Susie’s Story

A critical doer keeps risk and failure in context with opportunity and success 

If you can’t tell from previous posts, I’m very proud of my children and the fact that they are critical doers.  I’ve written about my two sons, and it’s time to introduce you to my daughter Susie.  She’s coming home from college tomorrow and anticipation of her arrival made me reflective about some things I truly admire and respect about her.

Susie is a swimmer at Gardner-Webb University.  She was a natural in the water from the time she started swimming at age 7.  Susie is disciplined, dedicated, driven, and competitive doesn’t begin to describe her intense desire to excel.  Most of all, she loves the sport and her passion for both practices and meets is inspirational to me.

As she progressed through the age groups, she posted times that had her on track for recruiting into some of the top college programs…until the injuries began.  Susie suffered a rotator cuff injury as a high school junior that effectively stopped her progress in high school and her senior year was purely rehab.  Still, Coach Mike Simpson at Gardner-Webb took a leap of faith and gave her a spot on the roster.

This is where the story of a critical doer turns remarkable.  Susie was undecided about what she wanted to do in college (besides swim) until the injury.  During the process of physical therapy, she discovered her calling was athletic training where she could help other athletes deal with physical setbacks.

Despite even more injuries and challenges that have hampered her as a swimmer, she has used this life experience to become even more deeply committed to her calling.  She is president of her professional club of athletic trainers and diligently works clinical rotations to gain practical experience while sharing her own story to encourage others.

John Maxwell wrote a book called Failing Forward where he characterized failure as the necessary and iterative process to success.  Some people can only look forward in a narrow field of view that prevents them from seeing a failure in context and using it as a learning experience.  Susie is doing better physically this year and it’s still to be seen how well she performs as a swimmer, but in no way has she looked at the setbacks as failures.  My daughter had strength of character to maintain perspective through adversity and recognize the roadblocks she faced in competitive swimming were actually road signs pointing her towards her calling for a career.

As much as we’d like to deceive ourselves otherwise, we all fail.  But out of our failures often comes great good.  We’ve seen it in business…Play Doh, saccharine, the adhesive on a post-it note were all failures in their intended purpose but achieved commercial success by finding other applications.  I couldn’t be prouder of my daughter for having the strength of character to persevere and turn an injury into a life calling.

Do you have a situation at home or work that you currently view as a failure and are thinking of giving up?  If so, I encourage you to reevaluate the situation looking not only at the original goal but what you’ve learned along the way that could lead to success or creation of new opportunities, just like Susie did.  It’s what a critical doer would…do!

Updated: December 17, 2014 — 3:29 am