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THANKFUL for Challenges and Failures

On this Thanksgiving, many will take the time to recognize and name that for which they are thankful.  If you are like most people this will begin with family, health, and the list will go on.  I am thankful for the immediate family of my wife, Emily, our two sons, Simon, 7, and Spencer, 4, the extended family of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I am also thankful for the blessing of health that my immediate and extended family enjoys.  Moving from there, I would be remiss if I did not mention that I am thankful for a steady career as a teacher and the colleagues that I am blessed to work with, many of whom I call friends.

I could continue to list the things that I am thankful for, but there is one thought of thankfulness that continues to build a space in my brain and that is to be thankful for challenges and failures.  Challenges and failures have led me to enjoy the successes that have blessed my life.

I am thankful for the failures of previous relationships prior to meeting my wife, Emily.  These failures forced me to become a better person, knowing that relationships and ultimately marriage takes work and commitment.

I am thankful for the challenges and failures as a coach.  The many losses that I endured as a Collegiate Head Baseball Coach forced me to evaluate myself and my Core Values.  This failure challenged me to become more and focus on the connections with others and how I can serve others, rather than having them serve me.  These challenges led me to the Core Values, of Learning, Teaching, and Serving.

I am thankful for the times as a young coach that I lost control, breaking a clipboard, throwing a fungo bat, or going into a general tirade.  These situations have demonstrated to me the need for control and have allowed me to become a better father when responding to Simon and Spencer, a better teacher when working with a lethargic student, and have increased my ability to respond using logic and training rather than emotion.

I am thankful for the challenges and failures of positions I applied for and did not get.  I once found out I did not get a head coaching position from the person who got the job.  (That was awkward.)  I went to an interview in a neighboring school district with no portfolio or examples, totally unprepared.  I interviewed for an Athletic Director position, as a finalist and received no communication, not an email, or phone call from them for 3+ months, until I received a form email saying they had filled the position.  I also interviewed for another Athletic Director position and was told in front of another candidate that neither of us would get the position.  I am thankful for all of these failures and challenges because they fill my life with appreciation for the teaching position that I have at Lampeter-Strasburg High School because I am part of a staff that landed itself in the Top 1% of schools in Pennsylvania for improving the performance of their students in Algebra.

So when we sit down and list the things we are thankful for today, your challenge is to list a couple of failures and challenges you have experienced.  Look at how they have been a blessing or how they can be turned into a blessing because right around the corner from that challenge is the blessing.

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