When That Chip Becomes a Boulder

Expect a lot of football chatter this week leading up the NFL draft on Thursday. Will the Jets take Baker Mayfield with the 3rd pick? What an amazing underdog story—from “walk on” to one of the most decorated college football players in history.

I was half listening to a debate on ESPN about Mayfield when something caught my attention. One analyst said the Jets should steer clear of him because Mayfield carries a “boulder on his shoulder.” Another claimed that Mayfield’s greatest strength is his “massive chip on his shoulder.”

This made me think about something I’ve wrestled with throughout my career—when does a chip become a boulder?

I think a healthy chip is essential to succeed in highly competitive arenas like sports, entertainment and business. In sales, a profession filled with rejection, it makes you harder to knock down. Every successful person I know has something to prove. It comes from being told some version of “you can’t, because you’re not__________________.”

As the youngest of three boys, my chip appeared early in life. My oldest brother was much smarter than I was, while the other was far bigger and stronger.

The key is to use your chip to propel you—while being mindful of keeping it in check. If it grows too big, the chip will eventually topple you over. I’ve become aware that mine is becoming a boulder when people around me shut down. It’s my signal that I’ve stopped listening to their advice.

I asked that older, smarter brother the question above. Dr. Anthony Donato said, “A chip becomes a boulder when carrying it becomes more important than lifting the group.” As expected, a wise response.

What do you think?