Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them

Bruce Lee

Wow, it’s Colin Kaepernick at McDonald’s. This is CRAZY!

I’m going to say it: I was a San Francisco 49ers fan. It started when one of my closest friends invited me to his house to watch football. Up until this time I was more of a baseball fan and knew little about the game.

Well, I remember watching the game with my Grandad when I would visit him in Yuma, but when longtime Coach Tom Landry was unceremoniously fired by the Dallas Cowboys, Granddad didn’t care to watch as much. Anyway, Dallas was always battling the 49ers and it was the 1980’s, so they were winning big.

I want to say, strictly speaking, that this post is not about the team or football. No, this post is about mistakes, about actions and causality. It just happens that the person I’m going to discuss used to be the 49ers quarterback, and his nonsensical actions cost him, more than likely, a spot on any team in the National Football League.

As Colin Kaepernick learned, actions have consequences

Whether you are into football or not, I’m pretty sure you have heard of Colin Kaepernick and how he refused to stand for the National Anthem. No, I’m not going there either. What I want to discuss are the primary actions that he took and the consequences he is now facing.

Colin Kaepernick decided one day to not stand for the National Anthem. I’m OK with that, and there is no law that says you have to stand, remove your cap (or helmet) and put your hand on your chest, ever. It’s what we do out of respect for our nation, our military, and our freedom.

He decided not to stand because of his feeling of social injustice for African Americans in the USA, although he later changed it to all people of color. He’s politically correct like that.

The controversial move got him what he wanted, which was media coverage so his message would get out. Being controversial to get a message out, sell an album, or a TV show, is nothing new to the world — just look at Beyonce or Lady Gaga. However, for every action there is a reaction and it’s pretty simple science.

Colin Kaepernick believed that other players on his team and throughout the league would kneel or sit with him. However, he was wrong and although other players have joined him by kneeling in protest, Colin currently is unemployed. His actions brought this upon him, and he only exacerbated the situation by saying to the press that he could care less if he played another game in the NFL.

Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers, and I, as many, thought he was going to go into full-time protest mode. He did not; he wanted a better deal and decided to try free agency.

As of this writing, Colin is not going to play football this year, if ever. Yes, actions meet reactions.

A reflection of your character

The lesson here is that it’s about how you handle yourself because your actions are a reflection of your character in the workplace. In this country, at least currently, you have the right to express yourself and you have freedom of speech, but this is a double-edged sword.

People have the right to disagree with you and disparage you for that very belief. You can be fired, not be hirable, and generally become a pariah in the industry where you have worked so hard to garner a reputation for excellence.

That’s what has happened to Colin Kaepernick.

NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown came out recently scolding Colin for his actions and reminding him that you have an employer that pays you for the job you do. If you want to be an activist then become an activist. You don’t get it both ways.

As a historical side note, Jim Brown did just that in the 1970’s. He was arguably one of the greatest running backs EVER with the Cleveland Browns, and he left to be just what Colin said he was — an activist. Brown left money on the table to follow his passion to help his tribe and fight to make a better world. Good on you, Jim.

It’s simple, like pouring water into a glass. Think before you take that action. Sure, emotions can get the best of you, and ideas can set us off. I get that I really do, and that could be the reason I’m penning this post. Although this is a story more for the person looking for a job, I want to try and protect my tribe, especially the young ones.

Us old folks sort have a “been there, done that, got the t-shirt” type of attitude. I don’t want you to stumble and fall into the traps that I seemingly have been able to get out of.

In recruiting, many times we want to kneel down during a meeting in protest of an action by managers or candidates. We want to scream at our boss for not having our back when a candidate calls to complain because it’s our fault that they did not get the gig.

Yeah, like I said, I have lots of t-shirts.

Don’t do it, it’s not worth it, ever

Well Mr. Colin Kaepernick, I will say that you have accomplished two goals:

  1. You have voiced your opinion, and;
  2. You have continued a conversation that has been going on since well before the Civil War.

I applaud you for that, I really do. However, your actions were like serving me a steak with mushrooms and onions and a loaded baked potato on a used garbage lid.

Your story got lost in the controversy you created and that is sad. It could have been handled better. You should have called me because I would have mentored you on that.

That being said, yes Colin, I would like fries with my burger.


Derek Zeller

Derek Zeller draws from over 20 years in the recruiting industry, and he currently is the Director of Recruiting Solutions and Channels with Engage Talent. The last 16 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing within the cleared IT space under OFCCP compliancy. He has experience with both third party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, and military and college recruiting strategies. Derek currently lives in the Portland, Oregon area. Follow Derek on Twitter @Derdiver or connect with him on LinkedIn.