The Brett Farve Syndrome

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If you’re a sports fan, especially professional football, then you’ve kept up with the retirement saga of Brett Favre over the past two years.

As I watched the playoff game yesterday evening, I witnessed the “value” of a 40-year old quarterback, who simply refused to be set aside because he knew he could still perform at a high level. I watched a 40-year old leader perform with great courage; an individual that has been subjected over the last two years to a barrage of intense criticism, sarcasm and ridicule for refusing to just go away.

More importantly, as I watched the sidelines during the game, I witnessed an entire team look to this 40-year old individual for wisdom, maturity, and experience. I watched him encourage, motivate, embrace and lead by example; characteristics that any of us would aspire to, not only as leaders, but for what we look to from those who lead us. As I watched, I knew that if he faltered, they would all falter. He knew that, as well.

I’ve often wondered over the past few months, why it made any difference at all to so many of the experts and analysts. Why did they invest so much time trying to influence this particular individual to just go away? What was so bad about this individual still wanting to be given the opportunity to contribute and continue to add value; especially because he knew he could?

At the same time, I couldn’t help but wonder how many “Brett Favres” there are that have been restructured out of the workplace in the last eighteen months. How many organizations have taken the position that a professional of a certain age has reached their maximum potential, is no longer of value, and simply needs to be ushered out to make way for the next generation.

Truth Be Told, each individual’s circumstances are unique, but I wonder how many organizations will never get to the “playoffs,” much less the marketplace “super bowl” because they spent more time and money trying to replace their “Brett Favre’s” instead of investing in them.

Published by The Leadership Consortium

Maxie Carpenter was formerly Vice President of HR & Talent Development for Wal-Mart Stores. After a 27-year career, he began to pursue a number of other interests, which included alternative education, nonprofits, consulting, writing and public speaking.

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