I love sports, but I'm not a big fan of sports commentary - especially as it appears on Twitter and Facebook shortly after a big event like the Super Bowl. Don't get me wrong, I still read it, but most of the time I just shake my head. Most recently, I've been somewhat amused with the discussion of who's the G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time) QB in the NFL. I've read passionate arguments for men like Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and even one or two for my all-time favorite NFL QB, Dan Marino. But all the arguments seem somewhat silly to me, and here's why.
A QB is only as good as the lucky bounces he gets on the field. And the unfortunate injuries his opponents suffer right before a big game. And the calls made by the offensive coordinator. And the calls made by the defensive coordinator. And the calls made (or not made) by a group of referees. And the tackles missed in the open field after his receiver catches a 2-yard pass. And the running back who can take over the game and make his passing stats irrelevant. And the defensive lineman who wreaks havoc on him because of poor blocking. And a myriad of other factors that the QB doesn't control.
But my real concern is that our constant discussion of this concept in sports seems to have leaked into the business world, and I, unfortunately, encounter leaders who are seemingly worried about being the G.O.A.T. It's as if they hope to one day die and have a movie made about them ala Steve Jobs or a book written about them ala John Rockefeller. So, they try to control things they can't and continually fret over their legacies.
Don't misunderstand me. I think picturing the legacy we want to leave is valuable, but what makes Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and even Dan Marino worthy of banter about being the G.O.A.T is that in their moments of execution, that's not what they're thinking about. They don't worry about throwing the perfect pass, they just try to throw a catchable one. They don't stand at the line trying to audible to the perfect play, they just audible to one that will put their teammates in a position to make a play. They don't sit on the sidelines imagining who's going to play them in the movie, they focus on what they need to do better the next time they take the field.
As leaders, we won't be the G.O.A.T unless we stop thinking about it! The focus has to be on being the best leader we can be in the moment. If we do that, our legacies will take care of themselves.