On October 15, 2012, the headline article on NFL.com read: “Ray Lewis out for Ravens’ season with tricep tear.”
The medical experts and team doctors unequivocally stated that Lewis was incapable of returning at any point that season. He had torn his tricep at the insertion of the bone and was unable to fully extend his left arm. Within weeks of being placed on Injured Reserve, rumours of a possible retirement began to circulate through the league.
This should’ve been the end of the Ray Lewis Story. A 37-year-old man, who spent 17 years playing professional football suffers a serious injury to his left arm. It would be understandable if Lewis didn’t return to complete the season.
But the Ray Lewis Story is unlike any other.
Eleven weeks after suffering the injury, Ray Lewis returned sporting a brace on his left arm. Nothing was going to stop Lewis from competing, especially when his team was heading into the post-season.
“I can’t rest because this is based on a lifestyle. I taught my kids that. If you start something, finish it.” — Ray Lewis
That happened to be Ray Lewis’ final year. It also happened to be the year his team advanced to and won the Superbowl.
Lewis is the paragon of a NFL linebacker: tough, durable, intelligent and a master tactician. In his seventeen year career — all with one team, the Baltimore Ravens — Lewis won two Superbowls, a Superbowl MVP award and was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
But it isn’t the physical attributes that have led Lewis to his football success. It’s his rhetoric that inspired and motivated his peers and made him the backbone of the Baltimore Raven’s defence.
Football is more than just a team sport. Athletes rely on one another to ensure their well-being. Excellent defensive units operate like pit crews in a Formula 1 race. Each person has a specific responsibility and if one person fails to complete their assignment, the entire unit fails.
As the leader of the Balitmore Raven’s defence for 17 years, it was Lewis’ responsibility to ensure each player was focused and ready to fight with the unit.
Before every game, Lewis would deliver a series of impromptu motivational speeches to rally his teammates around a single cause:
“Most of the time what I share is real life experiences. The game will fade. We won’t keep up with the game. But what we go through as men will last a lifetime. Sometimes, when you’re in the course of the season, the next game is just the next game.” — Ray Lewis
Motivating employees should be an integral part of any managers’ duties, but only 16% of Canadians say they are engaged at work, according to a 2013 study published by Gullup.com.
While donning a helmet and shoulder pads and yelling at your employees like Ray Lewis may not work for the office, you can still be inspired by the way he rallied his team to victory.
Lead by example. Connect with your employees by sharing your own experiences about how you overcame obstacles to accomplish a goal. When you have a motivated team, productivity is increased, creativity is unleashed, and everybody wins.
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