Posted on: November 16th, 2012 by Jen Mueller

Sports metaphors can be effective descriptors at work – if everyone is on the same page and understands the correct meaning.  Each week we’ll take a look at a familiar sports phrase or metaphor in business, identify its origin, explain its meaning and demonstrate how to use it in business.


Sports phrase: The Red Zone

This is a football phrase that refers to the area within 20 yards of the goal line.  When a team is in the red zone it is close to scoring.  In fact, it’s expected that a team will score when it’s in the red zone, because it’s so close to the goal line.


Business Application:  In business this phrase can be used to describe when a project is nearing its deadline.  It could also be used to describe a point in time where it’s critical to make a move.

Marilyn, a financial planner, recently sent me this example of how she uses this sports phrase when working with older clients:

  • “You are in (or approaching) the red zone of life so let’s ramp up the retirement funds.”

She says that phrase is getting great results and really painting a picture that it’s time for her clients to take action.  Well done, Marilyn!


*Take these definitions with a grain of salt.  They’re based on years of being a fan and more than a decade in sports broadcasting and Jen’s status as America’s Expert Talker.