Everybody knows who he is. My nieces, my husband’s grandmother, my friend who has zero interest in professional sports — they’re all familiar with Tim Tebow.
He is a polarizing figure whose fame transcends the world of ESPN. Tebow has 1.7 million Twitter followers, he has launched his own foundation, he’s been spoofed on Saturday Night Live, and despite the fact that he’s been in the league for just two seasons, sales of his NFL jersey are second only to future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. A Google search of Tebow yields 49.8 million results. To put that into perspective, Manning’s name brings up 38.8 million results, Sarah Palin gets 39.6 million, and Nancy Pelosi’s name yields 10.8 million results.
You don’t have to be a sports fan to know his name.
But if you are, you know that the guy is a winner who has already achieved a huge amount of success. But unlike Peyton Manning, a quarterback with impeccable pedigree who has met high expectations at every level, Tebow has had to prove himself time and time again. Because his playing style is more typical of a fullback than a quarterback, Tebow has often faced criticism and had to work his way from backup to starter.
He’s used to leading from the rear.
He did it at the University of Florida, where he eventually led the team to two national titles and won the Heisman Trophy, and he did it last season with the Denver Broncos, where after taking over as starting QB, he lead the struggling team to a 7-4 record down the stretch and a surprising berth in the playoffs. Several of his wins were come-from-behind victories.
But that’s what Tebow does. When he is placed in a less-than-desirable position, he finds a way to make the situation work. Instead of shying away from adversity, he seems to embrace it. Perhaps that’s one of the things that makes him so compelling.
Most of us, at one point or another, have found ourselves in a situation that wasn’t quite what we expected, but what matters is how we choose to react. When I spoke with Ron Strachan of Community Health Network a few weeks ago, he talked about the interesting position he was put into when he took the CIO position last spring. Not only had the organization just selected a major system, but it was decided that the IT department — which had gotten “a bum rap” around a failed upgrade — was not going to lead the migration to Epic.
The project was going to be led by the clinical side of the house, which to Strachan is “really different. It’s like leading from the rear. And that, for most if not all of my CIO colleagues, is almost an unnatural act.”
Strachan had two choices: get out of Dodge, or stick around and make the best out of the situation. He chose the latter. And despite the fact that he had years of experience as a CIO and a project manager, he agreed to take a step back and view the situation as an opportunity — not as a crutch.
“I’m the kind of person who doesn’t shy away from responsibility,” he said. “And what I was being asked to do is quite a bit different, which was part of what was appealing about taking this job in that while it might be uncomfortable as I adapt to what’s being asked, it’s really an opportunity to develop a new set of skills.”
Strachan believes he has benefited from the experience and plans to continue to lead the project — whether it’s from the rear, or the front.
“It’s been everything that I had hoped for and certainly it’s been a lot of fun and it has taught me a different skill set — a new set skill,” he said. “We’re still in the mode of learning, but come September, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and figure out what it’s really going to look like, and then present and recommend that to our senior leadership team and let them react to it.”
These days, Tebow finds himself in a similar situation. A few months ago, he was traded to the New York Jets, where he will be the backup to starting QB Mark Sanchez. It’s not the ideal situation, but Tebow is happy to lead from the sidelines. For now, he’ll hold the clipboard and do whatever he can to improve the team while waiting for his chance to take the field.
If I were Sanchez, I’d watch out.