One Important Key to Life and Career Success

While this is a career advice blog, I cover a variety of topics.  Sports can teach us many life and career success lessons.  So today, I want to discuss an NFL game that happened last night.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I’m a Pittsburgh guy, a big American Football fan and an even bigger Pittsburgh Steelers fan.  Last night, the Steelers played the Baltimore Ravens.  It was a tough, brutal game. 

The Ravens broke Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger’s nose the first time the Steelers had the ball.  The report from the bench during the game was the Big Ben’s nose wasn’t broken, just bloodied.  Having broken my nose five or six times during my rugby playing days I thought, “Who are they kidding?  I know a broken nose when I see one.” 

After the game, the coaching staff admitted that Big Ben’s nose was indeed broken.  It’d difficult to play with a broken nose.  It hurts and it’s hard to breathe.

But Big Ben isn’t the focus of this post and today’s career advice.  Troy Polamalu is.  Troy Polamalu is the Steelers strong safety.  He won last week’s game against Buffalo with an interception late in the game, and he won last night’s game by causing a Ravens fumble that led to the Steelers only touchdown that allowed them to win 13 – 10.

Tweet 138 in Success Tweets, my latest career success coach book says, “We all make mistakes.  Own up to yours.  You’ll become known as a straight shooter, honest with yourself and others.”  If you don’t already have a copy of Succes Tweets, you can download one for free at

Point 7 of The Optimist Creed, one of my favorite writings on career success says, “Promise yourself to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.” 

Sometimes the mistakes of the past can be but a distant memory.  Sometimes they can be but a few hours.

Troy Polamalu is a great player.  But even great players make mistakes.  Last night, Troy Polamalu made a big mistake early in the game.  He lost the man he was guarding in the end zone, allowing him to score a touchdown – the only one Baltimore would score all night.

But he kept playing hard.  And late in the game he caused the fumble that won the game.  Writing on, James Walker said, “Polamalu’s well-timed blitz could be the biggest play in Pittsburgh’s regular season…Many players can make plays.  But very few can make them consistently when the game is on the line…That is the rare category that Polamalu is in.”

But even great players make mistakes.  One of the reasons Troy Polamalu is a great player is that he forgets his mistakes, and as The Optimist Creed says, “press on to the greater achievements of the future.” 

Ann Landers, the famous advice columnist once said…

“If I were asked to give what I consider to be the single-most useful bit of advice for all humanity, it would be this: expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye, and say ‘I will be bigger than you.  You cannot defeat me’.”

I like what Ann Landers has to say here because it is a bit of reality check.  She’s right, trouble – and setbacks and failure – are an inevitable part of like.  Self confident people look trouble squarely in the eye and move forward.  They are not cowed by their failures, rather they embrace them and use them to move towards their goals.  They also own up to their mistakes.  In this way, they become widely trusted.  And trust is the glue that holds together all relationships. 

Last night, Troy Polamalu held his head high, looked trouble squarely in the eye and didn’t let it defeat him.  He made a terrbile play early in the game, and a great play later that won the game.  His teammates trust him.  One of them said, “He watches film like no other player.  In practice, you can see that he knows exactly what to do. And when you see him flying around in practice, you just know he’s going to do it in the game.”

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  The Pittsburgh Steelers won a game last night because one of their star players followed the career advice in point 7 of The Optimist Creed, “Promise yourself to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future,” and in Tweet 138 in Success Tweets, “We all make mistakes.  Own up to yours.  You’ll become known as a straight shooter, honest with yourself and others.” 

Successful, self confident people realize that mistakes are part of life.  They learn from their mistakes and they build on this knowledge to create their career success.  Owning up to your mistakes is great career advice.  First you have to own up to them privately.  This is the only way to get past them and move forward to career success.  Second, you have to own up to your mistakes publicly.  Admit them to your colleagues and coworkers.  Take responsibility when you let down others.  You’ll build strong relationships by being forthright.

That’s my take on the career advice we can take from last night’s Pittsburgh Steelers win.  What’s yours?  Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading.  If you want a copy of The Optimist Creed that you can frame and hang in your office, just like me, go to


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Michael Byl says:

    Bud: First of all, happy holidays to you and your family. Keep that spirit of the season alive all year as it will serve you well.

    Regarding your post today, one small addition which goes hand-in-hand with your great advice. I always work to forgive myself for mistakes after they happen. One can move forward on instinct following a mistake, primarily because we know it is the right thing to do. However, I find that in order to fully clear the inner self, forgiveness is necessary as well. We are often good at forgiving others, but not so good at forgiving ourselves.

    This is often overlooked in this process of moving forward, but I believe it to be an important piece of the overall puzzle. Thanks again for all of your wisdom throughout the year.

    Cheers, Michael

  2. Michael:
    Forgiving yourself is some great career advice. I agree. It’s usually harder to forgive ourself than it is to forgive others.
    Thanks so much for this very insightful comment.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.