Training Well. Failing Well?

Close up of an unshaven depressed young man gazing off into the distance. Shallow depth of field.

Training Well. Failing Well?


After spending the summer preparing for college football with my cousin, it was time to put years of training to the test. As a freshman in a new city on a new team with new coaches and players, it was a bit nerve-racking. I worked hard and earned playing time as a freshman linebacker. But, our team was ranked one of the lowest in the NCAA. I assume now that our coaches were under tremendous pressure to keep their jobs.

What ensued was: quitting the team and giving up a scholarship, feeling demoralized by the events that led up to my quitting, moving three states away partly in an attempt to escape, seeking pleasure and enjoyment, and bottling up any negative emotions or past hurt.

The failure and quitting entered my business life and parenting. I didn’t give up on my kids, but I became easily disappointed in them because I hadn’t yet forgiven myself for giving up on my own dreams. I was highly critical of how my boys played sports, and when I did encourage them, there was always a lesson of improvement to follow. After all, if they would just work a little harder than I did, they could succeed in areas which I failed. No son could live up to my expectations.

Joy became more and more elusive. Eventually, anger entered in. Even though God was an afterthought most of the time, it was Him I blamed. I went to church most Sundays and ate that thin little wafer. Wasn’t that supposed to make me feel better?

How did life turn out so poorly?

Maybe I missed it, but I don’t remember there being a class on how to fail well. If I don’t know how to fail well, how can I possibly teach my children how to learn and even find joy amidst failure?

Answers that heal

Finally, it took over $100,000 in crushing debt and a desperate cry for help to open my eyes and heart to the answers that healed. Stay tuned next week to ‘Failing Forward’.

John (a student of fatherhood)

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