Not long ago Betsy and I were watching an NFL game and cringed as a rookie quarterback made one mistake after another. We really liked the guy and hoped beyond hope he’d have a great outing. To be fair, he had a terrible offensive line that couldn’t protect him and he was constantly being roughed up or sacked. After two and a half quarters of not being able to get anything done, he began to do what a lot of us do in those situations, he began to try to make too much happen. And as such, he threw the ball into traffic or attempted to save a few yards by acting like a running back. The result, an interception and a fumble.
One of the marks of a really great quarterback is they know when to lose the battle in order to win the war. In other words, they know how to take a sack. And even if it might cost them the game, taking a sack doesn’t make them look bad and likely won’t cost them their job, while fumbling or throwing an interception might.
Okay, sports analogy over. I only bring this up because just the other night I realized how amazing my sweetheart was at taking a sack. I realized it because we were dealing with a tough situation in which both of us were convinced somebody had been dishonest with us and might even be ripping us off. The damage would have been minimal, but we approached the situation differently. And I hate to admit it, but she approached the situation like a pro, seasoned quarterback and I approached it like a rookie.
When we realized what was happening, I picked up my phone to call the guy. I was going to confront him and get to the bottom of it. Betsy, however, calmly explained she’d like to wait. She said in 24 hours we’d be able to think more clearly and not only that but in the morning we could make a couple calls and verify whether or not we had indeed been ripped off. I knew immediately she was right. There was no reason for us to try to “make something happen” right away. Betsy decided to take the sack, as it were. The next play would bring more clarity and afford us some time.
In the morning, we made a couple calls and quickly realized we’d not been ripped off at all. The guy was completely innocent.
Can you imagine how bad it would have been if I’d called and bullied an answer out of the guy in question? He would have felt accused. He would have been deeply offended. And my reputation, at least with him, would have been mud when he was finally proven innocent.
My heavens I’m thankful for Betsy.
The good thing that came out of that whole exchange was Betsy and I were able to have a great talk and together decided we wanted to be a couple that takes the occasional sack. That will be much easier for her than for me, as I’m wired to “make something happen” fast. But I’m learning. I want to go pro on this one.
For me, taking the sack means:
• Waiting until I’m clear headed before making a decision. Even if it might cost me something, I don’t want to overreact to the drama of the moment.
• Living by a set of core convictions. This means regardless of the emotional context, there are things I won’t do. I won’t tell lies, I won’t exaggerate, I won’t speak from intense emotion, I will listen before I talk. Easier said than done, for sure. But I want to have these convictions written down and I want to abide by them.
• I want to enjoy taking the sack. I used to hate taking a loss, even if it were just a few yards. But these days I’m realizing there is wisdom to tucking the ball into my chest and hitting the ground. Sure I may lose an argument or a few dollars of maybe be a little embarrassed, but none of that is as bad as fumbling the ball and sitting the bench.
Hope this helps. This paradigm shift has certainly helped me and it feels like wisdom. No more rookie mistakes.