A Modest Suggestion for Peyton Manning When He Retires (at, probably, the age of 75) – Become the Health Care Drill Instruction Czar


It’s sort of hard to miss the big news of the last few days.

News item #1 — Hospital health care personnel were not “ready” for the Ebola crisis to arrive.

News item #2 — Peyton Manning threw for four touchdowns, and broke the all-time touchdown passing record.

Both, pretty big news items.

So, I got to thinking…

Do you know what Peyton Manning is really good at? Here it is. He is really good at “drilling until he gets it just right.”

In Outliers, and Talent is Overrated, we learn a lot about the 10,000 hour rule, and the idea of “deliberate practice — practicing for the purpose of, with the intent of, getting better.” Such practice requires drills – going over and over and over an action time and time again until one gets it right. And, someone is watching, and correcting every little misstep along the way, so that each practice action is closer and closer to perfect.

Peyton Manning is really good at deliberate practice. It is work ethic, yes – but it is also mastering the skill of drilling for the purpose of getting better.

There have probably been other athletes who have worked as hard as Peyton Manning. But not many. And, probably, none have worked any smarter… Here is what a defensive back and a columnist had to say, from Broncos QB Peyton Manning works “as if he never had a penny” by Benjamin Hochman:

Rahim Moore talked about Manning having some fun in his off time, but that “we know when he gets on the field, he’s going hard — like as if he never had a penny. That’s how hard he works. You would think he never had done a commercial, none of that. He’s training like he’s a free agent.”

Let it sink in. What a quote, right? Peyton Manning, one of the best talents of his generation, attacks practice as if his career is on the line, as if one bad day at the office and he’s coaching high school, telling stories about once going to an NFL camp with Peyton Manning.

Peyton Manning running drillsSo, let’s say that I’m right. Peyton Manning is the best ever at getting better at what he does by drilling over and over again.

And, let’s pay attention to the other news. Health Care workers have to drill, over and over again, to learn how to flawlessly put on and take off protective clothing. Atul Gawande has written, in The Checklist Manifesto and other places, about the importance of getting things just right when it comes to health care. One slip up, and the patient can literally catch a more life-threatening illness while receiving treatment for something else.

As much as I like football, I think health care workers need to learn to run drills at least as well as football players do. The stakes are a little higher!

So, my suggestion – after his retirement (at about age 75, it looks like), Peyton Manning needs to become the health-care drill instruction czar.

That’s my modest proposal. And, really, I’m not quite kidding – I suspect that Peyton Manning could watch film of people drilling to put on the protective attire, and recommend specific improvements in how they run those drills. And if he could not quite do so right now, with his attention to detail and his work ethic, he could improve those drills pretty quickly…

(Or… to put it another way, maybe health care workers need to study drill techniques from Peyton Manning. It turns out there are a few videos available to watch)…

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