Those of you who know me know that I am a HUGE Tennessee Titans fan. From the day Bud Adams announced that his team, the Houston Oilers, was moving to Tennessee I’ve been on board. I’ve worn their apparel, watched every game on television, travelled to countless games to support the team in person, driven to numerous cities to meet players and get autographs, and transformed my garage into a Titans man cave.  I love my team!

What you may not know is that the Titans experienced great success in their first five years in Nashville winning 56 games while losing only 24. The Coliseum didn’t witness a loss in over two seasons.  The Titans went to the playoffs four out of those five years, were the number one seed in the playoffs twice, went to the AFC Championship game twice, and even played in  Superbowl XXXIV(that’s 34 for all of you non-Romans).  Yes, it was amazing to be a new Titans fan!

However, what you probably do know is that we lost that Superbowl to an upstart St. Louis Rams team that would one day come to be known as “The Greatest Show on Turf.” To this day the image of Kevin Dyson unsuccessfully stretching toward the goal line as time expired still haunts me. I can never forgive Mike Jones for making the best open field tackle in Superbowl history, and I still find it difficult to hear Kurt Warner give analysis on his various radio and television appearances.

I wish I could say that moment was the most painful part of being a Titans fan, but I can’t. You see since 2003 we have been one of the worst teams in the league most often losing far more games than we win. Our overall record since 2003 is 117-139. We’ve only been to the playoffs four times since those first five years but have also been dead last in our division four times. In the last 16 years we’ve had five different head coaches. It’s been bad…really bad.

So when we finally got back to the AFC title game this year I was beyond excited! But our team was outmatched and outplayed. We were beaten in all phases of the game by a superior opponent with a superior head coach.  But while I was watching the game I was reminded of how my Titans have taught and reinforced valuable lessons over the years; lessons that to this point in my life have only been learned through martial arts training. These lessons I feel are absolutely essential for success and enjoyment in life. Furthermore I guarantee that our Taekwondo America students no matter their age will learn these valuable life-skills as they train in our program. Here they are:

Lesson 1 – Sometimes the opponent is better than you.

This is one that most of us understand. No matter how much you train or how hard you try or how much you believe sometimes your opponent is just better. Life isn’t an underdog movie in which the main character emerges victorious over a superior opponent. Does it happen sometimes? Of course! But it doesn’t happen often which is why those movies are so good.

Lesson 2 – Sometimes your best isn’t good enough.

Ouch! That one hurts. Since we were kids people have told us to “just do your best.” Well sometimes that isn’t good enough. Sometimes we still fail to reach our goal. So many times I’ve had to talk to a student who didn’t pass a belt testing. When you don’t break a board or mess up your form it’s disappointing but easy to accept. But when you perform your pattern technically correct, survive your sparring rounds, break your boards, and still don’t pass it’s tough. It hurts. But sometimes we just aren’t quite there and need more time to improve, and that’s why we have lesson 3.

Lesson 3 – You are going to lose more than you win.

Why does winning feel so good? Because it doesn’t happen all the time. Most of us will experience failure, difficulty,  and struggle far more often than we experience success. At Church’s Taekwondo America we love to recognize and celebrate with you when you are successful, but we are also the first to support you, hold you up, and push you forward when you are facing adversity. Which brings me to the next lesson.

Lesson 4 – You need a team.

Martial arts may seem like an individual sport. Yes, our students are ultimately evaluated on their individual skill. However, it is the team of people around a student who help them to develop those skills. Your instructors teach you the techniques and strategies while motivating and inspiring you to push yourself beyond where you think you can go. The other students train with you, motivate you, spar with you, and challenge you.

Lesson 5 – You must learn to positively deal with winning and losing.

If we all experience success and failure in life what makes one person different from another? Why do some people receive respect and adoration and others receive contempt? It is the way that they handle their successes and failures.

It is absolutely essential that winners win graciously. Bragging, strutting, showboating, and patting yourself on the back will immediately result in distaste and malice. Understand that while you were successful today that you have at times struggled. Recognize that your challenger has put in the same time, energy, and effort to get to this moment. Remember that success is short-lived.

We must also learn to lose gracefully. Temper-tantrums are not cool when you’re two, but they are extremely unbecoming and will instantly destroy the respect of others when you are an adult. Congratulate the victors. Realize that your hard work and effort got you here and even more hard work and effort should lead to more positive results. Use setbacks to fuel your competitive fire.