The College Football season is coming to an end tonight, with Auburn’s Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and his team taking on Oregon. However, last week it wasn’t Newton making the headlines, but the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy, Andrew Luck from Stanford University.
Luck, a player in his second college year, is obviously one of the most gifted and talented players around. Many think that he should leave Stanford now, two years before the usual four college years are over, move to the NFL and become a professional quarterback instantly. And yes, he would have had all opportunities there, as in this year’s draft he would have probably be battling Cam Newton for the number one spot. So in one year from now he would have been a millionaire and on his way to becoming a superstar. Would have.
Andrew Luck decided no to. In contrast to his head coach Jim Harbaugh, who just left Stanford to coach the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, Luck decided to stay at the university for two more years as he wants to finish his studies in architecture first before moving over to the football pros.
What an unusual position to trade short term business success for education. But Luck knows he will be a pro sooner or later and when he finally will be, going back to lectures is probably not an option.
But what about you? Is it an option for you? Probably not, either. We’re all caught up by our work, by the operational day-to-day activities we have to accomplish, that thinking about education is something most of us won’t do too often. And even though companies talk about the importance of life long learning in their glossy brochures, our priority is to get the job done.
That’s a pity. And it brings me right back to Andrew Luck. He compares his architecture studies to playing quarterback and finds that both are about seeing spaces and using them the best way.
And that’s the point: Luck says that he doesn’t know how much his architecture studies help him in sports, but that he believes it’s definitely a bonus for him.
We are so much focused on what we do that we have neither an idea on how to get that kind of bonus nor the opportunity to do so.
Here’s some encouragement: I want us all to fight for it. Fight with our organizations and – probably more importantly – fight with ourselves to take the time to go for something off the standard track. To educate ourselves continuously. Be that in contact with academia, be that by reading more books, be that by speaking to people different from those at work, in brief: By getting ourselves opposed to different views and influences.
It takes guts, as Andrew Luck’s example shows, but it’ll make you more complete.
The motto of Luck’s university is “Die Luft der Freiheit weht”, German for “The wind of freedom blows”. Let it blow for you. Fight for the freedom for education, for cooperation with universities, for participating in seminars, and most notably for the time to expose yourself to new views and ideas. In many companies there are lots of opportunities, but people don’t use them because they stay on the easy, straight-forward way of just carrying on. Get informed and get into it. Always remember: There are people that would even chose education over an immediate NFL quarterback career.