Career Lessons from the Eagles

Pat Rose, Director of Career Services

The entire region is swept up in Eagles euphoria, as well we all should be.  The story of a team that rebounded from last year’s losing record, overcame injuries to key players on offense, defense and special teams and rallied around back-up quarterback Nick Foles through the end of the season and playoffs is inspirational.  The players followed Doug Pederson, a leader who was criticized just last year as the least qualified coach in the NFL to their first world championship.  How did they do it?

There are many answers, including a committed owner and a smart front office executive who made the right trades and drafted the right players.  But from a career standpoint, I want to focus on one quality shared by both coach and quarterback: they were themselves, and they believed in themselves.

Doug Pederson believed in his players, and so he took risks (on fourth downs, on points after touchdown tries) that they would perform well and succeed.  His risks were calculated risks (the Eagles are clients of a data analytics firm that can predict the likelihood of winning if certain decisions are made).  But Pederson mainly decided to be true to himself, which meant to do the unconventional and discard received wisdom, which was usually the conservative approach (punt, don’t go for it on fourth down; kick an extra point, don’t try to go for two).  Pederson believed in himself, and in his players, and in his own unique approach to the game. 

Likewise, Nick Foles exceeded expectations, and when asked after the game if he had been nervous, replied that he was actually calm.  He knew he didn’t have to be superman, he said. And he knew he was surrounded by awesome teammates, who could be counted on to do their jobs.  He made it sound easy. He didn’t try to be someone he wasn’t.  And he believed that what he was was a pretty good quarterback.   He was right.

Among all the lessons to take from the Eagles victory is the importance of being who you are, not who conventional wisdom or peers tell you to be.  It is not always easy to be confident in yourself, especially when expectations are high, or when you get off to an inauspicious start or if you are taking a different path.  But you have to do it.  You may not get a parade up Broad Street after a huge win, but there are other rewards to be had.  Go ahead, go for it, and good luck.    

Author: Patricia Rose

Patricia Rose is the Director of Career Services at the University of Pennsylvania.