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This Element Will Make or Break Your Mental Toughness

Growing up, I was always told that I was a mudder. A mudder in horse-racing is a horse that does better in adverse conditions! 

As an athlete, I loved the slop, poor conditions, and built-in adversity! Poor conditions level the playing field for everyone, no matter the talent level, so I conditioned myself to welcome tough conditions. The worse, the better! The truth is- every element can make or break your mental toughness. In extreme heat, I’ve bonked so hard in races, that I’ve been on the side of the road, throwing up. ( but, I still finished).  

But, This lesson in mental toughness has to deal with another element, WIND! 

Wind is the most powerful element and it will make or break your mental toughness. It impacts all of the other elements, from the spread of a wildfire to a hurricane, and even the windchill factor. In athletics, the success of sailors and golfers hinge on the wind. 

The wind will make you or break your mental toughness! Here’s where I re-learned it! 


On a 10-mile training run, there was a windchill of 38 degrees, it was windy, and raining. 

On my 5 miles out, there was a STRONG tailwind at my back. It felt good, but I also recognized it and was thankful for it.

In life, we need to PRAISE THE TAILWIND!

Too often in LIFE, we don’t even recognize the tailwind. If the wind is ever so slight, we still need to be thankful for it. We did nothing for it, but it is helping us.

It’s only after we experience the headwind that we realize how much the tailwind was there. I would much rather face the headwind early to experience the tailwind later on…

On the way back of this training run, when I made the turn at mile 5, there was the STRONG headwind. It was brutal! At least I was able to prepare for it, so I became thankful for it! I cheered it on.

In life, we need to CHEER THE HEADWIND! 

The tailwind was there to assist me, but the headwind was there to improve me.

The headwind is what made me better. It forced me to push through, focus, and work harder.

I don’t see too many people cursing the tailwind in life! If we are going to cheer on the tailwind, we must also thank the headwind, we can’t have it both ways.


A study in the bio-dome in the 1980’s revealed an amazing discovery for scientists. It was a perfect environment for everything to grow, especially the trees. However, when all the trees reached a certain height, They all TOPPLED OVER!

Scientists were baffled why would this happen. 

The Bio-Dome lacked the element of wind! Without it, the roots system didn’t get any stronger!

Can You PRAISE THE TAILWIND & CHEER THE HEADWIND!

We need the adversity and difficult conditions in life. It’s the ONLY way that we grow and improve! 

That’s why this element will make or break your Mental Toughness.


top mental toughness coach

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness- 

NO FEAR
I have a brand new project coming out. It is an 18-minute film and E-book titled: NO FEAR: A simple guide to mental toughness. You can sign-up for the pre-release here….

I was a University professor for 5 years and I would announce to every class on the first day, all that they had to do to graduate college. It was simple…Show up…every day. If they showed up every day, they would almost guarantee themselves a grade of a C, even if they did nothing else. Now, just graduating with a C average probably wasn’t the goal for most, but the point is valid.

Never miss a class… If they are present everyday, then they are taking certain steps to ensure they learn. They force themselves to act as if. They act as a person who graduates does. That’s it. And in doing so, they also ignite specific beliefs. They take ownership and responsibility and as a result of showing up every day, they develop habits.

First we form habits, and then they form us.

Once habits are formed, then beliefs are shaped and we start to conform to our beliefs. The beliefs don’t have to even be deep rooted or existential questions, like does God exist? The beliefs merely form our reason for doing what we do. It becomes our “why.”

When we develop our why, we can come up with any how.

Wait, doesn’t that go contrary to acting as if, and shouldn’t we come up with a vision statement before moving forward?

Neither mental skill is mutually exclusive. Our actions and beliefs work hand in hand. You can’t act as if without having some kindle of a why, a justification, and a belief. Just as once you really discover your why, your purpose, and no longer act as if.

So, when we show up every day, we are in place to get better. We can’t help to learn something and improve in some small way, every day.

When I get in debates about unbreakable baseball records, the one’s that will never fall are those that demonstrated and rewarded perseverance & longevity. One of these records was Cal Ripken, The Ironman. He played seventeen consecutive seasons without missing one single game. He played in 2,632 consecutive games. When Derek Jeter asked Cal Ripken the secret of playing every day, Cal replied, “ You know Derek, I Just…I just play.”

There is no secret….

Now, how many times do you think Cal Ripken was battling a slump, injured, was sick, or had an off the field issue? None of it deterred him from just showing up. What I knew is that when I went to watch the Orioles, Cal Ripken would be playing. #NEVERGIVEUP

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The Hinge-The Importance of Mental Toughness Dr. Rob BellDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach. DRB & Associates based in Indianapolis works with professional athletes & corporate athletes, coaches, and teams building their Mental Toughness.  His 2nd book is titled The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness. Follow on twitter @drrobbell  or contact drrobbell@drrobbell.com

Check out the new film & e-book, NO FEAR: A simple guide to mental toughness