Sunday, October 9, 2011

This week's Pep Talk: "Too Few to Mention"

I’m a big Frank Sinatra fan and especially love his hit song, “My Way.” The song was written for Sinatra in 1968 and he recorded it early the next year and as they say, the rest is history. For whatever reason, the words the legendary singer uses about halfway through the song have always resonated with me: “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption.”

To me, those words have always be a good reminder that life rarely goes as planned. We have regrets for things we should have done, but didn’t; things we shouldn’t have done, but did and regrets for whatever lies between the extremes. The Oxford American dictionary defines regret as “a feeling of sorrow, annoyance or disappointment.” Ever felt that way? You bet, each and everyone of us has at various points in our lives.

Just the other night I was introducing one of the greatest players in University of Colorado football history. The California native grew up on the tough streets of south-central Los Angeles before venturing east to make his mark with the Buffaloes. In the three years Darian Hagan was CU’s starting quarterback, 1989-1991, the Buffs won three straight Big 8 Conference titles and a national title in 1990. Currently the school’s recruiting coordinator, the 41-year-old was a featured guest at Coach Bill McCartney’s Football Feast and Fix. It was my job to exalt Hagan’s great career which ultimately landed him in the school’s athletic hall of fame.

I have one regret from the evening. I was so focused on the statistical accomplishments of one of college football’s great dual-threat quarterbacks that I totally spaced out one of his most noble achievements: he blew out a knee in the 1991 Orange Bowl game but worked his butt off and was ready for the start of the regular season less than nine months later. Despite not being fully healed from the patella tendon surgery, the cat-quick signal-caller guided the Buffs to their third straight conference title ending his career as the school’s all-time total offense leader.

I regret forgetting the impressive bounce back from injury in the introduction. I regret a lot of things through 53 years on this planet: divorces breaking up families; jobs being eliminated; bad decisions adversely affecting others and self. The question becomes, what to do when we’re feeling sorrowful, annoyed or disappointed?

Take action! Seek out the person afflicted and earnestly apologize; eradicate the unproductive behavior and vow to not stay locked in the debilitating clutches of regret for too long - it can wear us out! I called Hagan and apologized the next morning.

One of the most important facts of life we must face on an almost daily basis is whether we’re going to become victims of the circumstances of our lives or students of the experiences. Choose the latter, stay focused on thoughts, words and actions honoring, nurturing and adding value to the communities we serve and refuse to allow regrets to define us. Remember Sinatra’s wise words: “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.”

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