Punting won’t get you far in life

December 16, 2015

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Recently, I’ve noticed a product manager use the word ‘punt’ as an informal business phrase. To him, it means to give away something, or to delay something for an undetermined amount of time. It doesn’t map directly to the football term, but it’s close enough.

An example would be, you are specifically asked to handle something, and instead, for whatever reason, you delegate to someone else equally or less responsible than you. 

It’s not a negative move, it’s a tactic, that can be helpful to deploy once in a while. I mean there’s no shame in delegating. And in football, you’re punting because it’s usually the only option you have. You’re not going to score a touchdown, or even a field goal, so you punt.

This made me think. Punting happens outside your projects slack channel. It’s signalled by your behavior and decisions. Eating McDonalds is punting on dinner. Cancelling an interview is punting on your career. Wearing the same old shoes is punting on your wardrobe. Lifting less than you know you can lift is punting on your strength. Complaining about someone is punting on resolving your issue with them directly. 

Like punting on a simple duties, there’s a time and a place. There’s certainly situations that call for a punt. But most of the time, the world rewards hard work, and smart thinking, not shortcuts. As much as I can, I’ll try not to punt.