What young professionals can learn from Richard Sherman

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock – or totally ignore anything related to professional sports – you know the name Richard Sherman. The Seattle Seahawks cornerback has a history of bold talk, as highlighted in a recent piece in the New York Times. Those who know Sherman probably weren’t surprised when he unleashed one of the most memorable post-game interviews in recent memory after making the play that cemented his team’s slot in the big game.

Reactions to Sherman have run the gamut from supportive to downright vile, but a deeper look at the Stanford graduate – and his actions over the past two weeks – reveal some gems for young professionals.

Always back up what you say

In just his third year in the NFL, Sherman often claims to be the best shutdown corner in the game. A look at the stats prove him correct. There’s something to be said for humility, but as the cliché goes, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. You don’t have to go around the office shouting at your co-workers, but you need not be afraid to own your success. Take a victory lap when it’s warranted.

Be a student of the game

The hard work Sherman exhibits on the field is complemented by his work off the field. A true student of the game, Sherman breaks down game film like a seasoned veteran. No matter how good you are (or think you are), the day you stop learning is more or less the day your career starts to end.

On another note, if you think Sherman’s tip that led to the game-ending interception was a lucky move, skip ahead to the 6:50 mark of the video below.

Plan your work, work your plan.

Having a rival is healthy motivator

Had Sherman made the game winning play against any other receiver, the post-game interview probably wouldn’t have been so charged. 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree allegedly tried to start a fight with Sherman at a charity event. According to reports, Sherman vowed to “make a play and embarrass him” after the incident. Having a rival, real or imagined, can push you to new heights and give an extra sense of purpose to your career. Proving people wrong is one of the most satisfying professional victories. But most offices don’t have the culture of the NFL, so be sure to win big – but win with tact when you vanquish a rival.

Plan for tomorrow, today

Sherman holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and is on record saying he wants to be a commentator after his career is over “so I can keep talking.” With the NFL careers being notoriously short, Sherman seems well on his way after having appeared on CNN and MSNBC. If you can map out your career progression and goals early, the giant leap from job-to-job turns into baby steps.

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