Something the Boy Said

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/


"I'll do better next time. No excuses"

    –AfricanAmerican Teen-Age Boy


My daughter started junior-high this year. It goes without saying, I'm not sure how she got to 13 so quick. Regardless, she decided to try cross country as a sport. I was a little concerned. She showed me that my concern was unfounded. The sport helped her in multiple ways and her team went undefeated. A good first year.

The story that I write about tonight revolves around a chance meeting and something a boy said to me.

At a meet a couple of weeks ago I met a boy who must have been 13. I didn't get his name. But he left a mark (see the quote above) on me. I wasn't expecting the response he gave. I only asked him how his race went. 

"I will do better next next time. No excuses."

Those words still reverberate through my soul. We adults would do well to put his words into practice. It's clear we live in an age that carries many questions. Figuring out life can seem like a rel=”youtube” target=”_blank” title=”How to solve a Rubik's Cube”>Rubik's Cube or trying to figure out some complex riddle. For many, life is not what was expected or wanted. We're like that person trying to open a door used to open, but now seems permanently stuck or locked.

This is not a post about a boy's response and how it can change everything. It is about a foundational principle that can carry you to figuring out much. Sort of like a star in the northern sky that confirms your position on a dark sea. It really gives you hope. In the end, you'll go further with this approach in your life, while leaving excuses to those that never really wanted to change anyway.

Life is difficult. The idea that it was supposed to be easy originated with the same folks who gave you the idea of "retirement." Not many will admit to easy, but humanly speaking, we tend to like things to go our way. No indictments here, just looking in the mirror (seeing me).

So what's with the african-american notation? I am always inspired when I meet someone who comes from my culture and wants to achieve through a timeless principle like responsibility-true responsibility. Far too often, the narrative speaks to a different approach. I'm not condemning anything here, I'm lifting something up, namely a young man's intention.

"I will do better next time. No excuses."

So what have I learned from that boy?

  1. There is a next time, Lord willing.
  2. Doing better next time implies that I made a mistake or failed in some way and I've earned the right to try again. It's OK.
  3. My losses need to be in lights, just like my successes.
  4. Failing to take responsibility (true responsibility) is akin to avoiding learning.
  5. Reflection, wherever and whenever I embraced it, has been a faithful friend. Reflection gives you the opportunity to see what went right and what went wrong.

How about you?