3 Career Lessons You Should Learn From Russell Wilson


Photo by WEBN-TV

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Living just outside of Madison, Wisconsin, I first saw Russell Wilson play for the Wisconsin Badgers. It was instantly clear that he was a special player. But there’s a light-year’s worth of difference between college and pro ball. Who knew just how good Wilson would be in the NFL? In his first three seasons in the league, Wilson led the Seattle Seahawks to the playoffs every year, which resulted in two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl victory. Not a bad way to kick off an NFL career.

Wilson’s original contract with the Seahawks locked him in Seattle for four years. But last Friday, Wilson signed a contract extension with the Seahawks which keeps him in Seattle through the 2019 season. The new contract is worth a whopping $87.6 million and includes a $31 million signing bonus.

Wilson’s comment regarding his new contract?

“For me, I just want to be paid based on what I’m worth, what I’ve produced, whatever that means. For me, I just let the play speak for itself.” -Russell Wilson

I told you he was a special player.

Three Career Lessons You Should Learn From Russell Wilson

Given the popularity of the NFL, Russell Wilson was able to leverage the value he creates for his employer – the Seattle Seahawks – to secure a contract worth more money than most of us can even comprehend. But we can all learn three valuable lessons from Wilson as we work to advance our careers.

1. Lose any sense of entitlement

The 2015 season will be the first time Russell Wilson earns more than $1 million as an NFL quarterback. According to Spotrac.com, Wilson earned between $544,000 and $817,000 in his first three seasons. That’s nothing to shake a stick at, but the Seahawks were getting a heck of a deal based on the value Wilson created for their franchise during that same time period. If anyone has the right to feel entitled to more money, Wilson is it.

Yet Wilson’s attitude about his new contract is the opposite of entitlement. Wilson only asks to be “paid based on what [he’s] worth” in the marketplace. He doesn’t complain about the great deal Seattle got for the past three years, but instead seeks compensation based only on the value he now provides to the Seahawks franchise. It’s not about what he’s done in the past, but rather what he’s capable of doing in the future. The size of his new contract indicates that Wilson is capable of achieving some amazing feats in the years ahead.

Adopt Wilson’s attitude about compensation. Rid yourself of any sense of entitlement based on your past accomplishments. Focus on the value you’re capable of providing in the future and you’re sure to advance your career in wonderful ways.

2. If you want to earn more money, become worth more in the marketplace.

Russell Wilson has worked hard to increase his value in the marketplace, and his hard work has literally paid off. Do you think Wilson could have landed his new monster contract without leading the Seahawks on such impressive post-season runs? Surely not. The only reason Wilson was able to secure his new contract was because he has worked hard to become extraordinarily valuable in the NFL marketplace. Other teams would love to sign him – so Seattle needed to crack open their wallet in a big way to keep Wilson in a Seahawks uniform.

The same rule applies to you and me. Despite what the economically ignorant may chant, the simple act of breathing does not make you worth $15 per hour in the marketplace. You will be paid more in the marketplace only after you become worth more in the marketplace. So exercise personal initiative in your life. Try new things, learn new skills, gain valuable experience. Maybe that means you go back to school to further your education, maybe you secure an internship, or maybe you just put yourself through YouTube University. Whatever your path, recognize that you are the only one who can make yourself more valuable in the marketplace.

You will be paid more in the marketplace only after you become worth more in the marketplace. Click To Tweet
3. Love what you do

There’s no doubt that Russell Wilson loves his job as an NFL quarterback. If you follow him online at all, you see that he posts stuff every day about training and sharpening his championship mindset. He doesn’t do all of that work because he has to, but rather because he loves to. Wilson is living his pursuit of happiness on a daily basis. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s achieving such great success.

Enjoying your profession is critical to your success, because you can’t fake passion. And while we can’t all be professional football players, I’m convinced that we all can find a career we love if we’re willing to put in the effort. If you want some great ideas to help you do exactly that, I highly recommend you check out Start by Jon Acuff.

Enjoying your profession is critical to your success, because you can't fake passion. Click To Tweet

Genius IQ-uarterback

Russell Wilson doesn’t boast about his successes, but rather works hard every day to increase his value as an NFL quarterback. Clearly, he’s doing something right. Whether he knows it or not, Wilson is following the principle of a quote attributed to Albert Einstein, who said “Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value.” That’s one more lesson we should all take to heart.


How are you increasing your value in the marketplace today? How has your career advanced after you tried new things, learned new skills, and gained valuable experiences? Is anybody else still a pretty bitter about that 2014 NFC Championship game?

Ross Brown on EmailRoss Brown on FacebookRoss Brown on Twitter
Ross Brown
President at LTP
I'm a 2007 Luther College grad trying to make the most out of every day. I enjoy spending time with my family, charcoal grilling, downhill skiing, double IPAs, fine scotch, going to church, jogging, Texas Holdem, fishing, reading, and watching the Green Bay Packers dominate the NFL.

I'm passionate about passion. Whatever you're passionate about, go do it!