I’m a huge fan of NFL football. Growing up in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s it was fascinating to watch the “changing of the guard” among the dominate NFL teams—especially the Cowboys, Steelers, and 49ers. Right in the center of all of this was a legendary quarterback battle in San Francisco between Joe Montana and Steve Young. Steve Young gives us an inside look at this era in his autobiography QB: My Life Behind the Spiral.
As a student of leadership, I love reading biographies and autobiographies with an eye toward understanding what goes into the making of a leader: Is it genetics? Temperament? Hard work? Lucky breaks? The answer is a resounding “yes” to all of the above. In the case of Steve Young, his football-playing father played a factor, as well as Steve’s relentless drive to play quarterback in the NFL. His work ethic made his lucky breaks happen.
But what often is missed in the lives of overcoming leaders is the role challenges or limitations play. In Steve’s case, his lifelong battle against anxiety propelled him to many of his exceptional achievements. Steve is quite candid about the pull between his anxiety over failing and his nonstop pursuit of being the absolute best quarterback ever. The source of his anxiety was unknown to him for most of his career, until a counselor finally was able to help Steve both diagnose and address the underlying causes. It was after this discovery that Steve could finally find a place of satisfaction in his football pursuits.
QB is a very enjoyable read for football fans and students of leadership, but I think those who grew up watching these epic battles on the football field at such a pivotal time in the NFL’s history will really appreciate this front-row view from Steve Young.