How to Win When Life is Unfair

How to Win When Life is Unfair

How to Win When Life is Unfair

Meldrick Taylor won the Gold Medal in boxing at the 1984 Olympics. Soon after, he took his 99-4 amateur record, turned professional, won the light welterweight title, and took his undefeated record into another title fight. It became the fight of the decade! 

In 1990, the welterweight title fight occurred between the challenger, Meldrick Taylor, 24-0-1, and the champion, Julio Ceasar Chavez, 68-0.

Going into the last round, Meldrick Taylor, the underdog,  had a lead over the champion, and Chavez needed a knockout to win. However, with 17 seconds left, Chavez tagged Taylor and actually knocked him down. Meldrick Taylor got up within five seconds, but with referee Richard Steele counting and only 2 seconds left…called the fight.

Jim Lampley announced, “This is the most unusual call by a referee in the history of the sport.”

If just two (2) more seconds were allowed to tick away, the fight would have gone to the scorecards, and Meldrick Taylor would have won a split decision. 

Chavez was strengthened after the fight and he became the greatest Mexican fighter of all-time stretching his unbeaten record to 89-0-1 before losing a match.

Although Philadelphia native, Meldrick Taylor fought the fight of his life, he suffered for it. In the hospital after the fight, it was reported that he experienced a facial eye fracture, was urinating pure blood, and even suffered short-term memory loss. 

The end result of the fight was that it was not fair, it was taken out of the hands of the fighters at that moment. 

So, here’s how to win when life is unfair

1) Fairness does not mean entitlement- 

I had many publishers reject my first book, was that unfair? 

Your good works will sometimes get overlooked. Other people may be picked or chosen or get the job you wanted. You may not be the one on stage or whose named is called for the award.

Are those instances unfair? Or are they just difficult outcomes to handle and accept? 

I once gave away my soccer suite to some high profile entrepreneurs. Never got a thank you and when I asked for a small favor in return several months later, it was crickets. Was that unfair, or just how people are sometimes? 

Remember, when someone says “it is what it is,” that means something bad happened! 

No one wants to admit that there are events and situations that are out of our control or that life is unfair. But, the fans on the losing side of any game are the ones who complain most about the refs. They play the blaming game and feel they are entitled. Heck, sometimes they are! 

Look at your situation and is it unfair, or is there a feeling of entitlement because you feel you deserve it? 

When we lose, we need to be able to find what we learned from the situation and not automatically deem it unfair. 

2) Luck is part of it-

Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.

Let’s face it, how to win when life is unfair means you have to get lucky. Now, no one wants to admit that luck is part of it. I get it. But, it doesn’t make it any less real. 

What is crucial is the Importance of The Hinge and Mental Toughness. Every single one of us will have opportunities. What we do with that opportunity when it arrives is what connects who we are with who we become! 

Since luck is part of the equation, then we need to connect with and develop relationships with as many people as possible, because we just don’t know who can be that Hinge for us! 

We can’t isolate, because only mushrooms grow in the dark! 

3) Respond don’t react-

It doesn’t matter how well you’ve prepared, things will go wrong!

It’s a matter of “when” NOT “if” adversity will strike. Proper preparation means that you’ll know how to win when life is unfair! 

Luck, other people, people’s perception of us, other’s expectations, are all out of our control. We can influence others, but we do not control them. 

How we respond to adversity, however, is 100% in our control. We are in our control of how we look at bad events, as either unfair and unjust, or actually as an opportunity. 

When we are in the midst of the struggle, we need to respond, not react to adversity. 

4) It’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback- 

Meldrick Taylor lost the fight of the decade and did suffer for it, but he also came back and WON the WBA Welterweight title and three successful defenses of that belt. 

Amy Beth Acker writes that wanting life to be fair is a major block to peace.  Acceptance is the key to all of life’s problems! 

We are going to lose. But, when we do lose, we need to do this instead… Remember, it’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback. It matters how we respond and bounce back after the defeats. That’s how to win when life is unfair!

Here’s a cool article that supports this take as well. 

5) Why? 

Life is a mystery.

I am clueless and baffled why natural disasters occur, why a two-year-old would develop cancer or sickle cell anemia, why a loved one develops an addiction or suffers, or how one begins to cope with losing a child.

Most of life is filled with inconveniences, but these aforementioned are tragedies!

I believe that there is a God, and I know that I am not it. What I do know is that a tragedy, even though we don’t welcome it, actually becomes the strongest type of hinge. 

Tragedies are an immediate hinge. However, the worse type of tragedies are not what takes place to us— but what we do to ourselves. We will make mistakes. We’ll make poor decisions. However, aside from mistakes, or bad decisions, every one of us has defects of character or weaknesses that we really don’t want. It matters how we respond to the adversity and setbacks in life. 

dr rob bell

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & Associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books.   

Please check out the podcast 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.

mental toughness lessons

mental toughness lessonsmental toughness lessons 

I recently spoke to James Lawrence, The Iron Cowboy on my podcast. He completed 50 Ironmans, in 50 days, in 50 states.

I did one. 

.0007% of the world’s population complete an ironman every year. Walking down the street in the United States and you’ll meet 1 Ironman in every 1000 people. Guess it depends on your circle, because I’ll see four or five of them during every road workout. 

The entire race took longer than it was for us to drive from the Eastern Shore back to Indianapolis. 

Here’s the 5 Epic Mental Toughness Lessons I Learned from the Ironman. 

Have a Why

If not now, when? If not you, then who? I couldn’t answer those questions!

When Rob, When? 

I once wrote down one hundred things that I wanted to do before I died. A full Ironman was on there. But, that was not a deep enough present day why. 

My major “why” had to do with others. My family, Josh Fugate, Izzy, and Tyler Trent. A friend from church, Todd Dolbeer passed away from pancreatic cancer days before the race and I thought about him as well. 

Your why has to make you cry, if it doesn’t it’s not your why. 

There simply will never be a perfect time for anything challenging and epic in our lives. We are all too busy! So, quit getting ready to get ready and just do it. 

Face Your Fear and Do It Anyways

I started training on July 1st. I had 90 days to prepare for the race… My biggest fear was the bike. Not only did I have to borrow a bike again, but I needed to get serious training and miles!

So, I joined a Cycling team/group. The first group ride I joined was with about 12 other cyclists who all had the same jersey on and seemingly top of the line bikes. 

It was like try-outs for a team of one. It was the first day of summer camp when you knew no one, except everyone knew each other.  I had no jersey and didn’t know how to ride in groups. But, I faced the fear and did it anyway. I was an athlete, so it all came back to me. But, this cycle repeated itself several times with different cycling groups. I got a little better during every ride and closer to my goal and just like summer camp or a new team, eventually made friends. 

Face The Fear and Do It Anyways!

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I was taught some mental toughness lessons along the way. I got dropped from a ride twice and had a bad crash during one of my 100 mile rides, but always kept the goal in mind of the Ironman. 

By the time of the Ironman race, I had logged over 1400 miles. 

Check out the article by NYC Running Mama  about lessons learned from her ironman Journey(i.e., there is no need to fear the unknown). 

Enjoy The Journey

Everyday was a training day and I took the attitude that there was NO tomorrow.  So, my goal was not only the miles and the workout and the challenge, but it was also a mental toughness lesson about focus. 

I made it a point in training to focus on the moment and to focus only on this workout. This was my strategy to enjoy the journey. I got to ride all over Indiana and run crazy miles on the trail and see different places that I wouldn’t have without this race. 

More importantly, I got to meet and train with different people and became friends with these individuals! They helped so much with various parts of preparation. People and relationships are all part of the journey and has nothing at all to do with the destination. 

This skill of focusing on the moment translated directly into the Ironman race itself! I could only focus on just this mile!  I didn’t become all-consumed with trying to finish. I was just focused on making it to the next aid station. 

Check out this article by Will Turner on his lessons learned from his ironman.(i.e. Big goals are usually more daunting than you expect. )

Stop and Help Others

We live in an overly-sensitive, easily-offended, anonymous hating, and self-congratulating, world.


We can also live in a world where we are trying to create a better us and a better you! 

It depends upon on attitude, outlook, and actions, which reality we create. 

I wrote the book NO ONE Gets There ALONE because a stranger stopped his own race during a 1/2 Ironman to help me, an idiot! And that Hinge moment made all of the difference in my life. 

I went into this ironman race with a lesson already qued up. It was “who are you going to help?” I had no idea who is was going to be of course, but it presented itself during the bike when a guy had a flat tire and I didn’t hesitate for a second.

I stopped! 

I also was able to pray with a guy before the race even began while we were waiting to go to the swim corral. He had some serious anxiety and was a believer, so I shared with him my only go to! Pray and if that doesn’t work, pray again!

There’s Always A Second Wind

During the Ironman, the race really starts when it comes to the run. My first several miles were actually okay. But, like in life, things go bad and I started to have stomach cramps around mile 10. By mile 13, I wasn’t feeling good at all and started to get the chills and feel cold.

I saw this movie before at my previous races.

So, when I threw up on the course at mile 16, it was actually a relief. I felt better and was able to get moving. Except, I hadn’t eaten in a few hours and I didn’t want to eat, thus I had little energy.

Our second wind in life is always right around the next corner!  

I got my second wind at mile 21-22. I was able to get a steady clip going and ran with another mate, named Greg Sinche, who suffered from a stroke at age 4. We ran the last few miles together and I finished the race like I was running a 5k. 

I believe when we are at our best and others are doing the same, then it’s the easiest time to love on each other more. 

My times?

swim time= 1:21

Bike Time = 6:33

Run time = 5:45

Total 13:58

Even after all the vomiting, I was able to get sub 14 hours, which was one of my goals. 

dr rob bell

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books.   

Please check out the podcast 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and  coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.

overcome The big loss in sports

 How To Overcome The Big Loss in Sports?

Throughout the course of a season, losses will most likely occur, but this is about The BIG LOSS IN SPORTS.

The loss that ends a season, or a missed opportunity so bad, that it causes the worse type of feeling in sports.

If you are in the game long enough, you’ll experience it.

Really good teams and athletes possess a different mindset. They are so confident, that there is little doubt that they will win!

This type of belief is actually what makes them so successful. So, here are five facts of the big loss and five things to do if you experience it.

Five Facts of The Big Loss

  1. It is a shock that the loss happened, and yes, there is sadness and anger, but the overriding emotion becomes a lack of any feeling. The immediate feeling is complete numbness.
  2. The BIG LOSS in sports is more mentally and emotionally painful than any physical pain encountered throughout conditioning or an injury. It hits the core self.
  3. “Success has a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan.”  When you win, “everybody” will want to be a part of it, from pats on the back to phone-calls and text messages.  However, when you lose, it’s just you.  You’ll then realize who is really there for you. 
  4. The loss may stay with you. There is so much emotion involved, that it actually becomes time-stamped in our memory.
  5. What follows in the days and weeks ahead is part of the grieving process: Denial, anger, depression, and acceptance. It is a healthy process and there is no speed course.

5 Steps to overcome the big loss in sports:

  1. Read & Re-read: The Man in the Arena & The Man Who Fights the Bull(below).

    “Bullfight critics ranked in rows

    Crowd the enormous Plaza full

    But only one is there who knows

    And he’s the man who fights the bull.”


    It’s you that put in the hard work, the sacrifice, and the one who played.  Refuse to give anyone else the power of how you’ll feel. This is how we overcome The Big Loss in sports. Some of those emotions like “letting people down” or “embarrassment” serve no positive feedback. You’ll have to remove that type of mind-garbage as quickly as it arrives.

  2. There is nothing that can be spoken that will ease the pain. The Big Loss although very painful, will not kill you. It is an inconvenience, not a tragedy. What happens is that our inability to move on is what causes the mental strife.
  3. The ball bounces funny sometimes, and usually with great teams and players, it comes down to a hinge moment: One shot, play, or catch that makes all of the difference.
  4. You have to know that “it is okay.” You lost, and you don’t have to like it, but there is nothing that you can do about it now, except, move-on.
  5. A larger piece of experiencing The Big Loss is your faith and acceptance as a person outside of your sport. It is difficult to accept, but if all you consider yourself is “an athlete”, then how to overcome the Big Loss in Sports is not even the real issue. You have to believe that “you are not only how you play, but you are also so much more.”
  6. Okay, one more….“People have no idea how many times you have to finish 2nd in order to finish 1st.” – Jack Nicklaus
Two Simple Ways To Get Off The Struggle Bus

Two Simple Ways To Get Off The Struggle Bus

We ALL struggle! But, we all don’t have to ride the struggle bus.

No one wants to be on that bus, where we repeatedly keep messing up, quitting, not following through, or letting others down.

The struggle bus’s only destination is to the pity party, where no one shows up, but YOU!

Here are Three Simple Ways to Get Off The Struggle Bus

1) I immensely respect David Goggins. He’s an ultra-freak endurance athlete and the epitome of mental toughness. No matter what, he just keeps moving forward. He’ll run right off the struggle bus!

David Goggins was asked at a conference “how do you keep going through your extreme races?”

He answered “what-if.” He starts to ask “what if I can pull this off?” “what if I can keep going and overcome?”


I’ve always said “what-if” never happened. Too often we ask ourselves “what-if” and there isn’t an answer because we are focused on the past and NOT the future.

Most of the time when we ask “what-if”, we are trying to re-create our own past. And it’s fantasy.

Google “what-if never happened” and see what pops up. Hundreds of scenarios that simply didn’t happen and the possible outcomes from these hypothetical events. (i.e. what-if 9/11 didn’t happen? OR what-if we caught that touchdown?)

But Goggin’s strategy of “what-if” is focused on the future!!

James Altucher asks us to wake up asking the questions of “what-if.” He states- When you start with “What if?” you start with questions instead of answers.

2) Jesse Itzler, who actually had Goggins move in with him for a month (Read: Living With A Seal) has a similar strategy.

He tells himself “remember tomorrow!”

Remember tomorrow how you’ll feel if you give up and stop? Remember tomorrow if you don’t finish and push-through! Focusing on who we want to be will get us off the struggle bus! 

Remember Tomorrow!

Both of these mantras are focused on the future and who we want to become!

3) One of my favorite lines from the Rocky Movies (and there are a ton) is from Rocky III. Apollo Creed is training Rocky in this movie and while Rocky is dealing with the typical battle against himself, Apollo drops some wicked knowledge on him.

There Is NO Tomorrow

So true, because if we approach every day like it is our last, then we leave nothing to chance and seize this day and this moment for all it is worth…Perhaps we need to start treating everyone else like it’s THEIR last day. If we can help other people get off the struggle bus, then we will get off of ours! NO ONE Gets There ALONE!

Repeat any of these mantras to yourself when struggling and need to get off of that bus!

top mental toughness coach

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books on Mental Toughness.  
Please check out the podcast 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and  coaches about Mental Toughness and their Hinge Moment.