Leadership / Adversity

Leadership Moment — 12 Aug 21

What are you going to do when you get knocked on your backside?

Mark McMillion
2 min readAug 13, 2021


Football is an interesting sport for a variety of reasons, but one of the things I like most about it is that it can be . . . uncomfortable.

It was true forty years ago and it’s true today. At the beginning of the season, there’s always a couple of boys talking about how much they’re looking forward to “really laying a hit on somebody!” Some of them mean it when they say it, some of them are trying to convince themselves it’s true, and most of them have no idea what they’re talking about.

In football, even when you deliver a “monster hit,” it usually hurts you just about as much as it does the other guy. It’s the easiest thing in the world to talk about how much you relish contact during preseason drills without pads. The thing is, you’re going to take a lick too. Everyone does. Sooner or later, everyone gets walloped. That’s the moment when you figure out who’s a player and who’s a poser.

The player gets up, buckles his chinstrap, and lines up for the next play. The poser lays there, waits for the trainer or coach to come check on them, and then slowly limps off the field. And they’re usually done.

Of course sometimes the player is injured and that’s different. But even hurt, players want to play.

Everyone wants to lead when things are going smoothly. That’s the easy part. Just like boys on a football team who “really want to hit someone” in the preseason, leaders coast during the good times. As with football, contact is coming. So what do you do when that linebacker fills the hole in the line and smacks you? Are you going to get up and yell at your linemen? Are you going to cuss the play caller? Or are you going to jump up, get back in the huddle and figure out how to get to the end zone?

Leaders lead during a crisis.

That was my leadership moment today.



Mark McMillion

Retired Army officer with two tours in Baghdad, married with four kids. Proud West Virginian and West Point grad. Works available on Amazon.