Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

“Be who you are, said the Duchess to Alice, or if you would like it put more simply, never try to be what you might have been or could have been other than what you should have been.”

     – Lewis Carroll (1832 – 1898), children’s fiction writer, most notably of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

The neighborhood knuckleheads just finished our Fantasy Football draft.  I’m projected to finish last.  I will wear it as a badge of honor, thank you.

But, that’s not the point.

As we sat here, at our computers, with a glass of brown or a bottle of beer as our guide — it occurred to me how little we really know about football.

Sure, we’re fans, and we “know” all sorts of things that may or may not be true.  For example, I just know that my favorite team is going to pound their cross-state rival into submission Saturday.  I just know it.  Except, I don’t know crap!

Sort of like when we criticize the boss.  Or the CEO.  Or the surgeon.  Or the airline pilot.  Or the general on the battlefield…  You get the point, right?

Unless we’ve sat in the chair, we simply don’t know.  We.  Simply.  Don’t.  Know.

The movie Draft Day is a wonderfully romanticized version of what it must be like to be an NFL General Manager — in a room with a bunch of other stale, pale and male middle-aged dudes hitching your career wagon to a small group of 22-year-old kids.

Picking talent is hard.

Developing talent is hard, too, but it’s an investment worth making.

Here’s how it works:  Once the team puts on your jersey, it’s your team, and you’ll get out of it something along the lines of what you put into it.  Of course, talent matters.  But if talent was the only thing that mattered, Duke would win every NCAA championship, Alabama would win every BCS Championship and UConn would win the women’s national basketball championship every year.  The Yankees would have won 87 World Series’ in a row and the British would have beat our butts back in the 1700’s.

“Woulda, shoulda and coulda” are the vocabulary of losers.

“I woulda hired Pat if I’d have had the budget!”

“I coulda hired Sal if I’d have altered the PTO policy!”

“I shoulda hired Robin, if only I’d have known then what I know now…”

In business, fantasy football, picking a foursome for the golf match — we simply don’t know.

So, in the moment, we do the best we can.  We teach, we mentor, we listen, we invest in the people on the roster.  We make cuts if we have to, and we pour into every member of the team right up until they ain’t on the team any more — and maybe even beyond that, depending on our wiring…

That’s the stuff of difference makers.


It is not lost upon me that the Fantasy Football analogy is flawed.  I can’t develop my talent, seein’s how I will never meet most of the players on my roster (I’ve met three of them, which is probably why I drafted them, which may be why I am projected to finish last…) and even if I do, they’ll understand pretty quickly that I ain’t no Vincent T. Lombardi.  It’s a set-up to the point.  Play the best game you can every day with the roster you have on that day — and make a difference for the players, fans, families, clients, customers and shareholders you serve.

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