By Jeff Beals
Have you ever seen The Blind Side? It’s an acclaimed movie based on a true story first described in a best-selling book by Michael Lewis. It’s quite an inspiring story.
The Blind Side introduces us to Michael Oher, one of 13 children born to a mother addicted to crack cocaine living in a Memphis housing project. When the story begins, the teenage Oher doesn’t know his father, his birthday or even his true last name. His reading and writing skills are almost non-existent. A victim of utter neglect, he spends his days and nights unsupervised, wandering the crime-ridden, inner-city streets.
Through a twist of fate – or perhaps divine intervention – Oher finds himself enrolled in an upscale, suburban prep school where he meets an affluent family that eventually adopts him. With this new love and support, he overcomes culture shock, catches up academically and discovers the game of football.
He not only discovers football, he turns out to be darned good at it, and receives a full-ride athletic scholarship to the University of Mississippi. Today, Oher is a star offensive lineman for the National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens and consequently a very wealthy man.
While the compelling story behind The Blind Side is the amazing metamorphosis of a young man, there’s a second story line: the evolution of the game of football. You see, there’s a reason why Oher is such a wealthy player today. He plays a position that is critically important and perhaps the most difficult one for a coach to staff: left tackle. There is a scarcity of truly great left-tackle talent. That makes Oher unbelievably valuable to coaches and team owners.
Why is the left tackle so important? Because he protects the quarterback’s blind side. Most quarterbacks are right handed, so when they drop back to pass, they can’t see pass rushers coming from their left sides. Given that, defensive coordinators usually line up their most ferocious athletes on the quarterback’s left side.
As the highest paid and typically most valuable player on the team, the quarterback must be protected at all costs. But it’s not enough for a left tackle to be big and strong. He must possess the rare combination of size, strength, speed, balance and agility. In other words, a left tackle must be a huge guy with the agility of a little guy. Very few human beings possess this priceless combination of abilities. Michael Oher is one of them.
As a quarterback, you need a world-class left tackle covering your blind side, your greatest vulnerability. If you get blindsided too much, you not only lose the game, you might lose your career.
Just like a professional quarterback, you are incredibly valuable. You are valuable to your company, your colleagues, your staff, your family, your friends, your community, and just as important, to yourself. Like a quarterback, you have a blind side that must be protected at all costs.
In today’s competitive, high-stakes economy, you can’t afford to be blindsided. You need protection. You need your own Michael Oher, so to speak.
So, who or what protects your blind side?
Your left tackle could be a trusted colleague, who keeps you informed, covers for you and stands with you when the going gets tough. Perhaps you serve as his or her left tackle when that person is distressed.
Your left tackle could be a staff with which you have built great synergy or a boss with whom you have developed a symbiotic working relationship.
Actually, your left tackle does not necessarily have to be a person. Your protector could be a carefully designed management system with checks and balances designed into it. It could be a strategic plan with contingencies built in.
Whatever or whoever you choose to be your left tackle, you need one. There’s no need to go through life paranoid, but take some time to develop your own left tackle. When your blind side is protected, you have a foundation to stand upon. You have the liberty and security necessary to take risks and chase your dreams.
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Jeff Beals delivers presentations to a wide variety of audiences nationwide. Presentations are adapted to fit your organization’s goals and can be keynote speeches (30 to 90 minutes) or workshops (two to four hours) covering the following topics:
- “Self Marketing Power: Branding Yourself as a Business of One”
- “Tons of Room at the Top: the Attitude of Success”
- “National Signing Day: Sales, Marketing & Personal Branding Lessons from College Football”