Most people know that I am a huge fan of the Seattle Seahawks. In fact, I picked the Seahawks as my team when I first started watching football at the age of nine. As a young boy in New Jersey, many questioned my allegiance, but once I made up my mind, I never looked back. Like with most teams, there were years where the losses outnumbered the wins and years where we made the playoffs. When Russell Wilson joined the team, being a Seahawks fan in the Northeast quickly became a lot more understandable.
Watching Russell Wilson in action– on and off the field– has taught me so many valuable lessons that I’ve applied to my own life, personally and professionally. Obviously, I experienced pure joy when the Seahawks won their first Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos in 2014. But beyond this major victory, Russell Wilson reinforced the importance of being an upstanding citizen and an effective leader. Here are three of the biggest things I’ve learned by watching my football idol:
One of Wilson’s philosophies is “the separation is in the preparation.” He truly believes that to achieve greatness in your field, you have to put in the work. As such, he spends significant time off the field studying game film and working on the game plan. From the time he attended Peyton Manning’s Passing Academy in 10th grade, he’s written down his goals on a daily basis. One that stands out is, “treat every day, no matter what year it is, if it’s Year 1 or Year 12, treat every day and every play as if you’ve never heard it before.”
Through my work at Strategies for Wealth, we believe that preparation is everything. Helping our clients prepare financially for unexpected twists and turns allows them to focus on the things they want to achieve in life. We need to put in the work to understand the full picture of our clients’ needs– covering their goals, concerns and their values– so that we can work as a team to structure a plan that will withstand the biggest risks. We also need to make sure that we are prepared with up to date strategies due to the ever changing nature of the marketplace, rules and regulations.
Live in the present and stay neutral
Wilson worked extensively with a mental conditioning coach, the late Trevor Moawad, who became his close friend, mentor and business partner. Trevor taught him that the past has happened, there is no changing that, but it doesn’t need to define what happens next. One of things that we Seahawks fans love about Wilson is that he never believes the team is out of contention in any situation. His neutral mindset and composure are two of his most defining leadership traits. I’ve lost count of the number of times he’s been able to engineer fourth quarter comebacks and game winning drives. By staying focused on the present, he’s able to stay calm and maintain his composure to make the best decisions possible wherever he is,from this point forward even when a play seems to be breaking down or win probability is slim.
Similarly, the savviest business leaders don’t crack under pressure; they remain calm in moments of crisis or chaos. After all, employees are looking at leaders to set the tone for the organization. If leaders show their confidence and composure, employees will hopefully feed off that energy, just like Wilson’s teammates do with him. That’s why if a client or team member is going through a tough time, I try to work with them to find the silver lining of their individual situation and continue to make the best decision from wherever we find ourselves.
Give back to your community
Russell Wilson’s commitment to the Seattle community has been evident from the moment he was drafted to the Seahawks. Each week during the season, Wilson and his wife Ciara visit families and children at Seattle Children’s Hospital to sign autographs and bring joy to those struggling with health issues. He’s donated millions to his Strong Against Cancer Initiative and donated more than one million meals to Food Lifeline at the height of the pandemic. For Wilson, his connection to the community isn’t about photo opps or social posts, it’s about setting a tone and example for his peers and those who follow his efforts on the field.
In my personal life, my wife and I have worked hard to instill the importance of charity and with our daughters. From a young age they have both worked hard to raise funds and awareness for the fight against childhood cancer and childhood hunger. We hope they continue to give back to their communities well into adulthood.
A love-driven leader
When Wilson accepted the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, he invoked Payton’s famous words, “We are stronger together than we are alone. To the young boy or girl who has a dream ... who wants to make a difference ... remember: Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love changes things.”
Russell Wilson has taught me and countless others what it means to be an incredible human being and unflappable leader. Even if his time on the Seahawks is fleeting (please don’t let it be), I’ll continue to follow his lead by seeing the glass half full and doing what’s best for the greater good.