I ran into an old friend last week and spent three delightful hours, not catching up on the 15 years since we’d last seen each other, but on the 15 previous years in which we had. Lash Ashmore had been the varsity soccer coach at Newtown High School and I was the sportswriter from the town newspaper. It was a lifetime ago since he retired and moved to the mountains of Montana and I retired and started my own business in network marketing.
I had always considered Lash a bit of a “contrarian.” He was clearly different than other coaches. I was by no means a soccer enthusiast, so I was never in a position to question any of his coaching decisions or tactics, but it was easy to see that this man had an “X-factor” about him. His teams were always good and his players always loved him.
* That X-factor statement may be more legitimized by the fact that a high percentage of Lash’s former players are highly-successful businessmen today and frequently vacation in Montana with their old coach at his home.
Anyway, we downed a few beers (just like the old days) and reminisced about some of the memories we shared. One, in particular, struck me in a brand new way this time.
Back in the 90′s, Newtown was coming off a season in which it had fallen just short of a state championship. In preseason practice, the following summer, coach Ashmore sat his boys down and asked them to reflect on the regrets they’d experienced in their lives so far. While there can’t be a whole lot of regret in a young teenager yet, the boys spoke of things like missing out on the championship, not asking out the girl, not studying for the test, and not taking certain parental advice. Interestingly, not many had regrets about the things that they had actually done - but more things they “didn’t do.”
Next, the coach asked them to come up with a list of excuses they may have made regarding playing soccer to their levels of capability. They said things like poor officiating, playing on a bad field, getting a bad break, not feeling well, being selfish on the field, mental lapses, poor conditioning, and being intimidated.
Lash then challenged his team. “How about if we make it a goal to finish this season with no regrets?” he offered the boys. “And all those excuses we’ve all used in the past . . . throw them all away. None of them are useful anymore. They no longer apply. This year is the year of “No Excuses. No Regrets.” That became the team’s motto which the players proudly wore on their practice jerseys that summer, and it was the popular war cry all year as they beat every team they faced and went on to capture the state championship.
As much as I loved the story when I was there, it took on a brand new meaning to the new-and-improved Tommy Wyatt last week. I, of course, applied it to business and to life.
For whatever reason, I’ve been living with a “No Excuses. No Regrets” attitude for many years. Maybe coach Ashmore rubbed off on me along the way. But I’d like to ask you to take a minute and apply it to what’s important in your life right now.
Take a few minutes and jot down some regrets you have in your life so far.
Next (and this takes some real honesty), write down all the excuses you’ve come up with as to why you’re not living your life to the fullest right now.
Together, let’s cast away all the regrets and take a lesson from them.
Now the excuses . . . make sure you get em all! Take them outside and burn them with a match. And promise yourself you’ll never use any of those excuses again. They aren’t useful anymore. They no longer apply.
Maybe you and I can sit down sometime down the road, and you can tell me all about your championship.
When I was a kid, my mother always used to tell me to “take the High Road.”
To a kid, especially a boy, that usually meant being a wimp and letting somebody get away with something.
Clint Eastwood would ride into town with is cigar and his pancho, and exact his revenge on all the bad guys. I’m supposed to let them all off the hook?
I never understood.
We live in a society that glamorizes an eye for an eye.
So let’s explore this “high road” stuff. What is it, and why would anybody want to take it?
Somebody has done something terrible to you. It has affected your life in such a negative way that you can’t stop thinking about it. You’re consumed with negative feelings, anger, and even depression. You want justice.
Taking the high road would be to forgive.
Not necessarily to forget or to pretend as though it never happened (although that would suggest a higher level of being). But to release the anger. Stop letting it destroy you. Be the better person. I know. It sounds like a sissy’s way out. But consider this: No matter how badly somebody has wronged you there’s no amount of revenge that will undo their transgressions. No good can come of revenge. Only more hurtfulness. You may feel a sense of vidication, and it might even make you feel like Clint Eastwood in front of your friends, but it will always do more harm than good.
If your goal is to “feel better” or gain a personal satisfaction, then take solace in the fact that you were big enough and strong enough to take that famous high road. When you laugh at the bully you disempower him.
I know. Your situation is different. Somebody really wronged you and you really feel justified to pay them back.
Well guess what? I’ve been betrayed too. I’ve been stolen from, lied to, and gossiped about too; all unjustly.
Don’t think I haven’t plotted and fantasized about recompense. I’m human too.
My favorite line from my favorite movie (Casablanca) is where the sleezy local crook, played by Peter Lorre, sits down with Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and says, “You despise me, don’t you Rick?” Without hesitation Bogey answers back, “If I ever gave you a thought, I probably would.”
Acid destroys the container in which it is stored.
There’s this think called karma. If you react with vengeance and fury, you can bet that the same negative forces will push back against you. If you react with forgiveness, the world will sit up and take notice and karma will pay you back in kind (not to mention the karma that will come to the person who hurt you).
Let it go! That jerk who deserves your wrath doesn’t even exist in your world anymore.
Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Victory is the supreme vengeance in life.
Go ahead, take the high road. Focus on the good stuff. Turn the page.