Posts tagged facing failure

Facing the Blitz

You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can always control how you respond.

Some of life’s toughest challenges present the opportunity to gain some of life’s biggest victories. It’s often a matter of mindset.

Consider the blitz. It’s perhaps any defense’s most effective weapon. But by putting all their effort in pressuring the quarterback, they leave open the receivers to the possibility of the offense making a great play.

That’s the experience of Stepping Up’s own Jeff Kemp. An 11-year veteran of the NFL, Jeff, as a quarterback, dreaded the blitz, but he welcomed the opportunity it provided to make the big play. As he’s made that application to life, he has seen that some of the enemy’s biggest efforts to discourage and defeat, reveal even bigger opportunities to trust God more and to see him bless in ways that are beyond anything we can ask or imagine.

Jeff has taken those years of experience on the football field and decades of experience in life and put them inside the covers of a book, Facing the Blitz: Three Strategies for Turning Trials into Triumphs, available Tuesday, March 24. Check out what Jeff has to say in this video, and in the introduction to his book.

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I wouldn’t have guessed that my experience handling blitzes on and off the field would provide me with many of the most powerful lessons of my life. And I certainly didn’t expect it to make the difference between a life of meaning and one of despair. But that’s been my reality—and probably yours too. Isn’t life, for all of us, about facing blitzes?

If you’ll take a long-term perspective, if you’re willing to change, and if you adopt an others-centered approach to everyday living, then life’s problems, attacks, and trials will serve to grow you. They will grow your humility, your honesty, your relationships, your faith, and your joy. They will open up your eyes to the pain that others are feeling because of their blitzes and help you be a better team player and support person for them. These are all good things that can come out of your blitzes.

You’ll learn that overcoming is not about bouncing back so much as bouncing UP. No matter how near or how far you are from your blitz, this is not a book about the past. It’s about the present and future. This is a message about recovering, about coming back from, about transforming—and then getting better and going further than you ever dreamed possible.

But to do all that, you’ll need the courage to embrace three simple principles—strategies, if you will—which are as easy to understand as they are difficult to follow:

  1. Take a long-term view.
  2. Be willing to change.
  3. Reach out to others.

Before you dive into understanding and trying to employ the three strategies for facing, and beating, a blitz, you’ll need to understand why some people are better at it than others, and why for other people these requirements don’t make any sense. It all has to do with how we see ourselves, the world, and life in general. How well you master these strategies will depend on how you answer these questions:

  1. Do you see life as an individual sport or a team sport?
  2. Do you look at the world from the standpoint of a consumer or an investor?
  3. What is your power source for living, loving, and overcoming trials?

Your answers to these questions will reveal your lenses.

© 2015 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading the post, “Facing the Blitz,” on FamilyLife’s blog for men, Stepping Up.

STEPThink - 10-point checklistRandy Alcorn helps us sort through “How God Uses Suffering for His Glory” and for our ultimate good.

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistVisit the Facing the Blitz website to download a chapter excerpt from Jeff’s book, or order a copy of the book for yourself.

STEPPass - 10-point checklistEncourage other men who may be facing life’s blitz by sharing a link to this blog post or the book’s official website.

“It was my worst moment, but it was my best”

“I don’t believe what I just saw!”

Avid baseball fans will recognize those words.  That’s what radio broadcaster Don Drysdale yelled when Kirk Gibson of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit a two-run homer to beat the Oakland A’s in Game One of the 1988 World Series.

Those words describe my reaction as well as I watched the game that night on television, 25 years ago. Gibson was a star for the Dodgers that season, but as the Series began he had a pulled left hamstring and a swollen right knee.  He didn’t even dress for the game, and didn’t come out for pregame introductions.

But he was down in the team locker room, watching the game on TV.  In the ninth inning the Dodgers were down 4-3, and the A’s had baseballs best closer, Dennis Eckersley, on the mound.  Two men were out, and one Dodger was on base, when Gibson surprised everyone by emerging from the dugout and hobbling to the plate.

The guy could hardly walk, much less run.  He could barely swing the bat, and didn’t seem to have any power.  And yet somehow he hit a home run that won the game for the Dodgers and sent the crowd into a frenzy.  It’s one of the great moments in baseball history, and it still sends chills down my spine when I watch the replay.  As the great Vin Scully said on the television broadcast, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”

Gibson didn’t play for the rest of the series, but his one at-bat helped spark the Dodgers to a 4-1 series win over the favored A’s.

I’m sure many have written of Gibson’s heroics as a metaphor for never giving up, for battling life’s obstacles, etc.  But today I read an article about that game, and caught something that impressed me just as much.  Another man stepped up that day, and that was Dennis Eckersley, the pitcher.

'it was my worst moment, but it was my best moment'

Eckersley watches from the mound as Gibson’s homer ends game one of the 1988 World Series

When Gibson hit his homer, Eckersley recalls that he was “in shock, total shock.”  He makes some interesting observations about what it was like to be a loser that dramatic night.  “Everything went into slow motion.  It was incredible.  Once it sunk in, I turned around to walk off.  The whole place was going nuts.  I had the total opposite emotion.  What a feeling. … There are 50,000 people screaming and nobody feels as bad as you.  It was terrible.  Walking up the runway, no one said anything.  It was dead silence.”

And here’s the quote from Eckersley that caught my eye:  “After the game, there were a zillion questions from the media. … For me, I needed to do it, to accept it.  Looking back, it was the best thing I ever did.  I answered questions.  It was my worst moment, but it was my best moment in a lot of ways.  Standing up to it.  Accepting what comes with defeat, taking responsibility.  That was a proud moment for me.”

Wow, what an example.  Eckersley knew he made a bad pitch, and the last thing he wanted to do was talk about it to the press.  But he stepped up and did it.

How many men face similar situations, yet refuse to accept responsibility?  How many young men make mistakes and insist on putting the blame on others?

I’m sure Dennis Eckersley is tired of still talking about that worst moment from 25 years ago.  But it sure is easier to accept responsibility than to run from it.

Click here to read a Sports Illustrated oral history commemorating Gibson’s home run.

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