Watching the draft process for professional sports, you realize pretty quickly that the best college players in the country regularly get selected to pretty poor teams. Even veteran players must adapt to changing personnel as teams shift their roster from year to year.

As a result, no matter how great a quarterback may be, he can still get stuck on a weak team, while others in the same position can transition from a brilliant career in college to championships as a professional player.

That principle works in leadership as well. While Winston Churchill was an extraordinary leader, would he be remembered as well without the timing of being England’s Prime Minister during World War II? When you study his career you see just how easily his trajectory could have been derailed and he would have never made it to the top when the country needed him the most.

Would Generals like Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton have achieved their legendary status without being in pivotal positions during the same war? 

The same is true for all of us – authors, film producers, CEO’s, pastors, and other leaders. That’s not to say that God doesn’t have a plan, opens doors, and guides our decisions, but it’s obvious that multiple issues are in play during our career that impact where we land and how much influence we have when we get there.

The lesson? You can be encouraged that it’s not always about you. Certainly we should all be growing in our skill as leaders, but we can’t always carry the burden of thinking all setbacks or failures are our fault. 

We can’t always control timing, but timing matters, and that’s worth remembering.


Phil Cooke, Ph.D. is a producer and media consultant to churches and ministries across the country. His latest book is “The Way Back: How Christians Blew Their Credibility and How We Get It Back.” Find out more at


Get the Entrepreneur Daily newsletter delivered to your inbox