What if a drug could save your career? Would you take it?

It seems like daily we are bombarded by stories coming out in the media of professional athletes who are caught taking performance enhancing drugs.  They risk their entire career by taking these drugs and getting caught. This week and next NFL teams will cut down their rosters, and many players will lose the one job they’ve worked their entire life for.

I’ve often wondered if I was in that position, being a professional athlete making millions, would I take PEDs to sustain or grow my career?  I can’t initially say I wouldn’t.  I’m always thankful for not having been put in that situation. I’m extremely competitive; I’m not sure I would have the will power not to take PEDs if I thought I was failing.

Slate had a great piece a while back about a former professional football player, Nate Jackson of the Denver Broncos.  Nate was a tight end and was cut from the roster after 6 years and turned to PEDs to get back:

“I sit down in my locker for the last time. It was always a bit out of sorts, full of clothes and shoes and tape and gloves, notebooks and letters and gifts. Do I even want these cleats? These gloves? These memories? Yes. I fill up my box. Six years as a Denver Bronco. Six more than most people can say. Still feels like a failure, though. So this is how the end feels? Standing in an empty locker room with a box in my hand? Yep. Now leave.”

That’s it, right?  It’s the fear of losing all that you have.  It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, fear of losing what you have is a powerful adversary.

I’ve seen a grown man, with a wife and children, and a strong member of his church, sit in down in front of me and lie to my face, because of this fear.  You don’t have to be a professional athlete.

I completely understand this fear, and why athletes do PEDs.  So, I’ll ask you the question, if tomorrow you had a choice, lose your job or take a drug that will save your job, would you do it?

Hit me in the comments.  I have a feeling many people will say they wouldn’t.  I’ll let you know right now, based on my experiences, I’ll be skeptical.

Saying you wouldn’t tells me potentially two things about you:

  1. You don’t have fear of losing your job because you have another source income (I run into a lot of women who ‘become’ consultants and talk about how you have to ‘do what you love’, all the while having a husband who is paying the bills);
  2. You lack self-insight and/or haven’t ever experienced this fear of loss.

I guess, in a round about way, I answered my own question about what I might do facing the end.  Fear sucks – remember that HR Pros.

4 thoughts on “What if a drug could save your career? Would you take it?

  1. Great question. When the steriod era of Baseball (MLB), was getting exposed I thought about that same thing. If I could take steriods and gain 20% points on my batting avg., 10 homeruns, and 50 RBIs, and get $10 million more on my next contract, it would be a no brainer. Especially if you can take it with a Doctors supervision. Same here, as long as I don’t violate my religious convictions, I am in. I have a family to support.

  2. With all due respect, Tim, fear only sucks when you let it run you. It is a natural human response to survive, but it only serves us on rare occasions. The answer for me is simple – it is a matter of integrity and responsibility. Our society has a disturbing denial of the consequences of substance abuse and the root causes that are left not dealt with when we address our pain and fears with unprescribed solutions that prolong dealing with realities. Of course, I may not be able to empathize with you on this…careers in professional sports or any other industry are not as high stakes for women like me who face barriers coming in the door and still make 75 cents on the dollar when we get there. Consider that women are not as weak as you imply, relying on their husband’s incomes and seeking what they are passionate about. They just aren’t interested in playing games where it is acceptable to do or be anything inauthentic to who they are. And by the way, my career has supported three men, only one of whom has found his way to doing the work he is truly passionate about. A quick poll of the women on my team in the office says that 100% of them wouldn’t pop a pill and take an unnecessary risk (see Ian above ^) for any job. Maybe it’s just because there isn’t a pill that enhances our realities – the experience of wage discrimination, bias, supporting your spouse when they get laid off, or working multiple jobs as a single mother when your husband leaves and you have children to care for? Any HR Pros that don’t want to live in fear are welcome to contact me – I’ve already decided that the idea of 40+ more years of living like that would kill me first.

  3. Fram oil filters used to have a commercial with the tag line…”you can pay me now or pay me later”. For me, this is the crux of the question Tim asks here – and it is the issue with our quick fix mentality that so many embrace – what are the long term consequences? Is the potential shame, loss of reputation (and so much more) worth it for the short term fix of artificially enhancing your abilities? Really? How’s that working out for Lance Armstrong?

  4. Lose my job, the income for my family, and the stability provided to them via my job.. or pop a pill? I’ll be honest, I probably wouldn’t even think twice about it.
    The caveat being, it’s something more than snorting a line off the bathroom sink and doing it just for the sake of doing it. I assume there’s some kind of purpose of the drug that would make me perform to the level I needed to to keep the job. Heck, look at the stories coming out of college campuses for a long time about kids popping prescription meds just to be able to study longer and nail their tests at the end of each semester. I wonder if they weigh the decision they are making, or if they are just caught up in the moment and take it without a second thought?

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