Dungy's Diary

Uncommon Fathers

uncommon fathers

In the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, Derek Redmond believed he could win a silver medal for Great Britain. After five years of daily training and eight operations on his Achilles tendons, Derek had won the first two heats and was running in the semifinals of the 400 meters. Things were going as planned until, coming out of the first turn, he heard a snap and felt a sharp pain in his left leg. Derek went down in a heap on the track as he realized that his left hamstring had exploded, and with it, his dreams of an Olympic medal.

He got to his feet and began to run—hop, really—to finish the race. He later said that he was determined to finish and therefore waved off the race officials, who were running toward him with a stretcher.

And then he felt a hand on his shoulder.

Redmond began to push the hand of assistance away until he turned to find himself looking into the face of his father, Jim. When Jim Redmond had seen what had happened to his son, he pushed his way out of the crowd and onto the track and rushed to tell Derek that he didn’t have to finish. But when Derek insisted that he complete the race, Jim said they would do it together.

Derek cried into Jim’s shoulder as they walked the remainder of the course, and race officials continued to come to their side in an effort to assist the pair. Jim now was the one who waved them off, later saying he didn’t understand Spanish, and wasn’t going to be stopped from being with his son.

Our children need to know that we’re there to help them pick up the pieces of their shattered dreams, to tell them that they’re okay, to help them see that failure isn’t final, and that when they take their next steps, they will not be alone. Quality time is important. Being actively engaged with our children in their schoolwork or their activities or by simply reading a book is important. But they need quantity time, too, and lots of it. Even if there’s nothing special on the agenda, they need to know that we’ve chosen to be in the room or in the house with them, over all the other interests competing for our time.

Sacred Trusts—Sacred Memories 

Here’s something I want you to think about in the days ahead.

When was the last time you did something really silly with or in front of your children? When was the last time you did something totally unexpected and spontaneous that your children remember to this day? Like jumping in the swimming pool with your clothes on, or “accidentally” spraying whipped cream all over your face, starting a pillow fight in the bedroom, or splashing in the puddles after a summer rain?

When was the last time you set aside all the “important” things you had to do and followed your children to wherever they wanted you to go? Have they asked you to do something recently? Maybe you’ve said no so many times that they don’t bother to ask anymore. I hope that’s not the case.

Think about this: How many more of those moments will you have? How long will it be before other interests and demands on your children’s lives preempt the opportunities for you to do things together, to listen to their hearts as you spend the day together, and to talk about the things they need to know—like how wonderfully they have been created?

Since my oldest son’s death in 2005, I have talked to hundreds of parents who have lost children to accidents, illness, or violence. Every one of those parents, including me, wishes they could spend a few more minutes with their child, doing something fun together. The Bible says that tomorrow is not promised to us. We need to take advantage of the opportunities we have today. Life is what happens when we’re making other plans.

How long will it be before the playroom—and most of the other rooms in your house as well—will be neat, tidy and in perfect order, noticeably devoid of the laughing and chattering personalities of God’s little angels? Will the walls of those once sacred places be filled with regrets, or with wonderful memories? Will you see the fingerprints of God in every nook and cranny from His precious little messengers, or will you see only a memorial of might-have-been?

I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now. I don’t know what important stuff you have in front of you. I don’t know what or who is bothering you or trying to set your schedule for tomorrow or days ahead. But I wonder if we all need to do a better job of listening to that gentle whisper from a God who daily reminds us to enjoy the sacred moments with those we love—with dear friends, with those who need us, and especially with our precious children. They are moments we will look back on with either regret or a smile.

Either way, the memory will last forever.

Posted in Fatherhood | 7 Comments

Why Positive Thinking is Important

positive thinking

Life is challenging. I wish I could tell you that you’ll always be on top of the mountain. The reality is that there are days when nothing will go right, when not only will you not be on top, you may not even be able to figure out which way is up. Do yourself a favor, and don’t make it any harder than it has to be. In those moments:

  • Be careful how you speak to yourself
  • Be careful how you think of yourself
  • Be careful how you conduct yourself
  • Be careful how you develop yourself

The great American novelist Henry James directed, “Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.” James could have been a football coach. The first thing you have to do when you’re trying to turn around a football franchise around from a loser to a winner is create the belief that you can win. Most of the time the talent is already there to accomplish great things, but there is no belief that it will happen. This is why positive thinking is so important.

The Powerful Mind

Our minds are powerful instruments and should not be taken lightly. I don’t exactly know how it works, but I have heard about prisoners of war who returned home after being released and were able to play golf or perform other skills they didn’t have prior to their solitary confinement. While they had been held captive, they had merely visualized what they wanted to accomplish. Obviously, the idea of mind over matter has some merit.

Visualize Success

All football teams rely on visualization to increase their chances of success. Players visualize in different ways. Some have the ability to just see a diagram in the playbook and visualize themselves in that situation. Others have to see the play on videotape, while still others have to actually do it on the field. That’s what we work on in practice. We run the plays that we will use in the game and fine-tune them against out “look squad.” The look squad consists of our backup players, whose function is to simulate the other team’s techniques as closely as possible so our first-team players see exactly how our plays will work during a game. By running a play several times during the week, and seeing it successfully executed, we can visualize exactly how it’s going to look on Sunday. If we’ve been sharp in practice, then we have confidence that it will go the same way during the game.

Discipline Your Thoughts

Being disciplined in your approach to each day of your life and accomplishing the things you dream of starts by disciplining your thoughts. Focus on those things that you want to occur, not those that you do not want to occur. You won’t always rise to the level of the expectations you have for yourself, but you will never be able to rise above the imaginary ceiling you construct in your mind. How high do you want to set those expectations? How high would you like to go?

Posted in Encouragement | 9 Comments

Rules for Arguing with Your Wife

arguing with your wife

It’s natural for married couples to have disagreements from time to time. Lauren and I frequently have “discussions” on whose opinion is right. If you find yourself arguing with your wife, there are some boundaries you should set so you don’t make matters worse and ruin your relationship.

Posted in Marriage | 10 Comments

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