How Do You Learn How to Process Failure?

Interview with Dr. Emmet (Tom) Thompson, College Football Hall of Famer

Tom ThompsonNo one likes failure, but we’ve all dealt with it.  Tom Thompson had to process failure a lot.  But he learned a lot through it.

Today Dr. Emmet (Tom) Thompson is an NCAA record holder. He’s the oldest football player in NCAA history at 61 years old. He is also the oldest football player to score a point in a game.

Tom holds a Ph.D. in leadership form Regent University. He owns a successful business that operates fitness centers in the Dallas area.  He’s been a husband to Teresa for more than 25 years, and he is the author of his autobiography, Kickstart.

Here’s how Tom Thompson learned to process failure.

 

Listen to the interview (33:55)

 

Or read just the excerpt.

One of the things I would say from the beginning is I didn’t have any formulas, or any guidance, or anything on dealing with the failure. A lot of this was just God. …

He says He’s the Author and Finisher of your faith, and that means He’s Coach. For me, one of the biggest things that allowed me to overcome the failures was the fact that I came to an understanding that salvation is so important, yes, but that’s half way there. The other half is when you make Jesus Lord of your life. That’s when your life begins to change. …

A lot of the situations I’ve found myself in, we could tie it back to being young and not having wisdom or knowing where to find it. …

I had multiple marriages, and one of the things that I have learned from that experience was … How do you heal from that? How do you move on from that? I learned as those things happened … a tendency where we want to look at ourselves … that we failed.

What I came to the realization was, “No, I didn’t fail. The marriage did.” Then what can I take form that and move forward?

One thing I also say about failure … no one is teaching how to process failure. They don’t teach it in school. If they did we wouldn’t have GPA. They don’t really teach it in church. Just … they can tell you God will fix it.

Instead, what I’ve come to understand … is that if I do fail, it’s a design variable. I mean, Paul … said, “I glory in my weakness.” We get the idea that if we have failed at something at that point in time that that’s an outcome; and I would argue, no, it’s just a part of the process. Also, in failure, what I’ve found, the resistance that you find in the beginning of an endeavor generally will determine the amount of victory you’ll enjoy at the end, if you don’t quit.

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