Why Did He Quit His Dream Job?

Damian Jackson made it. As a Navy Seal, he achieved what very few others had. So why did he quit at age 24?

In this article, we continue our discussion on risk and innovation. Here we examine a provocative story of a man who did what many wouldn’t. In the end, my purpose is to challenge you to do something that you have always wanted to do but didn’t. I want you to take the next step in becoming a disruptive leader.

Those that follow me know that I’m passionate about disruptive thinking, incredible opportunities and doing what we never thought possible. There are many phenomenal opportunities to live your dreams. Unfortunately, most are content playing it safe. My goal is to help you make your breakthrough.

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A Humble Beginning

Damian Jackson (watch the youtube video) was a troubled child, not engaged at school and not sure what he was going to do. Feeling few other choices were available, he joined the Navy. Maybe that is when he found his consuming desire like we discussed in the last post.

Imagine training for six months in the worst of conditions to do what very few others had ever done. Imagine the satisfaction when you make the cut and are included in one of the most elite fighting teams in the world.

He went on to serve two tours, on in Asia and the other in Yemen. He seemed to be in the prime of his career.

But that wasn’t enough.

In what ways are you thinking bigger than others expect?

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A Critical Decision

What would make someone that is driven to reach such heights give it up outside of an injury? Damien Jackson had another dream. He wanted to play in the NFL.

But there was a small problem – he had never played football. How do you get to the NFL at age 24 and have never played football or attended college?

The answer is that you ask. You keep asking. Then you take a leap of faith.

You can read the complete story here but the quick version is that he did his research and started asking. Finally, when no college offered him a spot, he took a leap of faith, enrolling at the University of Nebraska without a scholarship. It wasn’t until bumping into then head coach Mike Riley that he was invited to workout with the team.

But even then, his success isn’t complete.

What critical decisions are you making that will lead to a disruptive innovation?

Change and Adapt

Today he prepares for his sophomore season having only played briefly in one game. He has switched positions to play defensive end and is also learning how to play long snapper. He is willing to do whatever is necessary to increase his playing time and one day play in the NFL.

In our efforts to create a disruptive innovation, we must be flexible.

How are you adapting your skills and mindset to create that disruptive innovation?

The Hidden Disruption

Although he hasn’t yet become a starter or realized his ultimate dream of playing in the NFL, Damian has made a critical impact. Former head coach Mike Riley and current head coach Scott Frost appreciate his attitude. They comment that he has helped build a strong culture of excellence on the team. That is exactly what Frost needs to complete his innovation in returning Nebraska to its previous championship caliber.

Sometimes we make the difference when we are simply trying to realize our own dreams.

Look around. How are others stepping up their game because you are thinking bigger and reaching higher?



Loren Murfield, Ph.D.


I work with leaders and organizations to think bigger and reach higher to find breakthrough success. This is a process that I can help you learn. One of the ways I help clients is by guiding them through my Disruptive Opportunity Challenge.  Begin the process today by contacting me.

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