Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Lesson on Selflessness and Risk Management

Photo Credit: NFL.com
This is Keith Fitzhugh, former free agent with the New York Jets.  Recently he made headlines for turning down an offer to re-sign with the NFL team to continue working as a railroad conductor with Norfolk Southern Railroad, a stable occupation that allow him to provide for his parents financially.   While some may scoff at his decision, I commend him for his act of self-sacrifice, and completely understand how he could make such a decision. 
Having the chance to play for an NFL team is uncommon.  Becoming the next big NFL star is even more rare, as football careers are notoriously short-lived (or so I learned from watching VH1’s Football Wives and Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta), and filled with risk of injury, trades, and roster cuts.  I’m sure this was all too real for Keith Fitzhugh, who revealed that he was released from the team 3 times.   Now even though historical performance does not always dictate the future, given his tumultuous history with the team, a fleeting football career was surely a real possibility.   For someone who needs to assist a disabled father and a struggling mother, sometimes the guarantee of a steady paycheck with good benefits is more important than the chance for a lucrative (and uncertain) career as a professional athlete.
While most of us will not find ourselves in Fitzhugh’s predicament, we may face a similar situation in which we must assess our priorities in order to make a major life decision.  Maybe it is the decision to remain at your current job or to quit and pursue school full-time.  Or the decision to buy the sporty dream car you’ve been saving for, or the roomy, top safety pick for your growing family.  Both of these decisions involve some level of risk, and require you to assess what is most important to you.  In addition, these major decisions require you to adopt a long-term perspective.  While it may have been one of Fitzhugh’s dreams to be an NFL player, he knew that his family was his top priority.  He knew he needed to support his parents now because they may not always be around.  He knew that this stint with the NFL may only last a few weeks, while he may have a long stable railroad career that he loves (he notes that he loved both football and trains since childhood).  And most importantly, he knew that he could not risk his livelihood and family needs. 
So tell me, what’s more important to you than money and fame? How do you balance what you need vs. what you desire? Do you have your priorities in order? 

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