Why a Strong Character Is Built on Failure

UPDATED: February 5, 2016
PUBLISHED: January 16, 2016

Fighter pilot. Super Bowl champion. Motivator. Author.

These are all titles that Chad Hennings has worked hard to earn over the years, first in the Air Force, then as a defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys, and later as a professional speaker and writer. But Hennings says there is another, more important, title that he works for every day: Man of Character.

Hennings’ new book, Forces of Character: Conversations About Building A Life Of Impact , features interviews with noted individuals whom Hennings has come across, including San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl winner Roger Staubach, Holocaust survivor and psychologist Edith Eva Eger, and retired space shuttle commander Tom Henricks.

“The No. 1 reason I wanted to write the book was to start a conversation within my community and the country on the importance of character,” Hennings says. “The media is constantly talking about individuals who compromised themselves and made poor decisions. So I wanted to pass something on to my kids about the importance of character and the decisions we make.”

Hennings and his interview subjects discuss the importance of making good decisions early in life. He opens the book by recounting a time he stole football cards as a youngster and how his actions resulted in punishment. Proper discipline and learning the importance of making smart decisions, Hennings says, was a key to his development. Character is kinetic, Hennings says, and decisions early in life start you on the proper trajectory toward success.

“If you aren’t held accountable for the decisions you make, there’s no learning moment. I’ve learned more through my mistakes and the trials in life than I have through any of the victories.”

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This article appears in the February 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.  

Scott Bedgood is a freelance writer and the author of Lessons from Legends: 12 Hall of Fame Coaches on Leadership, Life, and Leaving a Legacy. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife Sami.