played at least three seasons of college football, or have been out of high school for at least three years. Sometimes (as was the case with my favorite team...#FlyEaglesFly) they even draft players from a different sport. There is a distinct order to the draft process, so every team knows when they can select someone. For the first round, each team has ten minutes to make their selection. In the second round teams have seven minutes per selection. In rounds three through five teams have five minutes per selection. And in the final round teams have three minutes to make their selection. There is a specific reason I am sharing that much detail with you. I'll let you in on that in a moment.
A total of 256 draft picks are made over that time, by 32 different teams.
Teams can take the full allotment of time, or pick as soon as they feel ready, during their time "on the clock". If every team used every single second, that is a total of 1,120 minutes to determine the future of athletes who have been pursuing their dream of playing in the NFL for as long as they can remember.
Think about that for a second. Players have been preparing all of their lives for what will take a little over 18 hours (or less) to do. That is what it means to go all-in for a maybe. Preparing nearly twenty years for a maybe on one day. And to take it a step further, just because you are picked doesn't guarantee that you will make the roster once the season starts.
Getting drafted is an invitation to show off all of your preparation.
If those aren't enough odds stacked against you, there is a flurry that takes place once the draft concludes, where teams sign what they call "un-drafted free agents". These are players who were eligible for the draft but did not get selected. So the emotional high that comes with being drafted gets that much more complicated in the hours following the draft.
That's the stage. Now let's dig in to what we can unearth from this example.
First, let's look at what it means to be "On The Clock" from the team's perspective.
Teams employ scouts that work for them to watch these players develop for years. Incredibly detailed notes are made from massive amounts of games attended and game-film watched. Car rides, planes trips, and bus rides all over the country to find the next NFL Hall of Fame Player. Every move...on the field, in the classroom, and in the communities they live in and travel through is documented. One side step, and it could mean their "draft stock" plummets, or disappears all together.
In the months leading up to the draft, a team finalizes their plans. They know the clock is coming. They know it has a set limit. They know that if they wait to develop a plan until the clock starts, it'll be too little...too late. It's pretty rare that it happens, but there have actually been moments when a team cuts it too close and doesn't get their draft card turned in before the clock expires. When that happens? They risk the next team getting to jump ahead of them in line.
What we have talked about so far is the ultimate reminder.
Preparation has power that can turn our MAYBE into our destiny.
Have you found yourself in a position where you knew you were "On The Clock"? Where a decision needed to be made, and the closer the deadline came you became more stressed about the direction to take? Now imagine what it might be like to see being "On The Clock" as a countdown to celebration rather than intensified frustration. That is what happens when the entire process has a defined goal in mind, and is supported by preparation.
Just like these players know they want to play in the NFL, we need to take some time to take stock of where we are headed. We may not know the exact vocation, location, or manifestation of how it will play out. But we need to inventory our strengths, apply them to the things of this world that capture our heart, and solve problems that only our unique skill set can tackle.
If we don't we are living a life left to chance.
Left to chance..."On The Clock" becomes #TheMaybeClock.
For teams (and maybe organizations like yours) it might go something like this...
"Maybe we'll get a great player...but maybe we won't. We didn't look."
"Maybe that player has a high football IQ...but maybe he doesn't. We didn't check."
"Maybe that player is of high character...but maybe he isn't. We didn't ask."
Can you see the difference?
It stands out pretty clear when we use the NFL Draft as the lens to look through. It almost seems silly to even point out, doesn't it? I mean, of course these teams would do their due diligence. Of course these teams would spend countless hours uncovering every absolute detail about the players they may draft.
So that begs this slightly uncomfortable question...
Why do we undervalue the power of preparation in our own lives?
I'm not an NFL hopeful, but I want to get this right in my own life, as I'm sure you do. We all have dreams, goals, and plans. It's how we approach them that determines if we see them come to life. Whether we relate to the team (organizational) side of this journey, or the player, we can learn from both.
Let's flip the script and see what life looks like for the player in the game.
"Maybe all of this work will pay off and I'll get drafted."
"Maybe...even though I didn't get drafted, they'll sign me as a free agent."
"Maybe the free agents that were signed won't beat me out for a roster spot."
The single largest factor that takes the sting out of a maybe?
Doing what we can, with what we have, where we are.
When the hard work teams are doing meets the countless hours the athletes have spent preparing, that is when dreams come true for everyone involved.
Both for the player, and the team selecting them.
If we want to avoid having "On The Clock" become #TheMaybeClock, we need to dig in. We need to be rooted in our purpose. We need to begin with the end in mind, and make choices that keep us on course. There will be bumps, potholes, and detours along the way. But it's like the old saying goes "If it were easy everyone would be doing it".
Great callings come with great responsibility.
My college coach used to say "Do The Hard Work Early!" In other words, show up to camp in shape. Write the essay for your class before you have to. Do the research your competition doesn't want to. Why? If you are ready when it's early in the clock, you'll have time left to leverage every ounce of preparation you've made when you're "on the clock".
In the NFL Draft, teams are allowed to trade their picks. If you have a draft board ready, with players ranked (which all NFL teams do), you can field phone calls from others teams to try to improve your position in the draft. You could gain extra picks this year, other years, or even trade for another players. Sounds good, right?
Take it one step further. I mentioned before that you have ten minutes to do that in the first round. If you know what your draft board looks like before you are "On The Clock" ten minutes can feel like an eternity. It gives you time to squeeze every last drop of advantage out of that draft pick. But the longer the draft goes, the less time you have to pick. You also have to know more and more about players most of us have no clue even exist. Again...the details. Most clocks we see don't show the second hands anymore, but that doesn't make them any less valuable.
Teams who sustain excellence over time in the NFL know how to work the draft process like a conductor brings an entire orchestra together to play a beautiful symphony.
Players who understand they may have seconds on film to impress a scout, know the hours in a weight room, classroom, and serving their community is what makes them attractive and stand out in that moment.
The success of our audition starts with the intentionality in our preparation.
And it's over faster than we'd ever imagine.
Making every last second count separates the game-changers from the coasters.
An epic draft is measured in how well every single second is used...all year long. And the true impact of this year's draft won't be measured until years down the road. Many factors can impact the picks and how they integrate into the team's culture. Coaching changes, injuries, leadership styles, and so much more create the outcome we'll see in the future.
And that brings us back to something I mentioned in passing before that I want you to grab on to tightly as we wrap today's blog post up.
"...It may be that..." going all-in for a maybe is the posture we need to take, so that being "on the clock" doesn't turn into #TheMaybeClock.
Our opportunity today is to reflect on the areas of our journey that could use more intentional preparation. To really step back and see things from a fresh perspective. To value the destination so much that we'll embrace my college coach's motto of "doing the hard work early".
Practice whatever it is you are called to until you look up and see that your preparation has led you to your destination.
Ignore the doubters along the way. They are the ones who like #TheMaybeClock because there isn't any accountability. And without accountability, we drift...we don't truly live. That mindset also lives addicted to the immediate gratification of now, and has no appetite for the hard work that will help us fulfill our calling.
And one more thing...
Once we get there?
We need to resist the urge to get comfortable.
Keep working. Keep growing. Keep learning.
And if despite our best efforts, we never get "drafted"?
Ironincally, the best advice is the same advice.
Keep working. Keep growing. Keep learning.
What we thought was our destination might just be a brief rest stop.
Brief...brief rest stop.
Collect your breathe, reflect on your progress, but...
Keep working. Keep growing. Keep learning.
We might just be "on the clock" for something even greater.
And that's where we'll start tomorrow:
If we are tired of saying "Maybe" to our destiny, we need to embrace uncertainty.