The Wisdom of Derek Dooley

I have had both stitches and staples a few times since marrying my lovely wife over eleven years ago.  No, it was never her fault.  I’ve had a few of minor procedures that required stitches and there was the time that I needed staples after nearly decapitating myself while going to the bathroom (read about it here  Did that really happen?  Yes.  Was it humiliating?  Yes.  Have I gotten over it? Almost.

Because this has happened a few times, I know what will happen the next time.  And there will be a next time.  When it is time for the stitches/staples to be removed, my wife will beg me to let her do it.  I’ll say no.  She’ll beg some more.  I’ll say no.  She’ll beg some more.  I’ll continue to say no. 

The reason that she thinks she is capable of removing my stitches and staples is that she used to work for a veterinarian.  In this role, she assisted in surgeries and treatments and in removing stitches/staples from dogs.  Since she did it for dogs, she thinks I should allow her the opportunity to do it for me.  I’ve got two main problems with this.

First, I’m not a dog.  Sure, I have dog-like tendencies at times.  When I’m in a new place I walk around a few times before sitting down.  When someone is eating and I’m not, I look at them hoping that they will offer me some.  And when my rear end itches I drag it all over the carpet.  But I’m not a dog.  (Just kidding about the rear-end dragging thing….as far as you know).

Second, I’ve seen the joy she takes in squeezing my back zit.  I know this is gross, but I have  a bump/zit/pimple of nastiness on my back that won’t go away.  We can get all of the pus out of it and think it is gone, then BAM!–it’s back with a vengeance.  I think Kristy likes this.  She likes knowing that every couple of months or so I’ll ask her to inflict the pain of a thousand jackals on my back.  She revels in it.  I can only imagine what kind of joy she would take in “accidentally” tweaking a staple imbedded into my skull.  No thanks.

I know that she has the basic knowledge to remove staples/stitches, but I prefer someone who works on humans to work on me since I am a human.  I don’t want someone who should be able to do it, I want someone who has proven that he or she is able to do it. 

This is kind of how I felt when I heard the announcement that Derek Dooley had been hired as the head coach of my beloved University of Tennessee football team.

Philip Fulmer served as the head coach from 1992-2008 before being fired during the 2008 season.  He accomplished a lot, including a national championship in 1998, and I am grateful for the memories.  As he spoke with passion about his team during the press when his dismissal was announced, I cried like I had lost my best friend.  Real tears, big tears.  The kind of tears I usually only cry while watching the movie Click.  I know that Click is an Adam Sandler movie, but if you are a man and your eyes don’t moisten during that movie you may want to hit the yellow brick road in search of a heart.

After Fulmer came the brief, one season era/error of Lane Kiffin.  He accomplished very little before bolting for the left coast.  It was sad really, to go from someone who loved the University of Tennessee so much to someone who didn’t seem to care at all. 

This is when Derek Dooley came in.  I didn’t know much about him, except that he is the son of an SEC coaching legend and that after being the head coach at Louisiana Tech for three years his record was 17-20.  I expected the Athletic Director to hire a proven, winning coach not the son of a proven, winning coach who had a sub-.500 as a coach in a much weaker conference.  I expected him to hire a proven coach who had previously shown the ability to bring a football program back from mediocrity, not a coach who should or might be able to do so.

Then I started listening to him and I liked what I heard.  He has a compelling combination of intelligence and wit that few other coaches possess.  I mean, how many other coaches have the ability both to reference details of World War II and then make an off-the-cuff comment about Nuke Laloosh a few weeks later?  Answer: not many.

It wasn’t just his humor though that made me really buy in to his leadership.  It was a philosophy that I heard him speak about several times concerning his team as they were going through a rough stretch of losses.  I’ve boiled it down to a few words for better memorization.  It helped me, maybe it will help you.  Here it is:

Focus on the process, not the results.

Simple, right?  In theory, yes.  In practice, no.

We know what we want the desired outcome to be.  We obsess over the right things happening at the right time.  We want “this” much money in the bank by the time we are “this” old.  We want love to blossom during “this” particular period of our lives.  We want “this” many people to attend our church services and “this” many people to be reading our blog by “this” particular date. 

We want the results that we want.  But when we focus on the results, they rarely come.

Our focus should be on the process.  The little things we do day by day by day must have our attention if any progress is going to be made when it comes to our goals.  There are too many independent variables in play to accurately predict the exactness of particular results.  The process is what we can control.  And if we focus on the process, results will come.

This is especially true in spiritual matters.  We can want people to be born again, but saving people is not my job.  That is the realm of Christ.  My responsibility is proclaiming the gospel—it is Jesus who saves.  We can want people to become more committed to following Jesus, but changing people is not my job.  My responsibility is to faithfully proclaim God’s Word—it is Jesus who transforms.  We can desire to have a certain number of people attend our church services, but growing the church is not my job.  My responsibility is to pray, preach, love, and pastor—it is Jesus who builds his church.

Derek Dooley hasn’t even been on the job a year yet, but I like what he is trying to do.  I also like that he has helped me without even knowing it by giving me a nugget of wisdom that I have been repeating to myself again and again.  Maybe you need to do the same.

Focus on the process, not the results.

(Have you had difficulty doing this, too?  Or is it just me?  Please tell me it’s not just me?)

And just for “funsies,” here’s a video of some of Derek Dooley’s greatest hits:


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