Victim, Survivor, or Navigator: Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles

by Edward Henkler on January 21, 2014

As the Philadelphia Eagles conclude one of the more entertaining football seasons in Philadelphia history, I’m reminded of Dr. Rick McKnight’s book entitled “Victim, Survivor, or Navigator”.  See earlier posts on Intentional Career Management and Unhappily Employed.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Chip Kelly, he rose meteorically through the college football coaching ranks to become the head coach of the Eagles in 2013.  His unique approach combines sports science, up-tempo football, and a variety of other innovations.  The specifics are unimportant to this post but the fallout is what reminded me of Rick’s book.  You can divide the players into three categories.  The first group didn’t have a chance and were released at the outset.  A second group was perfect for the new scheme, whether they were already members of the team or specifically recruited.  The third group wasn’t perfect but chose to adapt and subsequently thrive.  These three groups may not perfectly align with Rick’s categories but one thing is clear.  The third group chose to practice intentional career management.  They are also navigators.  They perceived a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow, and intentionally chose to become part of a grand new experiment.  None of them regret that choice.

Chip Kelly

When I was with Merck, I thought I was flexible and adaptable but as I look in the rear view mirror, I realize that two significant careers in the Navy and at Merck may have made me a bit complacent.  This is not to suggest that I was unwilling to work hard, only that I may have been a bit too comfortable with maintaining the status quo.  No regrets are implied but in the years since leaving Merck, people say I’ve changed rather dramatically.  I’ve become a passionate networker, am involved with a number of startups and entrepreneurial ventures, and am even flexing my business development wings.  The change is refreshing and career transition has added so much depth and meaning to my life.

Think about your own career or life.  Have you become a bit too comfortable?  Avoid the victim and survivor categories.  Take charge and actively navigate your career and life!

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