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Kendall Fletcher Blog: On taking responsibility for your actions

This Saturday I will be giving a speech and I thought I would share a snippet of that speech with all of you for this weeks blog.

“…Not knowing what to do I went to my dorm room and in tears wrote an extremely long  and emotional email to my dad, venting my frustrations and explaining to him, how it wasn’t fair.  I lost my starting spot because I had one bad game.  What am I suppose to be, perfect?  What about all the games before that when I had played great.  Do they not count for anything?  I mean how was I suppose to keep my starting position if Anson (Dorrance, University of North Carolina head coach) believed in the freshmen more than me?  As I sent the email, I felt a big weight lift off my shoulders, if nothing else, it just felt good to get out all that frustration that I was feeling and I was fairly confident my dad would have some words of wisdom to help me figure out how to set Anson straight.  Let’s just say Anson wasn’t the one that was going to get set straight.

“The next day I received an email from my dad that would change my life for ever.  He very simply said the following to me.

“Kendall, Anson is not the problem here, you are.  Sure you have had some good games, but your last game wasn’t the best and you are going to have to realize you’re only as good as your last performance.  You cannot rest on your laurels.  Even outside the soccer field, when you get a job, your boss is going to expect that you keep performing and keep producing.  You have to be able to bring your best every day and every time you step on the field.  That is never going to change with Anson or in life, so get used to it.  And as far as Anson believing in the freshman more than you, that is no excuse for how poorly you are playing or losing your starting position.  What Anson believes doesn’t matter.  What matters is whether YOU believe you are better than that freshmen and deserve to be out there and if you do, then prove it, not to Anson, but to yourself.”

“And he ended with a phrase that would hang in my locker the rest of my college career.  ‘Quit being such a girl, get pissed, and fight!’

“As you can imagine when I read the email, I was a little taken aback.  My dad had never spoken to me like that before. He didn’t sympathize with me at all.  He didn’t even say he thought I was better than the freshman or that Anson was being even just a little unfair.  In fact he took everyone out of the equation and put it all back on me.  Now to help you understand the kind of impact this email had on me, it’s important that you know something about my dad.  He rarely speaks without a great deal of thought behind what he says, and he rarely gives his opinions unless it is something he feels is of value to discuss or talk about.  So when I received this email I knew I had to deal with what it said, and what it said was that if I wanted to change my circumstances I was going to have to deal with me.

“What my dad was telling me was that I had to take responsibility for my mistakes.  They were no one else’s fault but my own and if I wanted to prove that I should be out there on that field I had to prove it to myself first and foremost.  What he was telling me may have seemed a bit harsh, but after getting over the initial shock of it, I realized just how empowering what he told me was.  He was basically telling me that my success on the field or in life wasn’t going to be determined by what others thought of me, but by what I thought of myself.  It wasn’t about how many mistakes I made or if I failed, but how I would take responsibility for them and learn from them rather than making excuses for them.  By telling me I was the problem, he showed me that if I was willing to accept responsibility for and learn from my mistakes and failures then I would also be the solution.  From this point on in my life I realized  that even though I wasn’t always going to be in control of what happened to me, I would always be in control of how I responded to things in life and THAT more than what anyone thinks of me or any mistake I might make will determine who and what I am going to be in life.   And when you realize that, you realize that you can face just about anything that comes your way.”

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