Okay, even if you’re not a football fan, this is relevant if you own a business, manage a team or organization, or aspire to lead others. This is for you because it is a lesson in appreciation, understanding human nature and demonstrates with great clarity what true value looks like.
First, super quickly, the backstory just in case you’re not a fan or missed this story when it landed in mid April, 2019. If you know the story, feel free to skip ahead to the next paragraph. The Seattle Seahawks are an NFL franchise based in Seattle, Washington. Russell Wilson is their 30 year old superstar Quarterback who just became the highest paid player in the sport after signing a four-year, $140 million contract. He also happens to be married to one of music’s biggest stars, Ciara.
But this is not about the value of dollars or stardom, it’s about redefining value through Wilson’s actions. Soon after the news broke of the contract, it was followed by headlines of Wilson gifting each of his 13 offensive linemen with $12,000 in Amazon stock and a thank you letter as appreciation for their efforts. In his letter, Wilson outlined why he was thankful and it is in these words that our lesson begins. The following are excerpts from his note.
Value In Action – A Play By Play Breakdown
Value is not about what we do, it’s about understanding and communicating the impact of what we do.
“You sacrifice your physical and mental well-being to protect me, which in turn allows me to provide and care for my family. This does not go unnoticed and it is never forgotten. Now it is my turn to return the favor. I would not be where I am today without you working to be great day in and day out.”
Offensive linemen in football are hired to protect the quarterback. That is what they do. But here, Wilson not only acknowledges their sacrifice, but he connects what that sacrifice means to him on and off the field. This is as much about an emotional and personal impact as it is a functional impact of the job. He cements the acknowledgement with the sustainability of the linemen’s value for the long-term, stating that he will continue to need them just as much in the future. A simple, yet extremely powerful illustration of understanding the value of others you work with.
“One important lesson I have learned thus far in my career: The memories on the field will last forever, but we have to constantly prepare for life after football…I am gifting you and your family, $12,000 worth of Amazon stock to help you achieve your dreams. You have invested in my life…this is my investment into yours.”
Here, Wilson is clearly communicating his grasp of each lineman’s value not only to him, but to their own lives and the lives of their families. This is an absolutely beautiful act of humanity in an otherwise violent sport. First, he is sharing wisdom he values with people he cares for. He is imparting a message that so many people (especially in the NFL) struggle with in preparing for life after a career. Next, he again acknowledges his lineman’s investment in his life. This is so much more than “nice block” or “good job.” This statement is a clear bell that says, “you matter, I appreciate and need you and I want to thank you today and into tomorrow.”
Building Your Own Value Playbook
Nearly 96% of the more than 3500 people we have touched through ValueMapping™ workshops and consulting engagements tell us they acknowledge that customers and peers care more about the impact of what they do than the actual job they perform. They acknowledge that business spends volumes of time asking the wrong questions about what people, products, processes and strategies “do,” when we really should be considering and discussing the “impact” of what they do.
Take inventory of how value is defined in your organization
Who are your offensive linemen and how do you define their value? Do they know this information? How do they define their own value? These are questions every leader should be asking. The ValueEquation™ is our tool for beginning the conversation and helping people realize there is more to their value than they think. The equation consists of three questions which open doors to deeper insight as well as a path to easier communication.
- What ONE WORD most clearly defines my value to my team/organization? – There is undoubtedly more than one word but this structure creates focus.
- WHY did you choose that word? – This consideration allows for clarification of the key drivers supporting how you perceive your value.
- What is the IMPACT of your one word? – This is the payoff, the resulting outcome of your value. Consider both the cognitive, functional impact as well as the emotional.
Create time for meaningful dialogue
Business is more constrained than ever with challenges to value. Bottom line revenue, profit and risk reduction are the priorities which dominate mindset and squash leadership’s ability to focus and commit to what appears to be “another thing to do.” But real value exists in the balance of both functional and emotional impact, and that balance must be intentionally baked into an organization. This requires a firm commitment from leadership. Making time for meaningful dialogue means focusing on aligning value in meetings, tasks, projects and strategies. It means ensuring there is authentic, two-way communication about goals so that leaders, managers and those tasked with execution understand their value and impact to the end-game.
Want Proof? Look At What We Know About Russell Wilson From His Value Equation
There is an old saying, “the proof is in the pudding.” I’ll modify to say the proof is in the play. If you want proof that this all makes sense and is real, I challenge you to read the full story and letter about Russell Wilson’s thank you. Then ask yourself what you learned about how he values his teammates, himself and his family. Ask yourself how you would feel as a member of his offensive line. Sure, we don’t “know” Russell Wilson and this is not a verdict on him as a human being. But it is a statement about how to look at value from a different lens and challenge each other to acknowledge that there is more to our value that what we do.
About Al Emerick
Human connectivity is the foundation for Al whose career has remained rooted in communication, leadership and messaging. He founded ValueMapping to help society more deeply understand and be able to authentically communicate value through impact. His systemized, patent-pending approach reaches across all business sectors due to its human-based approach. Today, ValueMapping lifts private industry, non-profit, small business, and individuals through consulting, workshops and online training.