Lessons From a Quarterback: Turn Trials into Triumphs

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Last Friday, my PR firm had the pleasure of hosting speaker, author and former NFL quarterback Jeff Kemp for a team-building discussion on overcoming adversity in work, in personal life and beyond.

I had planned to write a post thanking my friend Jeff for his inspirational words and sharing how looking beyond one’s self to the needs of your team and focusing on the advancement of a strong mission can transform mere work into a meaningful enterprise. But after the tragic events in Paris Friday night, applying Jeff’s message to PR and business in general seems a little too small.

In his book “Facing the Blitz: Three strategies for turning trials into triumphs,” Jeff makes the point that life’s many challenges can be thought of as “blitzes” — coordinated, all-out assaults meant to disarm us and scatter our defenses. How we respond to such attacks determines who we are, and whether we rise or fall. We either collapse under the enemy pressure or adapt our strategy to succeed despite the attack.

As a quarterback, Jeff faced numerous blitzes from opposing teams on the field. But off the field, the “life blitzes” — those unexpected challenges, catastrophic losses and intense tribulations — threaten to destroy far more than a score in a game. To deal with blitzes on the field and off, Jeff offers three strategies for turning crises into opportunities to overcome the attacks, become stronger and ultimately triumph in the face of adversity.

In the post I started writing, I would have made the point that unexpected challenges in the office are best overcome by the team coming together, reanalyzing the best approach for our clients and then redoubling efforts. A similar point can be made about how we approach the threat of terrorism on the global stage.

I don’t think Jeff envisioned his book to be applied to combating global terrorism, but much of his advice can be scaled up to help confront what has become the greatest struggle of our time.

To learn more about Jeff Kemp and his book, visit

Christian Pinkston is the founder and president of Pinkston, Inc.