When I was in elementary school, maybe 5th grade, I tried to play little league football. I was very small, had small bones, and was not very quick or fast. I was really not very good at any position. I tried but just always got run over or pushed aside. The team I played on was a winning team, and the coaches were serious about winning.
Dad had played football from an early age through a couple of years in college (he didn’t finish, went to work). He had been a good offensive lineman. He had made extra money Friday nights by scouting for linemen for some colleges.
Of course, I wanted to impress Dad, but I just wasn’t any good at the sport. One day, after a game in which I was just sent in for about 2 plays (as required by the league), Dad asked me why I didn’t get to play. I said, “I guess I didn’t hustle enough in practice.”
Sometime later, Dad told me, “Will, you know, I learned something from you. I had been complaining to all my friends about how the coaches wouldn’t let you play, how they weren’t fair to you. But when I asked you, you made no excuses: You just said you didn’t hustle enough. No one really wants to hear all those complaints and excuses.” It was a kind of bittersweet compliment.