Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Humility and Drive

From all pro running back to dancer to real estate tycoon, Emmitt Smith has done things well all his life.

An interesting article appeared in Fortune Magazine about Emmitt. The following is what I thought was very cool:

Smith was pondering the endgame of his career while other young players were still discussing their next extravagant purchase. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who made his own fortune (estimated to be about $1 billion, give or take) in real estate, recalls Smith approaching him early during the player's career with a unique request: Could he observe Jones "doing business" in order to see how a successful entrepreneur conducted himself?

"During breaks in practice he'd sit on a couch in my office and just watch me talk on the phone," Jones recalls. "He was soaking it all up and figuring out ways he could put what he heard to work." Jones says Smith's request reminded him of, well, himself, when as a young man he traveled to the now defunct American Football League meetings and sat in the lobby in hopes he'd "brush into" Lamar Hunt, one of the league's founders (who died in December). "I was 23, 24 years old and was starting to think the opportunity to get into pro football had passed me by. But you've got to have the vision. More than any player I've had, Emmitt has always had a vision."

What impressed me about this was two things. One, Emmitt did not sit on his laurels, he kept driving knowing that his football career would not last forever. He was making a plan for the future. And two, he did not act like many professional athletes who think they are above most other people. He humbled himself so he could learn. This is a lesson we can all learn from.

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