Drew Brees just became the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards when he surpassed Peyton Manning in a Monday Night Football game. Brees is surely destined for Canton, Ohio and the Pro Football Hall of Fame once he retires. However, it didn’t look that way when Brees was coming out of Purdue University and was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2001 NFL draft. He was considered too short to be a sure-fire NFL Quarterback. In fact, seven games into his first NFL season, he was unexpectedly thrust into action when the starter got hurt. Brees preceded to fumble the ball the first time he dropped back to pass. In 2006, he tore his rotator cuff and was no longer wanted by his team. New Orleans embraced him and welcomed him. He would reward the team (and city) with their first Super Bowl championship in 2009.
Brees believed in himself even when the doubters were all around. He worked at his craft to overcome his perceived weaknesses. He worked to make himself better. He had an attitude that was contagious as he positively influenced his teammates. William Shakespeare once said, “Sweet are the uses of adversity.” Brees used his adversity to fuel his desire and inspire those around him.
Brees faced adversity – physical stature, injury, and critics – but through it all, he never wavered in his belief. He never shied away from the work required to overcome the challenges he faced. Because of this, he was able to accomplish and do more than anyone ever expected.
There are countless examples of people overcoming the odds or “failing forward” to accomplish great things. Here are just a few that I think are really interesting …
- Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job because he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.
- J.K. Rowlings was on welfare when she began writing her first Harry Potter story.
- Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job allegedly for being too emotionally invested in her stories.
- Dr. Seuss had his first book rejected by nearly 30 publishers.
- Abraham Lincoln lost 8 different elections before becoming, arguably, the greatest U.S. President.
William Arthur Ward said, “Adversity causes some men to break and others to break records.” We definitely know what adversity did to the NFL’s all-time passing leader Drew Brees.
Jamy Bechler is the author of The Leadership Playbook, host of the Success is a Choice Podcast, professional speaker, and trains organizations on creating championship cultures. Bechler spent 20 years as a college basketball coach and administrator. He has worked with businesses and teams, including the NBA. Follow him on twitter at @CoachBechler. To connect with him via email or find out about his services, please contact speaking@CoachBechler.com.