Former NFL player Matt Birk gives life lessons in new book
Former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Matt Birk has had his fair share of career ups and downs. He had to sit out the entire 2005 season due to a hip injury and thought his football career was over long before it actually was. But he’s also a Super Bowl champ, having won in 2012 when playing for the Baltimore Ravens. Though Birk says he never defined himself by his football career, the sport taught him a lot of important life lessons, enough to fill a book, which is why he teamed up with leading business expert Rich Chapman to write, “All-Pro Wisdom: The 7 Choices That Lead To Greatness.”
“Greatness isn’t about achievements. It’s not about winning the Super Bowl, being a CEO or any of that stuff. It’s about being the greatest version of yourself,” Birk tells us. The book introduces seven qualities every person needs to reach his or her full potential, including passion, confidence, stability and focus, with tips on how to develop each quality. Birk explains how football is a great foundation for developing these traits and includes interviews with several superstar NFL players who embody them.
“One thing that surprised me right away about the NFL was how great of men were in the NFL; not great players, but great men,” Birk says. “We didn’t tell these guys what we would be asking them for the book, and when we asked [Green Bay Packer quarterback] Aaron Rodgers about character, without batting an eyelash he said, ‘I think it’s about being consistent. I think it’s about being a great leader.’”
Birk says his hip injury in 2005 was a good reminder to him of the danger of defining yourself by your career, a lesson he thinks everyone can learn from. “Anyone can lose their job. Jobs are very temporary. But some people lose their job, start another career and turn around and say, ‘Boy, losing my job was the best thing to ever happen to me.’ And those tend to be people whose identity isn’t wrapped up in what they do.”
Conversely, Birk’s career highlight – winning the Super Bowl in 2012 with the Baltimore Ravens – taught him another life lesson he includes in the book. “Everybody says they want to win the Super Bowl, but what are you going to do with the other 364 days of the year to make it happen? I think it’s in the goal setting and dividing it into small, actionable steps so it’s actually achievable.”
The book has been out for about two weeks and Birk says what’s been most rewarding is hearing how parents have used it to teach their kids about the importance of character and setting goals in a way that isn’t forced or boring. “Three different dads told me that every week, they grab a burger with their son and talk about a chapter. I’m a parent; I have six kids and I know how hard parenting is. Each day you feel like you’re falling short. To be able to provide parents with a useful tool has been very fulfilling,” he says. Just one of the ‘great’ reasons to check it out.
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