Many people have plan A and they intend to work it forever. Others have a Plan B. Just in case.
One such person is New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. In the 2000 NFL draft he was chosen in the 6th round, 199th overall. Despite having won a national championship and been a leader at University of Michigan, he saw his late draft choice as reason to be prepared for other eventualities.
His plan A worked out. Four SuperBowl titles, three times SuperBowl MVP. Twice league MVP, ten time all-star. Certain Hall of Fame selection. Big income and big net worth.
But he was not sure of that outcome in the beginning, and after his senior year at Michigan he prepared a resume so that he would have a career elsewhere if football did not work out. You could take a look at it here. The Boston ESPN Blog. It seems somehow silly in retrospect but based on the facts of the day, it was not a foolish thing.
Holding on to Plan B for a while is always a smart move. It gives you freedom with Plan A. You can be more assertive when you know there is a fallback position. You do not need to be defensive and thus mediocrity seeking. Great success follows intense effort and intense effort recognizes the possibility of failure.
No matter how good things look in the beginning, there is no guarantee provided for the future. Consider other quarterbacks:
- JeMarcus Russell, first overall in 2007. Started 24 games in three seasons and is gone.
- Ryan Leaf, second overall in 1998. Started 21 games in four years. Done.
- Akili Smith, third overall in 1999. Started 17 games in 4 seasons. Done.
Other sports have their share of unfulfilled potential. Businesses have sometimes hired people who did not work out. Universities and governments too. Some marriages don’t work. Some children don’t grow up as expected. Some businesses fail.
If you attach your success to a single method, you unnecessarily limit yourself. Few people end up where they expect.
Having Plan B is just good judgment about dealing with the vagaries of the real world.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.