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Most of you probably know by now that I’m a big football fan, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my favourite team or my favourite player. My name is Mike, and I’m a Cheesehead. My favourite football team is the Green Bay Packers and my favourite football player of all time is #4, Brett Favre. Why do I like Brett? Let me count the ways. Brett Favre threw the most touchdowns in NFL history. He also threw the most interceptions. After every touchdown he ever threw, he acted as though he’d just made the greatest play in the history of professional football. And after each interception, he either threw a fit or looked dejected and destroyed…and then went out next time and tried to do it better. THAT is what I love about Brett Favre. And THAT is what I hate about Jay Cutler.

Now for those of you that don’t know, Jay Cutler is the QB for the Chicago Bears. He is, by all accounts, an incredibly talented football player with a great arm. And week in, week out, he loses. Just last week, a reporter was talking about him and went on a tirade about the fact that he might be the worst player in the NFL, mostly because he has the ability to be one of the best but wastes it, and doesn’t seem to care. If you want to see what indifference looks like, watch Jay Cutler right after he throws an interception. No one on the team, in the stands or at home seems to care LESST about throwing an interception than Jay Cutler.

Have you ever worked with someone like that? Isn’t it infuriating? I’ve worked and played with some incredible people and when people who can carry a load drop the ball, it drives me nuts. Now I’m not talking about people who make a mistake. I love people that make mistakes. People that make mistakes have an incredible habit of trying to make up for it. I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about the people that have the skills to pay the bills and just flat out don’t. THOSE people need to get gone. THOSE people will kill an organization faster than anything.

Why are people like this? As far as I can tell, there are three reasons.

Everybody Owes Me Something

There are a lot of people that think that everybody owes them something These are the people that will tell you that the company they work for should give them more money, less work, easier work, more vacation, more perks, less hassle, more bonuses, et cetera, et cetera. These people drive me off the rails. In my humble opinion, having worked for large corporations, small businesses and myself, here’s what your company owes you; a paycheck. And that’s IF and ONLY IF, you do the best job you can in a reasonable amount of time. That is it. They don’t owe you a pony or a shiny new car and you don’t get a backrub for every consecutive day that you don’t call in sick. You agree to work for a company. You agreed to do a job and they agreed to pay you. That is the extent of the relationship. Now if that company decides to give you free lunches and an indoor putting green, that sounds awesome but they don’t OWE it to you.

You owe it to yourself to do the best job that you possibly can. You owe it to yourself to be proud of the work you do. I used to coach high school field hockey. There was a janitor (yes, a janitor, not a custodian, his words, not mine) that usually worked after school when we practiced and had games. Now I’ve known some janitors who’ve come to realize that a dust ball here or a piece of garbage there is not the end of the world. He was not one of those janitors. He regularly checked with me to see if the floors were clean enough for practice, did extra cleaning and polishing for games and asked me almost every day if everything was to my liking. He didn’t need to. It wasn’t expected or required. He just wanted to do a truly great job. The next time you decide that you’re not going to go the extra mile because it’s 4:22pm on a Friday and you don’t feel like it, think of that guy, feel embarrassed about your behavior and get to work.

Participation Awards

When I was growing up, two people got a medal on my baseball team. One was the team MVP and the other was the MIP (most improved player). IF you won it all, you got medals or ribbons that showed that you had won something. These were because you and your team WON. You didn’t show up. You didn’t compete. You didn’t try. You won. There were no commemorative team plaques for getting blown out. There were no ribbons for losing seasons. Winners won stuff and losers didn’t.

But those days are gone. Now everyone wins a prize, we don’t keep score and at the end of the day the important thing is that we’re all good friends. The problem is that our entire life is a rather large-scale competition. Businesses that you work for are competing for clients. Those clients aren’t going to give an award of merit to everyone that wants their business. They’re not going to split the money between everyone who bid. There’s not a pizza party where they all get together and talk about how much fun the whole RFP process was. There are winners and there are losers.

The problem is that these companies, who understand that there are winners and losers are picking from a crop of people who believe that the world is one big award of merit. Furthermore, some of these companies are actually now being run by people who just want everyone to get along. I know. This all sounds mean and harsh. I’m not suggesting that everything should be whips and chains, nor that the beatings shall continue until morale improves. But we need to understand that business is business and get on with it.

War of Attrition

There was a time when the best man or woman got the job. That’s how it worked. People that did great work were promoted. They got corner offices and cushy retirement plans. People that didn’t perform for fired. They didn’t get terminated. Their jobs weren’t restructured. They got fired. But those days are gone. Now just showing up and hanging around is often enough to get you a cushy cubicle (but the retirement plans are all gone).

The problem is that people have figured this out. They know that doing your best work often has no bearing on your position within a company. Now this isn’t every company. Smart companies have smart people running them. But there are a lot of not smart people making some key decisions. It’s sad, but true. Many people feel like there is little to no reason for them to do a great job. So they don’t. They Jay Cutler it.

I don’t like Jay Cutler. I’ve never liked Jay Cutler. And I don’t like people that like Jay Cutler. Or people that are like Jay Cutler. I want people on my team that get fired up when they do a great job and people who hate losing. While it may seem like there is no reason not to, don’t be Jay Cutler. Don’t be that guy. Be the guy that rides in on the white horse and saves the day. Be that guy.

And if you throw an interception, care.

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