Boles shares football lessons in Bedding Conference kickoff

It was a daunting assignment. Young Eric Boles, a rookie for the New York Jets, was the “flyer” on the kickoff team. It was his job to race down the field and disrupt the wedge of players the other team threw up to protect the kickoff returner.

But rather than plow into the wedge, Boles raced around it, coming up from behind the runner to make the tackle. There was only one problem: He made the tackle at the 40-yard line rather than the 20-yard line. And the Miami Dolphins had this quarterback named Dan Marino, who calmly led his team down the field for the winning field goal.

Boles shared that story with his audience during his keynote address at the Furniture Today Bedding Conference, held under sunny skies in Bonita Springs, Fla. He said his coach chewed him out for shirking his responsibility on the play. “You are a New York Jet,” he said. “You are a leader. You need to do what needs to be done.”

That keynote address, sponsored by King Koil, kicked off the Bedding Conference on a strong note. Boles, a wide receiver in his National Football League days and now a business consultant with his Game Changers firm, gave us plenty to think about in his high-energy address.

Take that story about his botched assignment. It offers a number of leadership points, as I discovered when I discussed it with conference attendees.

King Koil CEO David Binke, who chatted with Boles about the shifting bedding landscape before the conference started, said it underscores the importance of every player doing his or her job, a discipline he is stressing as he builds a new leadership team at King Koil.

Other listeners drew other teachings.

“That shows the importance of tackling your challenges head on,” one attendee told me. That is, I admit, the literal point of the story: Boles was assigned the tough task of tackling the ball carrier. But there is a figurative point, too: We need to overcome our fears and plow bravely into the challenges that face us.

Building on that theme, Boles said that we all face “wedges” in our lives, and he urged us to run through them. It was an insightful, inspirational address, one that just might make the challenges we face in business seem a little bit easier to tackle.

– David Perry

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