Jan 3, 2017 by Edward L. Blach, DVM, MS, MBA
I was reminded this week when reading about the retirement of Coach Gary Kubiak of the Denver Broncos that business is a lot like sports. Coach Kubiak has been a great leader and teammate over the last 30+ years, dating back to when he arrived at the Broncos in 1983 from Texas A&M as a late round quarterback draftee to the Broncos squad. He didn't figure to play much as the Broncos also acquired Hall of Famer John Elway from the Indianapolis Colts in the same draft. The two of them have been almost inseparable ever since. For nine years, Kubiak served as Elway's backup quarterback, a job he did very well. He was always prepared and a student of the game.
Upon retiring from playing football, it was only a short time later when Kubiak became the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos, and his quarterback was John Elway. After two Super Bowl wins, Kubiak eventually became head coach of the Houston Texans and in 2015, he became the head coach of the Denver Broncos, where his close friend, John Elway was and is the General Management in charge of all football operations. Together, in 2016, they won another Super Bowl, with Peyton Manning, another great leader as their quarterback.
Coach Kubiak's example in sport reminded me that veterinary medicine is a small world, similar to sports. We are fortunate to develop lifelong relationships with colleagues and mentors who are able to be our teammates in numerous capacities over a career to help each other accomplish some great objectives. Coach Kubiak's players talked about how he always took care of them. Often, he would take the blame for losses rather than blaming his players, always saying that he needed to do more. Players lauded his selfless leadership style to the end, even when he was retiring, he wouldn't talk about it on his last game day, because he didn't want to focus on himself, but instead believed game day should focus on the team.
One other aspect of Coach Kubiak's story that reminded me of veterinary medicine was the fact that he retired due to health issues that had made it impossible for him to perform at a level that he demanded of himself. He talked about having a routine and that he couldn't coach any other way. After several health scares, he resigned himself to retirement. Veterinary medicine can be similar. I know many colleagues who work an inordinant amount of hours every year without taking proper care of themselves. Their health suffers and some have even arrived at their death as a result. Just like sports, we all need to keep in perspective the impact that our work has on our health, and make sure that you make time each day to take care of you!
Teams in veterinary medicine are very similar to sports. Leaders in veterinary medicine are very similar to leaders in sports. And our work ethic and our work schedules can take a toll, similar to the toll taken on Coach Kubiak.
Remember, business is like sport. Learn the lessons. Take care of yourself.