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How To Use The Chip On Your Shoulder To Drive Greatness: Learn A Lesson From Josh Rosen

How To Use The Chip On Your Shoulder To Drive Greatness: Learn A Lesson From Josh Rosen

Hanging on the edge of my computer screen is a newspaper clipping from 23 years ago written by a newspaper in Las Vegas. The article isn’t flattering. These days, it hangs there as a reminder that things weren’t always as good or positive as they are now. It reminds me to stay vigilant and always remember that I have something to prove. It’s kept me sharp.

In the beginning though, that negative review was a big chip on my shoulder that I used as fuel to propel me forward, to energize me. My guess is that most of you have some sort of chip like that in your background. How you use it says much about you.

Josh Rosen has a chip on his shoulder too, and after last weekend we all know about it. Rosen was the 10th pick in last weekend’s NFL Draft. He was selected by the Arizona Cardinals, who traded up to get him, hoping he can replace the retiring Carson Palmer. The media speculation at the outset of the Draft was that Rosen was a top-tier quarterback and would get chosen in the top five, if not the top three. That didn’t happen. In fact, he wasn’t just the tenth player chosen, he was the fourth quarterback selected.

Rosen, in his own words, was “pissed.”

“I thought I should’ve been picked at 1, 2 or 3,” Rosen said. “I dropped, and I was pissed. I was really, really angry. I wasn’t really showing it. I was trying to keep calm, cool, composed.”

He was “really happy and really motivated” when the Cardinals called, informing him of their selection, but the chip was already heavy on his shoulder. He went on the record saying that there were “nine mistakes” made by the other teams and he’s going to spend the next decade making sure those teams know they made a mistake.


I have two reactions here.

First, I think that anyone who has a passion for what they do and a deep desire to achieve has to maintain a big chip on their shoulder. In fact, it’s as important as regular physical conditioning in the development of true success.

Every single great player I know can point to one of these moments. Michael Jordan was cut from the Laney High School varsity basketball team. Tom Brady wasn’t selected until the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, 199th overall, and it still haunted him even after winning multiple Super Bowl rings. These were pivotal moments in these great players’ lives.

This leads to my second reaction; most great competitors don’t declare they have a chip from the beginning. Jordan didn’t walk up to Coach Clifton Hearing at Laney and tell him he’d regret not putting him on the team. Brady didn’t publicly declare that every other NFL franchise had made a big mistake and would pay for it someday (though many have regretted not picking him in hindsight). These great competitors used their chips as internal fuel to fire their incredible success. They didn’t need to share it with the world…at least at first. As success came their way, those “driver” moments became a more regular piece of their narrative.

But they didn’t do it as a rookie!

Josh Rosen did, and now he’s set himself up for potential embarrassment or worse. He’s declaring something that he doesn’t need to say. During the coming seasons, when he plays one of those teams he just called out, he has to win. If he doesn’t, because of his public declarations, he’ll be demoralized, laughed at by fans, the media, and the public.

The best motivation is kept internally. If you let it out and share your frustration with the world, you end up fueling your critics instead of yourself. When I saw the negative review by the Las Vegas newspaper, I didn’t call up the editor and tell him he would regret ever saying those words. Later, when I made the NYT bestseller’s list, I didn’t package up my books and mail it to the editor.

Instead, I used that event as fuel to drive me. And silly as it may sound, I still do.

Why did Michael Jordan hold on to that moment of being cut, even into completing his Hall of Fame career? Because that chip motivated him and drove him to greatness.

We will all suffer setbacks. If you get rejected for a job after the interview are you going to hop on social media and declare that the company that wouldn’t hire you is going to regret it? No, of course not. Instead, use that experience as fuel to motivate you, just you.

The question is this: When you suffer a setback, what do you do with that experience? Do you make it about the people who rejected you or do you use it to fuel the fire on your way to greatness?

That chip on your shoulder is absolutely necessary if you want to be successful. Just make sure it serves as a log on your fire.

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About Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, 11-time New York Times best-selling author, leadership expert and executive coach.

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