During these 10 day I’m sending my son, Tyler, encouraging quotes and messages while he attends the JRob 10-day Intensive Wrestling Camp in Iowa. My goal is to inspire him, to give him something to hang on to when things get hellacious, when his asthma acts up, when his muscles are past burning and have started shaking, when all his strength and endurance are used up and he still has a ways to go.
As I write his messages, I realize I’m not just talking to him—I’m talking to me too.
Others in the series:
We dread it.
We try to avoid it.
We fight against it.
It’s the last thing we want to tangle with when pursuing our goal.
Setbacks and obstacles we can deal with—grudgingly—but all out failure, not so much.
But it happens.
To all of us.
Even to our heroes.
I’ve loved Abraham Lincoln since I was a child.
The combination of his character, integrity, and wit were (and still are) unmatched. His presidency is one of the greatest our country has ever known. He held a nation together when it was falling apart at the seams. And he instilled confidence in our nation when it was a rare commodity.
Lincoln led with wisdom and grit like no one else has before or since.
I always assumed he was a wealthy child of a prominent statesman. So imagine my shock when I leaned he wasn’t born a silver-spooned elitist but a poor backwoods country bumpkin, just like me.
- His father was an illiterate vagrant laborer
- His mother was frail with chronic illness and died before he was 10.
- He spent some time homeless while his father looked for work.
- He had very little formal education but was an avid reader determined to educate himself.
His life was not one of prestige and privilege but of poverty.
Instead of his life being marked with opportunity and success, it was riddled with loss, heartbreak, defeat, and failure
Whatever is the opposite of a Midas-touch, that’s what Abe had. It didn’t matter if it was business or politics or romance. He failed at everything he laid his hands on.
But it was his resilience. His tenacity. His determination to try again and again that finally led him to the successful presidency we admire.
His character, integrity, and mental-toughness were forged by the fires of failure. His inner-strength and resiliences were formed by his determined will to get back up after each failure, try a different angle, and go at it again.
What a great example!
The cool thing is, I don’t need a hero from history to look up to, even though I do. I’m lucky to be raising one, to have one in my home.
Tyler started wrestling his freshman year of high school. (2017-2018)
He literally knew nothing about the sport. He started because of my encouragement. Okay, my pushing. Knowing his personality, intensity, and desire to be in control of his win or loss, I knew wrestling would be a good fit.
He thoroughly disagreed! He was wholly against it—at first. His mind was too full of prejudices and misconceptions of the sport to give it serious consideration.
But after failing to make the basketball team, he decided, reluctantly, to give it a go.
When he stepped onto the mat for his first tournament he had no idea what he was doing. He didn’t know :
- How the score was kept
- What to do to score
- Any technique
He lost every match.
It was rough go at first.
The daily workouts were killer, like nothing he’d every experienced before.
His brain was about to explode from leaning everything for the first time. (There is no carryover from any other sport to wrestling. It’s in a league of its own.)
The boy was wrung out. Exhausted.
But he stuck with it. He got stronger. His endurance increased. There were tears and times he thought about quitting, but he forged forward determined to see the season to its end.
Week after week he’d sweat like he’d never sweat before.
Day after day he worked harder than he thought he every could.
He was pushed to his limits more then once—and then pushed a few steps further until there was a new limit.
All along the way he endured defeat after defeat after defeat. Failure after failure after failure.
I began to seriously question the wisdom of my advice to wrestle.
But he kept getting back up; kept getting back on the mat match after match after match.
And little by little he learned.
Inch by excruciating inch his confidence grew.
And finally, towards the end of the season, he got his first win!
He was shocked and exhilarated.
I knew how much that win meant to him. And my joy for him leaked out all over the place.
You know what’s interesting? Several weeks before that win he told me, “I love wrestling more than I love playing football. Thanks for pushing me.”
Come again? Who are you and what did you do with my son? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
It was true. He did love it. He loved the challenge. He loved being pushed to new heights he never dreamed of. He loved his team and coaches. And he loved the camaraderie, the family, and the bonds he was forming.
As the season progressed I watched my son change—for the better. Wrestling was bringing out the best in Tyler.
Passion ignited. Followed by a desire to improve. Which lead to creating goals and plans to achieve those goals.
Tyler finished his season with 3 wins and 20 losses and an intense desire to do and be better.
In the off-season Tyler lifted weights and went to Pinnacle Wrestling School for a 2 hour practice, 2-3 days a week. There he learned technique and strategy from some of the best. His coaches are amazing men who KNOW wrestling. They’re NCAA champs, World Wrestling Champs, and Olympic medalists. AND they know how to teach wrestling well. These men genuinely care about these kids and are masters at finding their potential and drawing it out of them. And then stretching it further.
This past season (2018-2019), Tyler was a different wrestler because of their efforts.
He was tenacious. Aggressive. Dominant. Focused. Intense.
You know that first tournament from his freshman year where he knew nothing and lost every match?
This past season he won his bracket!
And then he kept on winning.
Every time he stepped on the mat he had the attitude that the win was his, he just had to claim it.
He ended the year with 24 wins and 3 losses. He had the most wins on the JV and second most pin and points of his entire JV team. And he earned his letter. Talk about a turn around!
Now he is reaching for new heights. Setting new goals. And Pinnacle and JRob are part of the ladder.
It doesn’t hurt that his high school coaching staff is also stacked with the same caliber and quality wrestlers that Pinnacle has.
I don’t share Tyler’s story to brag about my son.
I share it because it inspires me!
As I’ve struggled with depression (SAD) this winter and my current season of refinement, looking at my son and his resilience has encouraged me to keep going.
To not give up.
To push past my limits and reach for new heights and to achieve my goals NO MATTER WHAT!
No one is going to give them to me. They’re mine. I just need to exert the continuous effort to go get them.
- I’m learning to not to let my failures define me.
- I’m learning to use them as a stepping stone to climb out of the pit.
- I’m learning to lean on God and His strength because mine is too limited to do what he’s called me to do.
- I’m learning success isn’t final and failure isn’t fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.
- I’m learning that difference between failure and being a failure is a matter of CHOICE.
What do you say? Want to join me?