Dear Fellow Former Players & Friends,
Mistakes come with a feeling of guilt and embarrassment; a sense that you didn’t live up to expectations.
I do a great job not talking about my past mistakes, mainly because I don’t think it makes for good conversation and, more importantly, I’m concerned with focusing on the person I want to be. I want to grow and get better. The less I talk about where I’ve been the faster I get where I’m going.
I analyze everything, so I had to learn not to dwell on my past mistakes. Putting things behind me takes effort. I’ve learned to follow a process that allows me to understand my emotions and take actions to move on.
First, check your emotions and evaluate your feelings. Identify where those emotions are coming from. Why do you feel quilt or regret? Were your actions out of character? Were you trying to please someone? Did you let a group of people down? Are your feelings motivated by fear? Unchecked emotions can wear you down. Identifying where the worry is coming from and who you disappointed is the first step to moving on.
Next assess how this will impact you personally. Will you lose your job, money or even your freedom? Most things don’t rise to that level, but if it does just know you can overcome anything.
Acknowledge your actions. You’re not expected to make mistakes when given a responsibility. Yet, we do make mistakes. It happens. But, making excuses makes the situation worse. Admit to yourself where things went wrong. Did you gather enough information? Did you rely on someone’s help? Did you exercise patience? If the mistake falls squarely on you, just own it. Say “I did it”. And if you need to say you’re sorry, sincerely apologize.
If you don’t need to apologize to anyone else, apologize to yourself. Maybe apologize to your present-day self for the mistakes made by a younger less wise self. Then move on.
Look for a “do-over”. Work to make it up to yourself. Try to minimize the damage or fix the mistake. Earn respect. Regain self- worth, self- dignity and integrity. Get back out there to earn the coach’s trust. Life is no different, you want to be trustworthy and recognized as someone with integrity.
Who you are now is not who you were then, and bad choices today can be better choices tomorrow. Don’t put setbacks in your suitcase of life, but do catalog and learn from the experience. The apology is key. That is the closure. There may be forthcoming consequences, but for your heart saying I’m sorry is powerful and sufficient.
Make amends without expecting a pat on the back. Just do what is required and do it with genuineness. Taking action creates an opportunity for healing, the beginning of a comeback and befitting the next generation of you.
Professional Athletes Foundation
NFL Player 1990-1999