Updated July 18, 2019

Life and Money Lessons from Football

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Football might just be America's favorite pastime, with NFL season attendance consistently topping 7 million. The gridiron provides us with hours of entertainment at the stadium and on TV, but if we're paying attention, we can also learn some useful life and money lessons from football as well. Here are some of our favorites.

1. Be a team player.

Even the best player relies on the strength of the team to win a game, and the most effective teams know how to work together, exploiting their strengths and mitigating their weaknesses. Knowing how to be a team player is a critical skill in today's workplace, even if it's miles away from the football field in an office park. Being a good team player requires knowing the ground rules, which may take a while when you first start a job, and effectively disseminating information, just like a quarterback.

2. But keep your focus on your job, not the job of others.

Each member of the football squad has a specific job to do and must maintain his focus despite what his teammates are doing. This same focus on your own job can be hard to obtain when dealing with coworkers - especially those who aren't pulling their share of the load.

Read these tips from Jacquelyn Smith on how to deal with the lazy coworker without letting them drag you down with them.

3. Protect yourself.

A football player's physical fitness is directly tied to his fortune. An injury can be a major setback for a player's career and his bank account. Although we rarely think about that in the same terms, an injury can be just as damaging for the average worker. While the U.S. government provides a safety net for injured workers, private disability insurance can provide more extensive coverage until you're back on your feet. If that seems too extreme, do make a point of seeing if your health insurance coverage meets your needs, which may change as you age and as you add to your family.

Read this guide on how you can protect yourself from identity theft.

4. Small gains count.

The primary goal of a football team is always to score, but getting across the goal line usually requires a series of first downs. It's best to view credit card debt in a similar way when the overall goal (total payoff!) seems unattainable.

Use this credit card debt calculator to estimate how long it will take to conquer your debt based on your current monthly payment.

5. Offense and defense are equally important.

The best footballs teams have to play equally well on offense and defense to optimize their scoring opportunities and minimize the other team's advances. Similarly, managing a successful stock portfolio requires both aggressive offense by seeking out growth opportunities while at the same time employing a good defense by reducing risk exposure. This involves educating yourself about your investments, periodically checking in with how the choices you have made are paying off (or not) for you, and altering your investment strategy as you get older and your ability to make up for mistakes decreases.

Read this article from Brett Arends on how to globalize your stock portfolio.

6. Strive to do your best.

A big part of the reason spectators are so enamored with football athletes involves the fun of putting ourselves in their cleats (let's be honest, who wouldn't want to live Tom Brady's life or that of his wife, Gisele?). Many of them are stars in their own right, but even more interesting is their athleticism and their quick wit on the field. Think of all that training they have done, from their youth and their college days to now. Each example of a true NFL player (minus the ones who have had trouble with the law, of course) should inspire us all to push ourselves, whether we are exercising, aiming for a promotion, or just striving for a happier life.

7. Don't be afraid to celebrate victory.

You might want to stop short of pouring a cooler of Gatorade on coworkers, but celebrating victory in the workplace is critical for maintaining a happy workforce. Knowing when to reward and how to reward employees in a way that's meaningful to them can be a challenge, but these employee recognition tips will help you get the ball down the field, whether you are a boss or a just a caring coworker.

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