If Alex Smith, starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers at the start of the season, looked in his crystal ball and saw that his team would be in the Super Bowl, he would have started visualizing the touchdown passes he’d make. But it wasn’t to be. For most of the season, Alex Smith was the highest rated quarterback in the NFL. In November he suffered a concussion and was replaced by Colin Kaepernick. Although he was subsequently cleared by doctors to play, head coach Jim Harbaugh never looked back. For the rest of the season Smith sat on the sidelines, suddenly the number-two to Kaepernick. Even in the Super Bowl.
|“Smith is the example of how the best weapon against… daily blows is not jealousy or rage, but responsibility and resilience.”
The New York Times
But rather than pout and complain, he mentored Kaepernick and publicly complimented him. He praised the coaching staff. ESPN says Smith “has been professional at every turn.” Greg Roman, the 49ers’ offensive coordinator, is quoted as saying of Smith, “He understands football is a team sport, whereas the entire world tries to make it a sport of individuals.” The class he has shown has not been lost on the NFL. According to ESPN, there is high demand for Smith among other teams.
Smith says he’s not trying to be a good role model. “I want to be the same teammate that I’ve always expected my teammates to be,” he says. And he was on call if his team needed him. “You stay ready. The good ones stay ready,” Smith says.
Just as Kaepernick was ready when Smith got injured. His readiness gave him the chance to be the starting quarterback on a Super Bowl team, rather than just a short-term sub.
There are lessons here for the business world. Passed over for a promotion? Was a colleague tapped to present to the client instead of you? Asked to stay behind while the rest of the team is off to an important meeting?
The good ones stay ready for their time to shine. Moping and undermining your perceived rivals will only make you an outcast. Find a way to help in any capacity. Stay relevant to the team and stay sharp. The good ones stay ready for their big moment.
Ben Shpigel of The New York Times wrote, “Smith is the leading man who shows up with a sore throat and is immediately demoted to understudy…the top salesman who misses work because of flu and is immediately passed over for a promotion. Smith is the epitome of the inherent unfairness that is present everywhere from the highest corporate office to the youngest Little League baseball team. Yet Smith is the example of how the best weapon against these daily blows is not jealousy or rage, but responsibility and resilience.”
Sometimes life is unfair. But the good ones stay ready.