Andrew Luck retired over the weekend. The former #1 overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft hung up his cleats before the season officially began and the news of his decision sent ripples through sports media, talk shows and the Internet. After all, he’s one the best quarterbacks in the NFL and he’s only 29 years old. He was supposed to have 10 years left to play the game at the highest level, but injuries had taken a toll on his body over the years and he realized he had enough. He couldn’t continue to subject his body and mind to the torture; therefore, his only option was to walk away from the game.
But Andrew Luck’s decision to retire isn’t the interesting piece of the story – or even the part of story which matters for you the most. The interesting and important part transpired the moment the world found out about his decision.
Andrew Luck was on the sidelines of his team’s NFL preseason game when news broke. By the time the game was over and Andrew made his way to the locker room tunnel, the crowd had become aware of his decision– and they were upset. As he walked off, the fans booed. Instead of cheering a man who made the decision to value his health over money (and lots of it), the fans booed. They booed hard. And loud. Afterwards in the official press conference to announce his retirement, Andrew admitted the fan’s initial reaction hurt.
In Andrew Lucks’ case, he gave everything he had to the Indianapolis Colts and their fans. He played through injuries to try and win games despite the effect it was having on his body and his future health. He stayed loyal to Indianapolis when other teams were offering more money or opportunities to play for teams in warmer locations or with better tax advantages. He gave them everything. And in that moment, it wasn’t enough. It seemed, almost immediately, they had already moved on.
“You’re either with us or against us.”
While the reaction from the fans was unnecessary and uncalled for, their reaction can also serve as a wake-up call for a lot of people in today’s world. More specifically, there are thousands of people going into work today to a job they don’t love. They might be doing it for a multitude of reasons (money, stability, etc.) but some of them are doing it because they think they owe it to someone else. Or worse, they think they owe it to the organization. In their mind, the organization would miss them if they were gone and they tell themselves it’s a selfish decision. They’re better off staying in misery than doing something which makes them happy.
If you’ve ever had those same thoughts, Andrew Lucks’ retirement can teach us how quickly people and organizations will move on. The initial shock might not bring out the best in everyone around you, but over time people will appreciate your desire to find your own version of happiness or health. If your work is getting in the way of finding either of those, stop trying to “prove it” to others by staying somewhere where you can’t accomplish happiness and health.
The hard truth is the moment you’re gone – from that organization, that boss, or whatever – they’ll start the process of moving on without you. In some cases, they might boo you on the way out. (I certainly hope that doesn’t happen, but apparently grown adults are still capable of acting like children at times.) What’s more likely to happen is the people close to you will be excited and happy for you. They’ll support you. They’ll miss you. And then they’ll start the process of trying to move on with you. Let this be your wake-up call to choose happiness and health today. In the long run, it’s the right decision and the only decision you need to make.