Life’s Challenges do not Define You… What Defines You is How you Respond.

After one episode in the series, The Last Dance, I had a visceral response when Michael Jordan broke down after having won the championship… yet his father was not there to celebrate with him.  

I do not know if I can find a word that can espouse the respect I have for the documentary, The Last Dance, but if I had to guess, it would be ‘perfection.’ The story of Michael Jordan’s career, featured recently on ESPN, inspired the title of this article.

Episode six touched on the murder of Michael Jordan’s father, and by the conclusion of episode number seven, I had a personal epiphany that I could not let pass. The episode featured the Chicago Bull’s fourth NBA championship, noting that it was played on Father’s Day, 1996, and how it was the first championship Michael Jordan won without the presence of his father.

His dad was with him, side-by-side when he hugged the first championship trophy the Bulls won. That is how the episode ends, and a moment later I drafted the title of this article.

I realized that unlike Michael, who had two loving parents and a fond relationship with his dad, I had not had my father in tow with me for any athletic achievement at any point in my life. From the time I was seventeen until his death in 2012 (twenty-five years later), I had not seen him face to face. Our estranged relationship ended without the opportunity to gain perspective or any reason why he wrote me out of his life.

But then I thought about my son, my forthcoming book about fatherhood, and how I plan to respond to the situation life threw at me. My life will end on better terms when I leave this world for the next, and my son will know his father loved him every single day of his life.

And I’m hoping to put off my exit from life’s stage for several more decades, for the record.

When we, as fathers, work to provide a better life for our children, we are not allowing ourselves to be defined by the sins of our fathers. We are making a conscious decision to be loving parents, dedicated spouses, and responsible adults. We are resetting the course for the next generation and we should take pride in that achievement. It is a goal worthy of purpose.

We, as fathers,  will not let life events define us, whether that represents a single tragedy or a decade of disappointment. Our dedication as committed fathers will define our response to past transgressions, and we will move forward to raise the bar for the next generation.

That is the purpose behind the book, The Father Apprentice, and I invite you to come along for the ride when it is released in the Autumn of 2021 by Familius Publishing.

Onwards and upwards,

Kendall Smith

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