This is a sports column, and I never forget that.

But often, in this space, I try to show you how important sports and competition are to the teaching and reaffirming of the life lessons that young people need as they transition to adulthood.

Today is one of those days.

Imagine being in a mall or shopping center and you are feeling lost. Ok, you are lost. You can’t figure out where you are and how to get to where you are supposed to be.

And there it is…the giant map. And on that map is this itty bitty little red dot, and next to that is an itty bitty little sticker that says “you are here”.

You figure out that you have to walk straight until you turn left at the pretzel shop, past the customized necklace stand and the cell phone kiosk to the place you are looking for.

In life, we have times when we find ourselves in undesirable places.

We have options.

You can suffocate yourself with self-doubt and over-analyzation. “How stupid of me to get lost in the mall!” “How could I possibly have gotten turned around?” “I should have just stayed home.”

You can start pointing fingers. “The way this mall is laid out makes absolutely no sense.”

Or you can start moving toward the place you intended to go to in the first place.

While it’s important to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again, the first step to achieving a goal that has temporarily run into a roadblock is to look at the situation as temporary. A positive attitude makes that first move a lot easier to make.

And then…just take that first step!

The point is this: when things in life, and sports, get sideways, the question we need to be asking first is “What am I (or what are we) going to do about it?”

That applies to people who find themselves in jail, someone who just lost their job after 26 years of service, someone who just looked at the pregnancy test and got the answer they were afraid of getting, and to anyone who has ever been left behind after the death of their spouse.

It also applies no matter if the situation you are in is your own doing or not.

Maybe the doctor comes into the room to give you the bad news.

Maybe there is auto accident.

Not your fault, but…what are you going to do about it?

Sports are filled with unlucky bounces, missed calls, a slip of a cleat—things that have nothing to do with skill or training or expertise. They just happen.

It happened to me, and it may have happened to you back in March—COVID-19 hit and I was temporarily put on furlough.

No one’s fault. Totally made sense. Right thing to do.

And yet, in my heart, I handled it so poorly! I didn’t not ask the question “So, what am I going to do about?”

Instead, I asked “what’s wrong with me?”

See the difference?

In the process, I let a lot of people down.

Don’t waste those opportunities to ask the right question.

Then don’t be afraid of the answers.