Champions May Fall ... But Real Champions Rise Again

“Here I am … I’m supposed to be this great role model, and now I’ve messed it all up and turned my world upside down.”

Head down, he paused to gather his emotions and then said, “I guess I won’t be speaking to any more young people, and I’m sure the media will have a real blast with this!”

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit with a professional athlete, who’s truly a Champion in my eyes!

… How can I for certain say, he could rise again?

… When he’d gotten into a financial challenge and near collapse?

… Made massive compromises, almost destroying his marriage?

I can say that because he came asking what a true Champion would do in this situation. Ask for help. With the attitude of, ‘I’m powerless’.

With integrity and humility onboard, it’s in moments like these that the real Champion within is born or maybe best said… born again. It’s a time for the resurrection of that spirit fueled (real you) to step up with humility and gratefulness.

Instead of protecting their ego, real Champions embrace their “fallings” and brokenness, owning their faults. They allow it to become their teacher/guide towards true virtue of character. They surrender and allow these virtues to build and re-build them into a lasting and “stay the course” Champion.

You see, resurrecting the Champion in you does not mean there’ll be no challenges or no mistakes.  Even horrible mistakes can be made by Champions! But they handle these things with great concern, great humility, and great integrity. 

Integrity and humility are the pillar characteristics of all Champions. It’s what their ‘inner’ superstructure of continual hope is built upon. Let’s look at both.


Humility is defined as:

  • An attitude of spiritual modesty that comes from understanding our place in the larger order of things.
  • Humility is the ability to view yourself accurately as an individual with talents as well as flaws while being void of arrogance and low self-esteem.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.”

C.S. Lewis 

“True humility does not know that it’s humble. If it did, it would be proud from the contemplation of so fine a virtue.” Martin Luther

Conversations between Oprah and Dolly Parton on humility…

Dolly, “I think one has to be careful not to get arrogant with that faith, because I think, you know, if you don’t humble yourself, God will do it for you.”

Oprah, “Absolutely! And when God does it, it will bring you to your knees.”


What’s integrity? 

Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values; doing the right thing when no one can see you.

“As I’ve said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself. Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, honesty, and humility.” Nelson Mandela

“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to be the truth. To do the right thing because, simply, it’s right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” W. Clement Stone 

“Power really is a test of character. In the hands of a person of integrity, it’s of tremendous benefit. But in the hands of a tyrant, it always causes destruction.” John Maxwell

I had great compassion for my client and asked him if he’d like to walk through this revealing challenge with humility and integrity?

Through remorseful tears he nodded, yes.

I could tell his heart was nodding as well.

He then asked me if I’d share, what I shared with him in our sessions (publicly) and as quick as possible. He didn’t want anyone else to face something such as this without the tools that helped him rise again.

The first impulse this broken and exposed Champion leader longed to share, was that he wanted to help others rise anew and lead the way, through his brokenness and surrender to integrity.

He inspired this week’s blog.

After a long stare at the floor, he finally looked up and said, “None of us ever plan to end up like me. I know there are others out there in similar situations. I can’t allow my shame, or my bankrupt character hold me prisoner forever. I now know that humiliation presents two choices … hold onto defensive, rationalizing, anger … or surrender. But I get it. Only surrender is the path to freedom, hope, and abundance.”

“Well said,” I thought!

Let’s see how and why, real Champions rise again when they make mistakes, fall, or suddenly run out of excuses and efforts to deflect when secrets are known.


“When I kept silent about my fall, my body wasted away. Day and night displeasure was heavy upon me, and my vitality and strength drained away as with the burning heat of summer.”

David, King of Israel

“I cannot even imagine getting myself into this position, hurting my wife, the way I have, but I know I must avoid the temptation to cover up or tell lies. My dad taught me that ‘lies beget lies’!”

I nodded with understanding and wanted to help him.

He wiped away tears with his shirt sleeve, unsuccessful in regulating their flow and said, “I’ll do the right thing! I promise I will. No matter what it costs me.”

I let the quiet speak before I continued.

Then I said, “There are several pieces to the first step. First, you must be willing to acknowledge poor choices, bad decisions, or even mistakes that were driven by a faultline in your character.”

He nodded with healthy shame, still attempting to blink back his tears.

“Secondly, you must have true remorse. Most many people confuse remorse and regret.”

I paused making sure he was with me, and I continued.

“Regret is wishing something very disappointing hadn’t happened. And all you really need and wish for is a ‘do over’. But remorse is true sorrow for something done or choices made. And also acknowledging and feeling the impact it had on others more than the impact on yourself.”

His stare was laser focused as I went on.

“Because of the remorse I see, and the care you have for how you’ve hurt your wife, disappointed your family, and felt it might influence the youth you’ve mentored … I believe you’ve completed that part of it as well.”

Still anxious he relaxed a bit, he waited intently for what I’d say next.

“And here you are, asking for help. We will make a plan. A plan filled with humility and integrity … and you WILL rise again my friend!”

All three of these pieces are completed as soon as possible by true Champions. You’ll not find them “protecting others” by keeping their missteps hidden.

The truth is, those who say such things are not protecting others, they’re protecting themselves. But they can certainly make a great case for needing to protect others.

Champions step up and say…

I’ll tell the truth of

what I’ve done.

I’ll be remorseful.

I’ll make and execute a plan.

I’ll do whatever is needed

to get myself on track.

They know that anything less than that, regardless of how they spin it, is continuing to live the lie. They know that’s a lack of willingness to be humble and lacking ‘core deep’ integrity.

Does it require courage?

Absolutely! But I’m a firm believer, that when we’re able, willing, and ready to lay it all on the line, it provides the opportunity to rise again.

Even higher than before!

Humiliation presents two paths.

  • One that leads to defensive rationalization, creating a form of narcissistic “I know best” style compassion, which isn’t love driven compassion at all. I did it and I’ll deal with it. I just got caught. I know best for me.
  • The other eventually leads to the reaping of fulfillment and favor, by the sowing of selfless empathy and contriteness of heart, driven by surrender to the wisdom needed, to truly convey a sense of brokenness and remorse.  

Champions live with a sense of brokenness for the broken. So, they’ll never miss a need that once was them. “Who better to serve and to heal,” says a Champion.    

Yes, it’s hard if you’re there or you ever find yourself there. But you can/will do it. And you’ll rise even higher.

Real Champions learn (by embracing the brokenness that only humility bring), this is their chance, their moment, to rise again. Trusting truth to be their door to every freedom. Real Champions know that surrender unleashes an unseen power … one that will lead their hearts to new hopes and new dreams ONLY found in surrender!

“Let us then with confidence

draw near to the throne of grace,

that we may receive mercy

to help us in time of need.”

Written to the Hebrews by an Apostle

Surrender … And the power, hopes, and dreams are yours!


“First pride, then the crash. And the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.”

King Solomon, King of the United Kingdom of Israel

“I will do anything to heal my marriage! We’ve worked so hard to overcome so much together.  Now she looks at me as if she doesn’t know me. I want all our closeness back! Is that even in the realm of possibility?”

I nodded with faith filled assurance. It’s the habit of my heart, to believe. He waited and then went on.

“I know what it’s like to put my head on the pillow at night in great fulfillment. I want that back so, so much. But now I also know what it’s like to lay awake at night, tossing and turning in turmoil over my choices. Can I ever get that sweet rest back?”

I gave him a compassionate nod as he continued.

“My God…I’ve ruined those kids lives I mentored,” he said shaking his head. Then with a powerless look he asked, “Did I?”

He gasped and dropped his head into his hands and sobbed.

This … was real.

After a moment of honoring his need to grieve, I leaned forward, elbows resting on my knees and gently whispered, “Yes, you can get that real Champion life back.”

More sobs as I continued softly.

“Pride is the ONLY thing that can keep us from recapturing the real Champion life and spirit,” I said leaning back to carefully continue.

“You see … pride is when you try to cover yourself.





He looked up at me, hoping for more assurance.

I smiled and told him how much I admired his courage to lay down his pride, in order to rise again as a real Champion.

We all know or should.

We are not exempt.

From poor choices.

From horrible mistakes.

From falling.

From unbelievable missteps.

But what marks a real Champion, is not someone who never experiences these. But the one who owns the pain it’s caused. Owns the shame it’s brought. Owns the chaos run riot unleashed. And owns all of it with a Champion spirit response.



In the next session he invited his wife to join us. We spoke to her about step one that he’d completed.

She was hurt and filled with disappointment, from a crushed heart and a soul stuck in dismay. He turned to her and told her he was sorry. Truly sorry for how he’d spent the first few days, making up stories and lies, covering up, defending, explaining.

She nodded numbly. But there was a faint, slight spark of hope in her eyes as he confessed what he’d done.

Then he said, “I realized that I couldn’t have a Champion life without you. I realized that if I lie to YOU … my dreams, my goals, and my visions were over!”

There were now tears and hope in both of their eyes.

“I’ll do anything … ANYTHING … to make this up to you. I’ll give up my sports career. I’ll go on national TV and tell the truth of what I’ve done.

I’ll do anything… Anything!”

Tears were now pouring from her eyes. Hope was coming alive in both their eyes. And I sensed, in their hearts too.

“My pride must go. I’ll make this up to you if you’d just give me the opportunity!”

Although she did have a list of tough things, she wanted him to do, he agreed to all of them. And immediately started fulfilling her tough requests … with love and an attitude of humility.

Just this week, she came in alone. She wanted to make sure she was doing her job in the forgiveness process, and I confirmed that she indeed was. I also encouraged her to be at his first press conference.

The press coverage was what you’d expect. Side-by-side they stood. Two Champions, standing strong. Together. All because, rising as a real Champion and husband, was more important to him … than protecting, at any cost, his pride.

The opposite of pride is not only humility, but the willingness to trust an unseen faith and the results of our surrender. And how this unseen faith moves us forward is us learning to be truly present.  

It’s then that being “truly present” becomes reality, by rejecting the overwhelming angst to formulate a response (that contributes NOTHING POSITIVE to the moment).

It’s letting the nuance of each moment manifest the truth needed, for that moment. That spirit and attitude will guide and create a ‘truly present’ moment and … a ‘Champion’ style response every time.   

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

James, an Apostle

What about you, my friend? Set aside your pride and rise again to real Champion status. You can! I believe you will!


Let’s just be brutally honest here. We all prefer to look good. And the desire to “look good” is absolutely, acceptable. If, it doesn’t diminish the integrity of our influence.

All Champions have this in common; to influence others to become their best.

To coach.

To mentor.

To encourage.

To share things that’ll, make a difference and call others into the life of their calling … to rise-up and become … real Champions too!

When our desire to protect at all costs, our strut and our image and it supersedes our desire to serve, to influence, and to make a difference; there’s a real problem! It’s then our trust in that ‘unseen power’ slowly begins draining away and the clarity that comes with it.

Strut has no substance and it’ll remain what it is … the look of ability with nothing on the shelves, a lexicon of blank pages.

“I don’t want to hurt the young people I’ve already mentored or diminish my opportunity to have any influence at all! I don’t know how to do this and make it work. Do I just have to accept that I had my moment and now it’s gone?”

I understood his concern. But I was experiencing the heart and concern of a true Champion.  As I began, I wanted to make sure my words were filled with hope and faith as I responded.

“Popular media thrives on making us believe that stepping forward and owning our mistakes, our faults, our missteps will ruin us. And in the eyes of some (but only those outlets looking for a good story of ‘shock and awe’ for their audience) it might ruin you.”

I could tell this was tough to hear but I knew he’d receive the truth. I went on.

“But, to the people you desire to influence … owning it and making it right, increases their admiration and respect.”

He nodded, hopefully. But I could still see the cringe in his furrowed brow.

I continued.

“Let the media say what the media wants to say. Their job is to edit for maximum shock and awe to sell stuff. To throw-up the latest greatest news about some celebrity that made a horribly stupid mistake. The people you want to influence will see you for…WHO YOU ARE.”

He stared at me. He knew he was out of answers and hope.

“So, step up. Tell the truth. Show true remorse. Proclaim what you’ve done. Make it right. Let the respect for you grow! And it will!”

I had more and he knew it.

“The truth is, real Champions know that these paparazzi stories, full of shock and awe and pure gossip, are what they are. Tabloid fare. Therefore, the Champion in you, needs to trust and believe that heart by heart each individual, will make their own decision. And that they’ll not do so based on or by … media-driven drama.”

He nodded with understanding as his brow relaxed.

“And if you’ll stop watching drama news, choosing instead to reading and watching the headlines from reputable sources, you’ll never know what they’re saying,” I said with a huge smile. He received it in that same spirit!

You’ve made a mistake?


Yes, you reading this.

A chink in your character has been revealed.  It’s happened to all of us. The question is … are you valuing your influence more than you value “looking good”?

You can’t protect it when, so to speak, you’re in the ‘emperor has no clothes’ reality. The sad truth is that the truth always finds you out. But if you wait till then… it’s too late.

That’s why accountability is so healthy. Few, if any of us at all, have the intuitional ability to step outside ourselves and see us or hear us as others do. As we really are.

Accountability helps establish you for a no fall future. A friend is not someone who always agrees. A friend is someone you invite to speak any truth, at any time, in a respectful way to you.

Accountability ensures that the best will happen to us and for us.

Pixar is the most successful animation studio in history. From A Bug’s Life to Toy Story 1,2,3…they’re the best! The real Champions of animation!  

Why? Pixar’s creators are accountable; the guarantee of greatness.

On each Pixar project, the principal animators are assigned characters to create. Every move must match every character’s movement and personality.

Every character’s word spoken, the same.

During this fun, grueling, tedious process, the animators have established, regularly set meetings, throughout the making of each Pixar film.

At these gatherings, each animator allows their work to be reviewed, critiqued, challenged, and corrected by all the other principal animators.

One by one they surrender their creative egos to their peers and become accountable for the best possible results for their work.

That accountability ensures the greatness of the final version of every Pixar Movie produced. They use an iron sharpening iron method to ensure and create real Champion results.

“We would be amazed, what we could accomplish, if we didn’t care who got the credit along the way.”

President Ronald Reagan      

No matter what you’ve done, others can learn and grow from your influence. And protecting your character is at pinnacle of that impact. 

As the ancient proverb declares… “In all things guard your heart, for out of it flow the virtues of life.”

Let go of “looking good!” Show your inner strength and courage by:

  • Stepping up
  • Telling the truth
  • Laying down your pride
  • Being accountable
  • Giving up looking good-as your ‘good enough’ (you are better than that!)

It’s then you’ll rise…to real Champion status!

I know you can! And believe you will!


“Dr. Neecie, I cannot thank you enough for walking me through this. That press conference was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But somehow, I know that it was the right thing to do. I went to bed that night ‘almost’ feeling like a real Champion again. Mostly because, my wife stood beside me in forgiveness and belief.” 

I was delighted to hear that!

He did what all great Champions!

He’d restored his Champion status!

But I was stuck at his ‘almost’ comment?

That one word bothered me. I had to ask.

“So, tell me what you could do to remove the ‘almost’ from you living again in Champion status?”

With sincere concern he responded, “I know a little bit about the 12-step program. And I know a little bit about making amends. But I really don’t want to leave it at that.”

He paused in thought and continued, “That … I told the truth, and now everyone thinks I’m saying back off … everything is fine. Just like I’m trying to do/have done with my wife. So, I want to make it right.”

His earnestness was on his face as he continued.

“I must admit, I didn’t like that list of requirements I got from my wife. But deserve it! I earned it! And in my mind that was making amends. I was truly willing to do ANYTHING! I’d like to do the same thing for my industry. For all the young people I’ve mentored. But I don’t even know how to start, to begin, doing that?”

I found that very admirable, because in the 12-step program …

the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse don’t just affect the addict. They overflow into every area of a life, causing the greatest damage, to close relationships.

Damage comes when the user/controller never surrenders.

Unlike my pro athlete client, addicts stay addicts when they’re never willing to learn or ask how to be present and look and see what those they love, really need.

When the need to use takes control, looking good to the addict becomes feeling good. They may be in the room, but the control of the craving becomes the number one conversation piece in their head.

It’s not just their ‘ability’ to be in the moment that’s challenged, but their compromised willingness to “be in the moment.” The craving control is now the willpower they feed and protect.   

The result?

An anxious, reactionary, angry version of a person you don’t know any more. They live to justify the image they deny.

As they say in AA, the ‘shitty’ committee (in your litty bitty brain) is now in session.

The addiction has literally changed the neurobiology of their brain and the signal pathways of all their thinking. The need for their substance of choice, is now their ‘being in the present’ new normal, which can never become anything other than the pursuit of insanity.

Step one, for anyone, is the hardest.

But step one can be applied to all of life, for all of us! Whether for the pursuit of a dream or a goal or any addiction. Or, a new beginning when the secret’s out.

Surrender can rebuild the clarity in a soul, when the reaping of a continued caustic lifestyle, has finally melted down a life and all the lives that share it. Now, they are character broke. Looking for a new starting line.

Whether we’re still broken or still dreaming or still addicted, we’re all powerless to control the outcomes.

The 12 steps have been given an image, over time, that it’s normal to condescend to their use or power or affect; till we need them. Many think they’re only for those who just can’t handle life.

The truth is step one is a universal constant for everyone. That should be on repeat in every heart for every start, for every challenge, for every defeat, for every step-in our lives.

Take a second and fill in the step one blank below. We ALL struggle with something we have no power over.

Is it anger, lust, booze, cocaine, sugar, fear, food, control, etc.? Is it the results of the deal you just pitched? The song with no hook? The kid with no direction? Be honest like someone who really needs this.


I admit I am powerless over _____________, that my life has become unmanageable stressed out.

Step one is where renewable perspectives are found for the addict, for the dreamer, for the super achiever! When our surrender lets step one take the lead, peace will become our life’s manager.

It’s ok to deeply care for any outcome. But not when it’s all that consumes you. It will rob you of being present and you’ll use booze, anger, food, cocaine, lies etc. to cope … welcome to step one!

So, like my Pro athlete client is learning control and self-justification are at the center of almost every, if not all, shortcomings, and downfalls of character.

Instead of holding on and denying the selfishness of his choices, like an addict trying to control every reason, excuse, and outcome, my client embraced and surrendered. To authentic Champion style courage that says…

Grant me serenity

To accept the things

I cannot change

Courage to change

The things I can

And wisdom to know

The difference

Steps eight and nine lead to making amends and repairing the relationships that have been damaged by substance use.

  • Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Step 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Like I’ve shared, we all make mistakes. And there should be no shame in admitting when we’ve gone off course. It takes a good deal of maturity, humility, and courage to own up to that. Saying ‘I’m sorry’ is good, but it isn’t powerful enough to repair the damage done.

Amends and apologies are very different. Making amends is an attempt at reconciliation. You can’t erase what you did, but you can dedicate yourself to repairing trust and ‘making it right.’

I explained to him, “Although ‘I’m sorry’ is a good place to start, amends are about fixing what’s been broken.

One of my favorite songs is by Calum Scott and Leona Lewis. In their duet song “You Are the Reason” the lyrics speak of amends:

I’d climb every mountain

And swim every ocean
Just to be with you
And fix what I’ve broken
Oh, cause I need you to see
That you are the reason

With a twinkle in his eye, he asked if I’d spoken to his wife that week.

I responded that I had not but was curious why he’d ask.

“I sent that song to my wife this week and told her that I’d climb every mountain and swim every ocean! To fix what I’d broken.”

I think we both had a moment of being deeply touched.

To visit his question of what he could do to make it right with the youth he’d mentored, I asked if he had contact information for them. He did.

He made the most wonderful video to send to each of them.

Not only apologizing but telling them he wanted to make it right because of how he’d disappointed and hurt them. Then, he hosted zoom calls daily for a week, giving them all and opportunity to get on and speak with him personally.

But because each session was limited to a certain number of young people and so many showed up, to make sure they all could be heard.

He’s continuing doing it daily for a month. 

“I’m sorry” is one thing, but making amends is another. It’s like the extra mile for the Champion. They understand that the “I’m sorry” is like one grain of sand that another’s ocean of tears has touched.

And they’ll do whatever it takes to make it right. To fix what they’ve broken as in the words of the song!

I know you’re on your way or already are a Champion. If you’ve made a mistake, fallen, or made poor choices, do these three steps and amends, and rise higher than you’ve ever been.

“We have fallen,

But we will rise again.

We are in darkness now,

But the God will give us light.”

Micah the Prophet

If you’re not yet a Champion, start your journey today! By doing these three steps and the bonus. You’ll find a rich, fulfilling life.

Like a true Champion! 

Hugs and a hand extended to help you rise again!

Dr. Neecie