Book Review: Wins, Losses, and Lessons
By: Lou Holtz
Harper Collins Publishers
Living in Oklahoma I have to be careful not to say Lou Holtz’s name too loud as it often ruffles the feathers of our local college football fans, mainly from the ones rooting for the team from Norman. Despite this, I did actually suggest this book to my good friend Chad and even took the risk of uttering Coach Holtz’s name in public at a local high school basketball game. The irony in this situation is twofold: first had my friend Chad not recommended I try a free audiobook app I may never have come across this book in the first place and second, I think this is the first time I was able to suggest a book to Chad that he had not yet read. To say Chad reads a lot is an understatement.
Sometimes in life you need a good dose of wisdom, or perhaps another way to say it, is a swift kick in the pants. I have reached a stage in life where two of my four children have just completed college, our third child is headed to college in the fall, and our youngest will start his senior year of high school in August of this year (all of these things Lord willing). Honestly, life is kind of weird for me right now as I am in this odd transition phase that encompasses many moments of utter joy combined with small episodes of cold sweats. Don’t misunderstand, I am looking forward to quality time with my beautiful bride and I know in my head the goal has always been to raise our children to be responsible people who can function in the world, but explaining that to my heart is at times difficult.
So, what does a middle-aged man do when he needs a little inspiration or perhaps direction? Well, why not listen to an audio book about another man’s life and just for insurance why not make it a book written and read by successful football coach Lou Holtz? The story laid out by the author starts with an attention-getting account of a field goal attempt late in a game and then candidly chronicles the ups and downs of a Catholic man navigating the ever-changing landscape of coaching college football. Be assured, he also talks a lot about his wife and children in this account and I am sure each reader can find some good advice within the pages or audio tracks of this book.
On the official Catholic Man Show Technical Read Scale**, I rate this book at a level 2 as it is a leisurely read, but is full of important life lessons for success in both family and career life. For me this book is well paired with The Catholic Man Show episode #264 titled Virtues in the Job Market. I especially enjoyed the part of Coach Holtz’s story where he elaborated on what he calls the “do right rule.” Essentially, this is the rule that he held as the standard for himself, his players, and I assume his children. The summary of Lou Holtz’s “do right rule” is no matter how tough the situation or how difficult it might be, do what is right. Be a man of your word, keep your promises, act justly, and accept consequences with dignity, and of course David Niles-like humility.
Another one of my favorite parts of this book was when the author expanded on his family decision making before taking a new job. You see, he had a great career opportunity offered to him, but before he would accept the job, he had each of his family members go to a secluded, quiet place, by themselves so they could pray for 30 minutes to discern if this was the right path for him and his family. For some of you this is probably second nature, but I am not sure if I would have had the prudence if I was in the same situation. Hopefully I would have, but at the very least now I have gained some additional wisdom.
As I listened to the five plus hours of this literary work, I think the overarching theme that struck me was honesty. Coach Holtz was able to present the story of his life in an authentic manner by highlighting his ability to acknowledge his mistakes and errors, while at the same time, finding a correct path forward. I think most of us know by now that life can get confusing and downright difficult at times and the decisions we have to make sometimes are certainly not easy. What I do know is that through prayer we can find the answers and further, by listening to someone who has more life experience, we can certainly gain useful tools for success. I think if a reader gives this book a try, they will not be disappointed and will learn how to persevere in a world where some days it is fourth down on the goal line with one second left, and it seems everything is riding on the right play call.
By: Kent Keithly, husband and father
***Regarding The Catholic Man Show technical read scale: A 3 out of 10 is a leisurely read that could be read in a couple of weeks, an 8 out of 10 is a more technical read which requires more time and often requires looking up definitions of words to clearly understand the author, and finally a 10/10 is an extremely technical read that requires a significant amount of time to complete the book, as well as, extra time to look up further explanations of the topic, definitions, and likely requires that some pages be read more than once to grasp the content.