Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Everyone fails, but failure does not necessarily equal a loss



Sam Houston is the publisher of the Hood County News. He is also an actor, author, playwright, performer and entertainment producer/promoter.


This past Saturday I got up, went through my usual Saturday morning routine and then went to the office to get some work completed. The day progressed swimmingly until I simply ran out of gas. It had been a long, trying week and I needed to clear my head. It seemed reasonable to call the workday short and retire to my house to relax for a spell. Fortunately, there was NFL playoff football on TV and the game I focused on was quite an experience.

The Jacksonville Jaguars were pitted against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Jags were led by Trevor Lawrence, an outstanding young quarterback who had been in the No. 1 selection in the NFL draft after winning a national championship in college. His season had been somewhat inconsistent as the Jags had lost five in a row at one point, but they had turned things around and were now amid a five-game win streak and making their first playoff appearance in some years.

The first half of the game could not have gone worse for the Jags and Trevor. The young quarterback managed to throw three interceptions in the first quarter alone; a record for failure that no NFL quarterback had ever managed to obtain. At one point the Jags were down 27-0 and I am pretty sure, most people turned the channel to a different show or simply went to bed. The fans and the sports media analysts were filling the airways with criticism. They were expounding what everyone in the world who had been watching the game already knew — that the first half was a total failure and the blame largely lay at Trevor Lawrence’s feet.

The second half was a different story. Lawrence completed 15 of 17 passes and threw three touchdown passes. The Jaguars came all the way back and won the game on a last-second field goal, 31-30. It was one of the biggest and best comebacks in NFL history and certainly a dramatic and entertaining game to watch.

How did Trevor Lawrence do it? How did he work through the agony of four first half interceptions, and then have the fortitude to come out in the second half and not only play better, but play remarkably well and lead his team to victory? Why did he not give up, hang his head in despair and tell himself it simply was not his day? What motivated him and gave him the courage to keep moving forward even when the odds were so far against him?

There are hundreds of examples of great comebacks in history. Abraham Lincoln suffered a tremendous defeat in losing the 1858 Illinois Senate election to Stephen Douglas but rallied from the loss to become his party’s candidate for the nation’s highest office. He was elected in 1860 and became one of our greatest presidents.

Richard Nixon lost the 1960 presidential election, and then lost the California Senate election in 1962. The world considered former vice-president Nixon to be a political “has been,” but just a few short years later he came back from political obscurity to win the presidency in the election of 1968.

In the weeks and months following the devastating defeat at Pearl Harbor there was genuine concern the Japanese might invade the mainland of the United States. With a damaged and depleted U.S. Navy, fear was rampant. Just a mere six months after Dec. 7, the U.S. military unleashed a devasting defeat upon the Imperial Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway. The Japanese lost more than 3,000 men, four aircraft carriers and 300 aircraft. The United States suffered the loss of 360 men and 145 aircraft during what some describe as the greatest U.S. naval victory in history. The battle changed the tide of the war in the Pacific.

Seems like all these examples involve strong-willed people who had inherent confidence in their abilities. Lincoln and Nixon knew they would not win every single vote, and Trevor Lawrence knew he would not win every single play. The U.S. military forces understood there would be regrettable, but expected losses. All of these examples played the “long game” and knew if they did their best, prepared and worked hard, eventually the table would turn in their favor.

Temporary defeats are to be expected. There is no one who has ever operated a business, been in love, or raised a child, who has not had setbacks. I have never met a cowboy who can say he has never been thrown from a horse. The question is not if the setbacks will come, but how a person deals with and works through the setbacks that matters. It is confidence in one’s own skills and talents. It is maintaining faith that the hard work and dedication will eventually pay off. It is having the courage and grit to compete no matter the obstacles or odds. These are the characteristics that allow people to come through the darkest passages of life and bask in the sunshine of another day.

As this next week unfolds, there will be little setbacks in your life. It might be as small as the new puppy having an accident on the living room rug, to losing a major client at work and wondering if you can keep the doors open. Keep your focus, stay the course, be cool when others are losing their head, do what you do best, and eventually, success with be yours.

Thought for the day: Success is not final: failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.

Until next time I will keep ridin’ the storm out. | 817-573-7066, ext. 260