Life Happened for Sean Adams

Photo courtesy of AM 1300 THE ZONE‏ @am1300thezone

Austin media personality Sean Adams passed away yesterday at the age of 46. That could be one of those impersonal headlines that you see and think nothing of. For many people in the Austin area it is very personal. It is for me.

I recently wrote about change. Yesterday things changed for a lot of us.

Sean and I were not close friends, but we knew each other and liked each other. I went to church with him for many years and always admired him. There were many exceptional things about him. He was a great son, husband, father, and friend. He took all of those roles and responsibilities seriously. He was a man of faith, and he had a remarkable breadth and depth about him. He had talent coupled with a terrific work ethic. He and Chip Brown in the mornings were a special team discussing sports. There was true chemistry there, and it was great to listen to. It was a morning staple for many of us. It was about more than just sports – it was sports generously seasoned with wit and wisdom.

I had lunch with Sean a couple of times at his favorite restaurant, Cover 3. We talked about our families, business, and he encouraged me when I was writing my book. He was also an encouragement to our children. When I got the stunning news yesterday about his passing, I looked at my text message history with him. There is nothing profound there, but I will always treasure it.

My heart goes out to Karen, Damon, Alex, and Sean’s mother and siblings. I also grieve for Chip Brown, Mike Hardge, Mike Weigand, Anthony Williams, Thomas Graham, Geoff Ketchum, and all of the other many people who shared a close bond with Sean. He had a lot of true and genuine friends all across the country. You cannot say that about many people.

My lasting memories of Sean will be his faith and his heart for elevating others to higher planes. He was famous for the wisdom in his many sayings. They will stick with me.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “The dream is free, the hustle is sold separately. Go to work.”
  • “Do something good for the world today, because the people who are making it worse aren’t taking the day off.”
  • “Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.”

Photo courtesy of Enrique Garza‏ @goodstuffcvms

He and I also shared a perspective on the value of sports. He spoke often of the huddle. The huddle is sacred, he would say. It is the one place where northerner and southerner, rich and poor, black and white, conservative and liberal, come together, put their arms around each other, and bond for a common goal. They sweat and bleed together, and special things happen.

Sean often said: “Life happens for those who show up.”

Sean showed up.

Life happened for him.

Thanks for showing up for all of us, brother. Rest in Peace.

You Have Three Chocies

RSS-Huddle_1978As a high school sophomore I sat on a yellow school bus with my football team and wiped away the tears as I listened to one of the greatest life lessons that I would ever hear. We had come so close to winning this game. We were going to win. We should have won. We had them. We were on the one yard line about to score. All that stood between us and an undefeated season (and a district championship) was one fumble on the goal line.

The fumble happened.

We lost by 3 points.

Into this bitter disappointment our head coach, Richard Bethell, taught one of those lessons that athletics seems especially suited to teach. He said, “Men, when you face defeat, failure, and disappointment you have three choices.” He laid out our choices:

  1. You can quit

  2. You can make excuses or blame others, or

  3. You can go to work

Often the profound is simple. Sitting on that bus all I could think about was football. Many times since then, however, the wisdom of these three choices has fit my life.

I am capable of each choice from time to time. I prefer #3. I try to avoid #2 at all costs. I consider #1 only if the situation makes it clear that I have been pursuing something that is not worth my effort or is bad for me — but I am constitutionally not a quitter.

After my senior year Coach Bethell sent a letter to all of us seniors who played offensive line for him that season. As we went out into our adult lives he reiterated this lesson we had learned two years earlier. He spoke of adversity we had overcome in both our freshman and senior years. Here is an excerpt from the letter he wrote us:


Earlier in the letter he called that loss our sophomore year his “greatest loss as a coach.” He had felt that sting as deeply as we had.

So the lesson remains with me in life to this day. I hope you will make it your lesson as well. When you face defeat in your life you have a decision to make about your future — your Forward Story.

You have three choices. Which will it be?