If you feel disrespected as a leader you please know you are in good company. I have been there as have many others. The story of Aaron Rodgers, the star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, is one all leaders can find comfort in.
Not recruited by a single Division I college, Rodgers was forced to attend junior college. Then after starting for two seasons at Cal University, he expected to be the first pick in the NFL Draft. Unfortunately, he waited 5.5 hours in the green room before being drafted 24th overall by the Green Bay Packers as the entire country watched.
He had to patiently sit behind Brett Favre for several seasons and politely endure his on-again off-again retirements. But when opportunity finally presented itself, Rodgers took full advantage of it.
Recently, Rodgers was profiled on an episode of E:60. The following are 26 lessons gleaned from the program about Rodger’s personal journey of being overlooked and disrespected. All comments are from Rodgers unless otherwise noted.
- “I’ve had a chip on my shoulder since I was 17 years old. I’ve always felt my skills were under-appreciated. I’ve been overlooked.”
- People Will Often Disappoint You – “My contract doesn’t say I have to get Aaron Rodgers ready to play.” – Brett Favre
- “He’s gone down a road hardly anyone’s had to go down.” – Ed Rodgers, Aaron’s father
- Character Is Formed At An Early Age – “Days were tight. Money got tight.”
- “Those are great character lessons. Life lessons that I think are invaluable to go through.” – Ed on having little financial means.
- Know Your Strengths – “Without batting an eye he said I’m going to improve your sports program.” – Aaron’s mom Darla Rodgers quoting him during a private high school entrance interview.
- Develop Self-Confidence – “Confidence is something I’ve never lacked. That to me is the most important quarterback trait. You have to have confidence in yourself to install confidence in others.”
- Don’t let others define you. Florida State and all Division I colleges did not offer Rodgers a scholarship after high school.
- Develop What Can’t Be Measured – “Far too much weight is put into your height, your weight, 40 times, bench press, things you can measure. Your character, your confidence, your mental toughness, your physical toughness – not as much weight is put into that.”
- Your Talent Will Be Eventually Recognized – Rodgers was discovered when Cal head coach Jeff Tedford came to his college JUCO to recruit one of his teammates.
- Continually Prove Yourself – “(At Cal) I was able to pass up a number of guys (who were) highly recruited, highly touted, who didn’t have same feeling to prove themselves all the time that I did.”
- Persevere – “He had to persevere and be a gentlemen for 5.5 hours.” – Darla during the NFL Draft
- Remember Embarrassment – “It was embarrassing.” – Rodgers of the Draft.
- Just Because One Person Doesn’t Recognize Your Talent Doesn’t Mean Others Feel The Same – “Someone’s going to get themselves a heck of a steal.” – Mel Kiper
- Embrace Opportunity – “We’re just glad he got picked by a team.” – Ed
- Going to the Packers was a blessing in disguise. It meant there was no immediate pressure to play. Rodgers had time to develop his skills.
- Don’t Be Naive – “We’re all men and we know it’s a business.”
- “I’m incredibly proud of you he handled all the pressure of following the legend Brett Favre. It was a very, very difficult political mess.” – Darla
- Life Is Sometimes Unfair – “It’s not a fun situation to be in. Having to get in front of 50 cameras every week and answer the same questions (about Favre) was not fun. And unfair as well.”
- Don’t Become Bitter. Become Thankful – “I’m thankful for an organization that stood behind.”
- Earn Trust – “It was his team and he earned everybody’s trust week in and week out.” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy
- Remain Confident – “He’s confident in his own ability and it’s like can you stop me?” – teammate Greg Jennings
- Continue To Improve – “He kept getting better and better as the season went on. As the challenges heightened Aaron stepped his game up.” – McCarthy
- Deliver Results – “It (winning the Super Bowl) gave my game some legitimacy.”
- Always See The Positive In Your Journey – “Being the underdog has been a positive for me…I’ve always kept those doubters on my mind and enjoyed the opportunity to prove those people wrong.”
- Most Importantly Become A Great Person Above All Else – “I don’t desire anymore to be the best quarterback in the NFL. I want to be remembered as one of the best men who ever played quarterback in the NFL.”
Aaron, you are one the NFL’s best men. I’m praying you have a great season.
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