Being in the Red Zone means you now have a real opportunity to do something positive and maybe even memorable.
The college football season has begun, and the professional ranks are about to get underway. For me and for so many like me, this is a great time of the year, with football starting and baseball entering the final stretch before the playoffs. Sports have long been a passion of mine, as has human behavior in terms of leadership. It seems, at least for this sports fan, we can learn a bit about the latter by analyzing some aspects of the former.
In football, when the offense reaches the opponent’s 20-yard line, they are considered in the Red Zone. It’s called that because from this location on the field, they are likely to score – either a touchdown for 6 points, or at least a field goal worth 3 points. I assume the word “Red” is to signal to the opposition that they are in danger of being scored upon, so watch out!
Being in the Red Zone means you now have a real opportunity to do something good… to score, and you shouldn’t blow it. In the 2022 NFL season, teams scored a touchdown on an average of 75.82% of their possessions within the opponent’s 20-yard line. That’s a pretty good benchmark for teams when they have these opportunities to score. Recognize the opportunity and take advantage of it.
We get to experience “Red Zone moments” all the time in our workdays and as part of our personal lives as well.
These are the opportunities we have, especially as leaders or parents, to do the right thing, make a lasting positive impression, establish a precedent, create a positive environment, make someone smile or laugh, or… simply let the opportunity pass us by unnoticed or worse…use that chance to make things worse. It would be like throwing an interception from 10 or 20 yards out and having it run back for a touchdown by the other team. So close and now this?! But unlike the football example, those of us who pass up the great opportunities Red Zone moments offer us in life, usually have no regrets because we either didn’t recognize the moment or just didn’t care. Either is sad.
The speech you are about to make to your employees, the chance to recognize an outstanding performance, the pastor about to deliver a sermon, the father ready to comfort his child after a mishap – seemingly endless opportunities to make a positive difference. Other Red Zone moments are less obvious; passing someone in the hall or on the street who is clearly in some kind of emotional pain and saying nothing; knowing a co-worker is suffering because it’s the anniversary of a death in the family, or their first Mother’s Day without their mother…any number of small, yet significant opportunities to make a difference. I always come back to the example cited earlier of the pastor delivering a sermon. What an opportunity he or she is given, usually several times each weekend. Clergy of every denomination enter these Red Zone moments so frequently that I think many of them take it for granted and give it less than maximum effort. My wife and I have been fortunate for many years that we don’t have that concern in my church, but having lived in so many communities in the US and overseas, I can assure you, such moments are missed all the time. Imagine having 300–500 people sitting in front of you, waiting to hear your words, eager to hear your words, learn something, gain insight, or hear some words of encouragement or consolation. How can one pass up that opportunity to shine – to make a real difference? Yet, it happens often. I’m sure the reasons are plentiful and probably have some validity to them, but it’s still sad to see a wasted opportunity to have a positive impact on so many in so short a time.
Be aware of YOUR Red Zone moments.
They most likely manifest themselves daily, so the chances are many. Don’t waste them – USE them. Use them to teach a valuable lesson, to set the right example, to make someone smile, or just feel a little bit better. We all have such power, and it would be a shame to not use it wisely and well.