Replacement Refs are Gone; Here’s the Essential Career Advice They Leave Behind

Whew. It’s all over.

After three weeks of pro football, the NFL (and its fans) had seen enough of the replacement refs. The final straw was the last play in Monday night’s game, when the fill-ins mistakenly gave the win to the Seattle Seahawks and confirmed what we had long suspected:

These guys were in over their heads.

Starting tonight with the Ravens-Browns game, the league’s regular officials will be back on the field. Before we say goodbye to the replacements, it’s important to understand how their situation mirrors our own.

There is always a risk in making a giant leap professionally. A bigger role at a company, a fresh start in a new industry or even temp work in a strange place (like these refs in cavernous NFL stadiums). It can all be overwhelming.

What if I don’t know everything? What if I get in the way? What if I make mistakes?

Keep in mind that, until this season, some of these officials had only worked games at the Division III college level.

‘News To Live By’ scoured the Web for the best tips to stay cool and confident when the pressure ratchets up — at any job.

1. Get feedback early and often

You’d like to think the replacement refs are poring over tapes of their games and asking senior officials for critiques. Relying on people you trust for advice is a surefire way to improve. The worst thing you can do is make the same mistake over and over. Then people take drastic measures like create petitions to have you fired.


2. Don’t just ask what — ask why

It’s crucial to understand the context behind the work you’re being asked to do. Don’t take the assignment and blindly go about your business. Find out why the work matters. The task will be more meaningful, and you’ll impress the higher-ups with your inquisitiveness.


3. Stay focused all day, every day

On at least two occasions, NFL players accused the replacement refs of mentioning their fantasy football teams while officiating the game. Where’s the professionalism? In a new work situation, management will be watching, whether you’re a new hire or growing into a leadership role. Show up everyday ready for business, and you’ll win them over.


4. Know what you don’t know

It’s not possible to have everything down pat on day one. Lean on your strengths to get started and push yourself to learn the rest. If only the replacement refs knew the rules on that final play in the Seahawks-Packers game…


5. Ditch the ‘honeymoon’ phase

Maybe you’d prefer to slowly work into a new job and wait for someone to give you marching orders. Far better to show initiative and dive right in looking for ways to contribute. Assume there’s always something else you need to know. Never think you’ve got it all figured out because…

Then this happens.

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Why do you think the NFL struck a deal this week with the regular refs? Pressure from fans? The potential of lost revenue? Corporate sponsors breathing down Commissioner Roger Goodell’s neck? All of the above?

And will you be watching the game tonight?

 Comment below!


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