American sports fans have been buzzing like crazy now that NFL football is back. Sundays are no longer dreaded as the end of a quick weekend and the beginning of another long work week. Instead, we look forward to them as a chance to forget about the world for a few hours and stand behind the team we’ve supported since birth. When we’re not screaming at our television, we become glued to our smartphones. We can’t wait to refresh the latest player stats so we can monitor our chances of winning in fantasy football, aka the greatest sport alive for the non-professional athlete.
I’m assuming you know why it’s the greatest, so I’m just going to dive right into why I think playing it makes you a better employee (if you don’t know why it’s the best, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). Competition in your office league is about to reach new heights because fantasy football helps you hone the following business skills:
1. Talent Evaluation – Every fantasy football season begins with a draft. We act as GMs and evaluate potential team members based on a variety of factors, the core of which is statistics. On paper, stats are the most reliable way to predict future performance. We do our best to choose the most talented players based on our pick in the draft order and continue to evaluate our rosters over the course of the season.
As you advance in your career or decide to start your own business venture, you are going to hire people to be on your team. While you might have some more context on these potential candidates through references and personal interactions, a lot of what you judge them on is their past performance, i.e. resume. At the end of the day, your decision to hire someone is a speculation of positive future performance, just as it is in fantasy football. If someone fails to meet your talent expectations, you fire him just as you would drop an underperforming player.
2. Negotiation – Just when you think your fantasy football team is in the gutter and you’re about to throw in the towel, you decide to make a trade. You tried adding and dropping players to no avail. It’s time to cut a deal with one of your friends and hopefully turn your season around.
As you advance in your career, negotiation becomes an invaluable skill. Maybe you’re switching companies and making your case for a higher salary. Maybe you’re brokering a new business deal that will accelerate your company’s growth. Whatever the situation may be, you need to learn how to convince people to come to terms with you in a way that creates value for both parties. In essence, fantasy football trading 101.
3. Strategy – As the owner of your team, you go into every football weekend with a game plan. You likely start your early round draft picks and shuffle around the rest of your team according to matchups, recent performances, hunches, spite, etc. Regardless of the reason, you put careful thought into your final lineup choices with the hope that your players exceed your expectations.
If you want to make it big in your career, you have to think often about where you’re headed long-term and how you’re going to get there. With the end game in mind, you try to craft a career path that inches you closer to your vision of success. Like fantasy personnel decisions, your career plan is based on assumptions that you believe give you the best chance of winning. These assumptions will change based on experience and factors outside your control. Those who adjust best and alter their game plans accordingly have the greatest chance of succeeding.
4. Competitiveness – Let’s be honest. Aside from money and other silly bets, you play fantasy football for bragging rights. There’s nothing better than letting a friend have it after talking smack to them all week and having your team backing you up. Just like playing sports, the goal of fantasy football is to win, plain and simple.
If you’re working at a more traditional organization, you’re competing every day with your peers for that eventual promotion. Not everyone can be CEO. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re compete every day to keep current customers and acquire new ones. In both fantasy football and the working world, the people who refuse to be second best and play by their own rules are the ones who will edge out their competitors and come out on top. How bad do you want it?
You now have my permission to pass this along to your boss if he or she catches you modifying your fantasy football lineup. Cheers!