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Culture and Leadership | DEI | Growth Mindset

“All of the Sudden You’re on the Outside”: How a Job Switch Can Rock Your Identity

The exit of the tunnel with at the end, a symbol of hope.

Any type of job transition is hard, but particularly one in which your identity is so tied up in what you do. That’s what Eric Hipple, a former NFL quarterback for the Detroit Lions, found as he navigated life after pro football.

Since leaving the NFL, and having a few rough transitions of his own, Hipple has dedicated his career to supporting and advocating for those struggling with change. He shared some insights with us about the power of a growth mindset in turning a rough transition into a smooth transformation.

 

Transcript


Football Announcer:

First and 18, and Eric on the rollout.

Narrator:

Eric Hipple is a former quarterback who spent ten years in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. In 1989, without notice, he was cut from the team. Overnight, he went from being a world-renowned athlete to unemployed. We sat down with Eric to understand what he learned about unexpected transitions. What was the transition like?

Eric Hipple:

You’re literally there one day and you said, okay, the next day you go in, and they said, okay, your services aren’t required anymore, and then you’re on the outside. And not only are you on the outside, you watch what you were, a new team, or the team continue on without you. And that’s painful. I think that’s the hardest part, is that all of a sudden, now you’re on the outside, and who do you do? And in some cases, you still have that fixed identity from the outside, people see you as a football player, but you’re not a football player anymore.

Narrator:

The need to belong is so strong. How did that change for you?

Eric Hipple:

The first thing that happens when you are removed from a group or rejected is, the human need to belong is really strong that you try and do anything you can to reengage back into that group. There are scans that show that when that happens, it’s so painful that it shows up in scans, in the same place that physical pain shows up.

Narrator:

What can others learn from your transition from football?

Eric Hipple:

It requires new ways to think about things. And so maybe I have to break away from some of the old thought patterns that I had so I can actually have a new hope and a new possibility that I can see. We have a tendency when we’re negative, we really focus in a little tight tunnel, right? And so all my thoughts are inward, and when I’m thinking that way, in the negative thought patterns, I can’t see any possibilities that’s out there.

Narrator:

What’s one thing that can help us grow when we’re in the midst of change?

Eric Hipple:

I think the focus 100% has to be on transformation, not transition. And I know that there’s really no distinction between those two words, but there is. I mean, transformation means I am doing something, I’m transforming myself, as opposed to, I have to change into something and I don’t know what it is.

Narrator:

So is the key to transition believing you can transform?

Eric Hipple:

There could be also just understanding it and recognizing the adversity, and so here’s my adversity game plan that I’ve got, how to move through adversity. If I at least have those skills that I’ve recognized that sort of come to me at one point in time, when it does happen, you’re able to say, oh, this is what they’re talking about, and you recognize it and you’re able to apply them, those transformational skills or growth mindset skills.


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