You’re FIRED! Locker Cleanout

Photo cred: JBerridge
Photo cred: JBerridge via Atlanta Falcons

I’ve been reflecting on this past year and what the future will bring. #BlackMonday claimed our Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith and left him clearing out his locker. Whether you follow football or not, the story of Mike Smith makes me think “What’s in our lockers when we clean them out?”

A little background for those who do not know what Mike Smith walked into when he started at the Falcons seven years ago. Back in 2007 Michael Vick was the starting quarterback and Arthur Blank the owner of the Atlanta Flacons hired Bobby Petrino to take Vick to the next level. You may recall that Vick was then incarcerated for dog fighting and Petrino snuck out at dark leaving the Falcons high-and-dry after only 13 games.

Smitty walked into a front office and locker room that was a hot mess. Blank made the right moves by hiring Thomas Dimitroff and Smitty then they drafted Matt Ryan as starting quarterback and off they went with a entire new team. They broke a curse of losing seasons dating back to 1966 with this new team and Smitty began his road to filling his locker.

So as I watched Mr. Blank’s press conference on Monday I began to think of the things that Smitty was packing into boxes. One would typically think of framed pictures of his wife and daughter, a plaque or two, desk pen, coffee mugs etc. But in actuality what I think Smitty packed up was much more than those physical things.

Mr. Blank said when he met with Smitty that their conversation was private and he wouldn’t share that with us, but he said he would share “that Smitty said he loved me, and I said the same.” I’m not sure if the media tracks these types of stats but how many times has an head coach been fired and the owner said that he loved him and that he will always be part of the family? LOVE was packed into his box that day.

Matt Ryan took to Instagram: “Certainly a disappointing year, but I can’t thank Mike Smith enough for all he has done the last seven seasons. He has been a great coach for our organization and for me personally. I am forever grateful for our time together.”Photo cred: Matt Ryan

Photo cred: Matt Ryan

There were other players that took to Twitter to say the same thing, how much they enjoyed working with him, how much fun he was, and what they learned from him. Smitty then packed up LEADERSHIP in his box of trinkets.

My Twitter feed on Monday was full to the rim with fan outpouring of thanks to Mike Smith. The Falcons ended the season with a 6-10 record and a crushing home loss to the Carolina Panthers for the NFC South title. Yet despite two awful seasons and a few bad (really bad) head coach calls; the fan the hardcore fans who complain about everything posted how much they really appreciated Smitty and wish all the best for him. In goes RESPECT to the box Smitty’s packing.

As a new year approaches and my career like many of yours is always in the midst of change and uncertainty, I know that I’m no NFL head coach or Fortune 500 executive but I do have desires to build my locker with some noteworthy items. We may receive requests from colleagues for hiring recommendations or hear that an old co-worker said how great it was to work with us. These may be small ways that we too are filling up our locker.

The true test is when you move on to another chapter and continue to build up your locker, reinforcing your work ethic and a point worth noting, our career is not who we are its what we do for financial support of ourselves and family. I take a hardline that HOW we do our jobs is who we are and thus worth the mention and effort.

My daughter while working met an old colleague of mine going back over ten years ago. He mentioned what he did and that lead the conversation to me and that we must have crossed paths. He did in fact remember me and told her that “she is really good at what she does”. This incredibly easy and small comment speaks volumes in my eyes. First it reminds me that I’ve always worked hard and have been passionate about my career. Second it shows my daughter that hard work pays off and she has a mother that makes her proud. Things for her to inspire, to reach, knowing that her mother walks-the-walk.

Now we might not all have high-level or influential careers that warrant press conference and Twitter feeds of thanks but we can only hope to continue building up our lockers with even half of what Smitty put in his box.

Coach hold your head high, capture your next chapter and remember you are part of our family.

Cheers and Happy New Years!

PS: Darrell I’ve known you and your family for many years, lots of love and no shade but you may have jinxed us…..”#Falcons looking to add to their banners on Sunday.”

Photo cred: D. Orlando Ledbetter -AJC
Photo cred: D. Orlando Ledbetter -AJC

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