You’d Be Surprised At Some Bad Choices Others Have Made

The NFL Draft was last weekend How hard is it to select prospects and be right? Not hard at all if you don’t have to do it yourself.

Consider the National Football League. There are 32 teams, and the least valuable is worth well in excess of $2 Billion. The top five collectively are worth more than $26 billion. The teams are well organized and have the money to pick players that will add to their fan appeal and team value.

How well they draft prospective players is a key variable. They have the resources and the incentive to get it right, but they make mistakes.

It is safe to say we all make decisions in prospect that end up as duds. We are in good company.

It isn’t about money, ability or lack of effort.

They just miss sometimes. The future is about opinion, and variables you didn’t notice.

Jerry Rice is generally accepted as the greatest player in NFL History. Was he the first selected in his draft year? He was not. He was 15th. Was he the first wide receiver drafted? Again no, he was the third. You’d think that the guy who would become the greatest player in history at any position would have been easy to pick, but no. Sometimes teams have other positional priorities. In 1985, two of the fourteen picked ahead of Rice were defensive ends that went to the Hall of Fame, so not bad. Of the other fourteen, eight were selected for the Pro Bowl, the all-star game. Of those, the two earlier selected wide receivers are among them. Maybe okay. But c’mon guys, two of you needed a wide receiver and missed Jerry Rice.

Maybe Jerry Rice is an aberration. Who is ranked number 2 on the all-time best list? Tom Brady, of course. He might move up someday, but for now, #2. Did he go number 1? No. How about the top 32? Again no. Top 100? No. How about the top 200? Yes indeed. But only barely. He was the 199th pick. Also, the 7th quarterback chosen. Selecting prospects is not as easy as it looks in retrospect.

All-time numbers 3, 4, and 5, Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, and Walter Payton were picked second, sixth, and fourth overall. Good picks.

And the number 6 on the list, Joe Montana. Picked 82nd and the third quarterback chosen. As Maxwell Smart would say, “Missed by that much.”

In your case

You don’t have a team of skilled fellow professionals, huge money, or other resources like videotape, interviews, tryouts, or four years of college career observations. You do have to make decisions to influence your future, though. You might be wrong sometimes. You might make an okay decision that was not the best possible. You could miss by a lot.

It’s going to happen, you must take it in stride.

The bit to take away.

Don’t beat yourself up over projection errors. No one knows the future. No one gets it right every time over a long time. If you focus on what you missed, your life will be unpleasant. Instead, look at every weak decision as a lesson. You get better over time. The point of success is reached when you know that you will be wrong, maybe often, yet you make many decisions and follow up wisely. Make many decisions. That’s important. Nurture good choices, and let them flourish. Quit a tactical choice as soon as you know it isn’t going to work. Trying to fix bad decisions ties up resources in unproductive ways. But always stay true to your vision. Quitting on your dream is the quitting that harms you.


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I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals. In the past, I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning. I have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at don.shaughnessy@gmail.com.

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