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everyday mental toughness tests

10 Everyday Mental Toughness Tests

We may think of Mental Toughness as a huge culminating, you have it or you don’t event or thing.

However, these Mental Toughness tests are really about doing what others aren’t willing to do, pushing ourselves in all areas of our lives, and simply getting better.

Thus, since you’re reading this post, some of these tests will be easy, whereas others may be difficult. The key is to accomplish all ten in one day. Each of these tests challenges us to work on ourselves.

Want to check out the infographic of 10 ways to build mental toughness? 

1. Look everyone in the eye.

The eyes tell it all. Your eyes give you away!

The reason we won’t is that we aren’t confident in ourselves. Maybe it is because we are troubled or uninterested in the other person. Don’t just gaze and look away either but right up to the point of it being uncomfortable.

 2. Ask a question.

Ask for clarification or to elaborate in every conversation you’re in. Not only will it show your paying attention, but also you’ll learn more. Few people ask questions for fear of looking stupid, so it’s even better to ask a question in the presence of several people, such as a meeting.

3. Write out your goal for the day.

This is the easiest test, but don’t make it a to-do list.  Most of us just think about the goal instead of writing it down. If you write down what you want to accomplish, you’ll achieve it.

 4. Get your workout on.

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Whether you’re a corporate athlete or someone on scholarship, everyone is an athlete. All athletes get physical. These everyday mental toughness tests must include physical activity. 

5. Wake up 30 minutes early.

This is a huge indicator of success and this everyday mental toughness test is a cornerstone for our 30-day challenge. The first hour of the day sets the rudder for the rest. Can you fight the innate urge to hit the snooze and just get up? What will you do with the extra 30 minutes?

6. Work through lunch.

In the movie, Wall Street, Gordon Gekko said it best “ Lunch is for wimps.” Pack your lunch; take a break and be present while you eat and recharge, then grind ahead. Everyday Mental Toughness tests take sacrifice and getting uncomfortable. 

7. Turn off your phone.

This is the tough one for everybody because how long do we go without our phone anyway, 5 minutes? Plan when you get home to shut your phone off during a certain amount of time. Be present!

 8. Take 30 seconds of a cold shower.

Pay attention to where your thoughts go. Its only 30 seconds, can you do it?

9. Listen to someone.

Too often, when someone speaks, we merely start talking about ourselves. Instead, just listen and put yourself in their situation. Ask a question and look them in the eye.

10. Forgive someone.

You can check this one off by forgiving someone who cut you off in traffic, or you can seriously work on this step and choose someone who really hurt you. These everyday mental toughness tests are simple, but NOT easy! Remember, resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Sometimes the most difficult person to forgive is ourselves.


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 mental toughness 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.

 

re-ignite your confidence

keys of confidence

Three Simple Keys of Confidence


Show me a successful athlete, or person and I’ll show you someone who is confident.

It is without a doubt, the most important mental skill. It impacts all of the other skills inside of being mentally tough! There are many ways to build it,  and several ways to crush it. So, these are just a few important keys to remember when you’ll see it. 

You gotta believe!

Here are three simple keys of confidence. 

  • Confidence is a feeling:

When we are confident, we feel at ease, relaxed, and focused.

It is something that we just know. However, we usually only recognize when we are not confident. When we are not confident, we just have more thoughts, doubt, and are not as comfortable. It does not mean the thoughts are even negative, it’s just that we are thinking more… 

It’s why Body Language is so important, because we can act our way into right thinking easier than trying to think our way into right acting.

  • Confidence is knowing that you’re ready:

The keys of being confident is knowing, not hoping that you are ready.

A question to assess our own level of confidence is: how would you perform if you couldn’t fail?

This mind-set is important, because I have yet to meet a successful athlete that plays awesome when they play timid, scared, and try NOT to mess up. 

Confidence = aggressive.

  • Confidence is patience:

Of all the keys of confidence, this one is the toughest.

I can’t wait to be patient! 

Confident athletes never seem to panic or press when results aren’t going their way.

Look, we are ALL going to have bouts of struggle and adversity and we need to remain patient.

We must trust our preparation, our coaches, our game plan, our emotional management, our routine, and process of execution. If we are confident in the aspects we can control, then we will eventually have good outcomes. These are the keys of confidence!

 “They know, that I know, that they know that I know, I will win”

 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

Collin Altamirano won the 2013 USTA Nationals—the most competitive junior tournament in the United States and an invite into the coveted U.S. Open. In doing so, he became the first unseeded player ever to win the event.

One of Collin’s strengths evident at the USTA Nationals was his ability to hit the best ball. His years of training and thousands of hits were evident. At every match, he moved opponents back, grinded out points, and took advantage of short balls by hitting clean winners.

theentitlement

They don’t give these championships away…

Collin, his family, and his coach Joe Gilbert, owner of JMG Tennis Academy have all had years of sacrifice and dedication to achieve this prestigious victory. While his family lived hours away in Santa Barbara, he trained with his coach in Sacramento living under his roof and his tutelage.

The environment created was one of discipline and hard work. You can imagine there have been many pats on the back as well as some kicks in the ass. Coach Gilbert stated, “I put a child that was not my own as a top priority in my life. We gained a relationship that was worth all the sacrifice. No matter where this journey ends we will always look back on the hardest times as the times we learned the most.”

Altamirano’s schedule also prepared him for Nationals. His training included a mix of ATP challenger events, USTA Junior events, & ITF pro circuit draws. Having qualified for 6 professional main draws during the season, these various types of matches and play brought forth both difficulty and success. He played many different opponents and improved at encountering several styles of play. In that, he learned more about himself and his game at each tournament along the way. In fact, he won a local pro event immediately before coming to the USTA Nationals, which help cement his belief in his game.

The Hinge…

Due to his unseeded draw, he encountered two top players in the opening rounds. In both of these matches, Collin faced adversity and actually dropped the first set both times. In fact, during his second round match against the 16th seed, Deiton Baughman, he had never beaten him until that day.  However, he competed, made the adjustments, battled back and found a way to win. Collin showed his grit and confidence early on in the tournament and it carried over to each match, not losing another set the rest of the tournament.

In every match, and every tournament, there are hinge moments…The one point, game, or match that makes all the difference. Since none of us know when these moments will come, our role is to be mentally tough. Being able to bounce back and win early on provided Collin the confidence moving forward in the tournament and beyond.

Rob Bell revised slide3Dr. 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 .

became the hinge moment

 


How A Reader’s Digest Became The Hinge Moment


The Hinge connects who we are with who we become.

It is the one moment, event, or person that makes the difference in our lives…We just don’t know when or who that person or event will be. 

I’ve had many Hinge moments, some good and some tragedies. I’ve even shared a Hinge moment with An Olympic Champion. 

This is the earliest of My Hinge Moments, that would take almost ten years before it connected me with who I became. 

As a teenager, my grandmother used to give me the awesome gift of, wait for it, Reader’s Digest magazine…Thanks, Grandma! 

As a fifteen-year-old, Reader’s Digest really didn’t fit my needs.

However, it did become great bathroom material and I would read it while on the porcelain throne.

Well, within Reader’s Digest, I once read a story about the “runner’s high,” the physiological and psychological effect that runners would sometimes encounter during long runs.

It was like “being in the zone.” The study looked at how the personalities of those running long distances may transfer into other areas of their lives. I thought it was cool. This was long before my Marathon and Ironman days. 

Fast-forward nine years to the end of my undergraduate college; I had to choose a research project in my advanced Psychology class to graduate. We were to find a previous research study and replicate it. Well, immediately, the image that came to mind was the Runner’s High story in Reader’s Digest magazine. I tried to do the same study, did okay I guess, and presented it an undergraduate conference and thought no more about it. 

I knew early on that Sport Psychology would become my chosen path in life, so I applied to Temple University’s graduate school, although I never really applied myself in undergrad until my junior year, I was a hinge candidate at best.

The on-phone interview went surprisingly well and, in fact, the Temple University professor who was interviewing repeatedly probed at length my little research project on the Runner’s High.

I was accepted and even received a graduate assistantship that paid for my graduate school. 

The Hinge Moment….

As it turned out, my professor, Dr. Michael Sachs in 1984 was the one who basically coined the phrase, “Runners High” for his research. 

If it weren’t for my grandmother supplying me with Reader’s Digest subscriptions as a teenager, I would not have been accepted into Temple University’s graduate program, nor met my wife, nor continued on to Graduate work at The University of Tennessee, nor caddied on the PGA Tour, or work with so many gifted athletes. I wouldn’t have written a book titled: The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness either. 

We have no idea who or what may be The Hinge Moment. Our role is simply to be prepared. 

My story and this story would have been different. 

Who or what have been hinges in your life?  Share your Hinge moment here.


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 mental toughness 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.

This is what (we) did at the Tom Petty show. There is a mental toughness component to it (of course). They don’t give front row seats away, you have to pay for them or win them.

How to get front row at ANY show


A colleague  of mine,  Tom, was part of the group at the show. Our group of 8 people were camped out in the lawn at this concert and near the end, Tom announced, “I’m going down to the front row.” Off he went… Just like that…

Now, before we go further, Tom is blind…. so, actually Tom and his guide dog left to get front row.

After about 10 seconds, I say to the others, “I’m going with him” and run to catch him twenty feet down the path toward front stage.

How to get front row, takes audacity, because there are people employed to keep people from getting down front… Here’s what to do…


Rule #1:  Don’t stop!

I have been front row at many places before, and honestly most places I have been, I probably shouldn’t have. It all stems from employing rule #1.

Here’s how it went:

Row 60-We walked right past the first two set of ticket checkers without any problem to get front row. Now, if it was just me, there may have been a problem, but they looked at Tom and his guide dog and we kept moving….

Row 40-The second set of ticket takers also saw us, asked for our tickets, and we employed rule #1. They also saw Tom and his guide dog and they let us pass. We kept moving…

Row 30- We hit the lower level of seats and now needed to find a new path, we shuffled left and found a row leading us down. The lady checking our tickets actually grabbed us and now I employed the verbal response of “we are okay.” She let go and we kept moving…

Row 20- We were now in Box Seats Land, meaning the guide dog had a better chance of getting us closer than I did, because I was in front of and in-between sets of people (these people don’t dance either, they just sit or stand). I had no place to go.

Row 18- We slipped in with a group of people who looked at us, but did not say anything. Now, the lady who had grabbed us had followed us and was now standing right behind us. I told her we were here for one song and that was it. “Was that okay?” She said “1 song!”

I looked around and during the daytime would have seen the only way to the front row was from the sides not the frontal assault we had chosen. We were stuck.

We stayed until the entire encore was over and left the concert with everyone else…. We were close, 18th row… Now, if I knew the path, we would have made it, or maybe if Tom was by himself, he would have made it. Either way, this is the strategy of how you make it.

In life, whatever you want to accomplish, you’ll have to be bold and just do it.  Don’t stop just because people will try to stop you, just keep moving!


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 all the books on Mental Toughness- 

Sport psychologist caddying on pga tour

A caddy is the closest thing to being a sideline head coach. It provides amazing insight into the game that no one else can get, and caddies save a professional golfer, in my opinion, about one shot a round. Here’s my take, since I loop a few tour events each year for my clients that I help coach with the mental game.

“Keep up, clean up & shut up”

Caddying is all about timing. The best have an awareness of when to speak up and when to stay silent. They often know what their player is thinking and can even anticipate a response before a question is asked. Most importantly, a great caddy isn’t afraid to make a mistake.

“There is a reason why their name is on the bag”

A caddy is still perceived like a head coach because he/she is only as good as their player. But two of the absolute best that I know are Paul Tesori and Joe Skovron. They have played golf at the highest level, have caddied for winners on tour, Rickie Fowler & Webb Simpson, and prepare better than anyone else.

A great caddy is like a sponsor in A.A. It is built upon a mutual relationship of trust and is also 100% confidential. The best aren’t afraid of calling out their player if they are not preparing the right way, abandon game plans, not committing to shots, or getting in their own way. 

We shot 66, he shot 74” 

The bags are never heavy shooting a 66, but they can get weighty when the player is not playing well. In fact, the toughest part is often removing oneself from the actual score and not getting caught up in what the player is doing. The player himself can ride an emotional roller coaster, so staying positive, calm, in-control, and un-emotional at all times is huge.

“Every shot counts”

I am constantly reminded the importance of every shot! But, once my player 3-putted the last hole of a PGA tournament, which cost him a top-25 finish and $21,000. Ten percent of that amount, my cut, is more than I have ever attempted at gambling in my life.

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 book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness   

An A.D. that I met with recently discussed how one of their best basketball players always played safe. On one hand, the point guard made few mistakes and played consistent. However, the point guard also held back and never “took over a game.” They lacked mental toughness… 

At a swim meet yesterday, I spoke with a swimming coach who remarked how one of his swimmers never “went for it” and reached her potential.

The “Safe” athlete is the new normal.

From helmets used in soccer, face-masks for “fielding,” and mouth guards galore, we are overly concerned for our athletes “safety.” In some cases, this is justified. However, when it comes to playing our best, “safe” doesn’t cut it.

A “safe” athlete is afraid of messing up. They know that they can play it “safe” and not get judged too harshly, or risk defeat through their play. The motivation to put oneself “out there” simply does not outweigh the risk of defeat.

At some point, these athletes were judged too harshly on their mistakes and they were not allowed to fail! In turn, the athlete quickly discerned to just “not mess up.” The reality is that sport and life is all about failure, we are going to have setbacks more than we are going to win, and this is the process.

A huge part of the game is the unknown, the feeling of putting yourself against another of equal or more ability and seeing what happens. This feeling is nervousness, excitement, and anticipation. It is uncomfortable, but the only way to achieve success is to be comfortable, being uncomfortable.

Unless that athlete is allowed to fail and know they are “safe” OUTSIDE  of the sport, they won’t risk it, and put it on the line IN their sport.

The A.D. had a heart to heart with the athlete, and told the point guard she wasn’t reaching her potential and that she would later regret it. That one talk changed everything and now the point guard plays with a passion unafraid to fail.

“Show me an athlete who is afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you an athlete you can beat every time.” Unknown

 

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 book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness   

You may know the feeling… Cold water and lack of oxygen jolts you: you realize that you jumped in way over your head.  Limbs are flailing, lungs are gasping, and your mind can’t focus on anything but the struggle between fighting to breathe, and giving up completely…Maybe it’s just your morning shower or perhaps as I thought and did, “Hey, triathlons would be a good idea!”

This was my situation as I attempted the longest open water swim course I had ever swum.

The “swim-for-dear-life” technique is not very effective. When you are under the influence of Fear, most of your energy is wasted. I wasn’t swimming hard enough that day to really raise my heart rate.  But the most powerful tool fear uses is the endless cycle of “what-ifs” and “negative thinking”.

I was not just exerting myself physically.  I was also mentally spiraling back and forth between belief in myself and doubt. There was a distinct moment halfway through when I recognized that my doubts and fear had a cold grip on me.

Fear is between you and your goals and there are two things you must do.

1. Get in touch with your motivation.  What is your “why” for racing? I was in this water because I had an even bigger race goal, the following month.  I knew that I had freely chosen this event, had trained properly for it, and needed it in order to accomplish the bigger goal.  Aligning with your original motivation for the task at hand will give you the needed courage.

2. Focus. Have a “mantra” – something to repeat to yourself that would be encouraging in times of stress.  I have a favorite prayer that is short and sweet, and repeating it to myself put my strokes to a rhythm and cleared my mind.

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” – Dorothy Bernard

 About the Author: Elyssa Smith is a triathlete and distance runner. She and her husband own Runnertainment, a sportainment company that provides encouragement for runners and multisport athletes. Elyssa is now pursuing her master’s degree in counseling and sports psychology.   Elyssa@runnertainment.com

Runnertainment.com

technique for goals

Use This Top-Gun Technique For Goals…


In the movie Top Gun, Tom Skerritt, tells the fighter pilots, “You are the best of the best, the elite,” and “we’ll make you even better.”

The Top Gun school made them better fighter pilots, by flying, not by trying to make them fisherman or painters.

Stay with me here, because too often, we set goals addressing an area where we really struggle. 

This rarely works.


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What happens AFTER you reach your goal? 


Over 50% of New Year’s resolutions fail within the first six weeks.

Typically, most people set a goal to change, which are usually on areas we already feel bad about ourselves, the worse part, and we start from a point of  “I am no good.”

Use this top gun technique for goals. 

The purpose of setting goals is to improve and this occurs through gaining confidence and momentum. If you want to beat the odds, try this technique instead…

Improve upon your greatest strength.

For instance, my weakness is multi-tasking. In 2020, my issue was distraction!

I would “like” to get better at stopping it, but come on’, I’m already distrac ted on zoom calls and still multi-task. So, instead, my technique for goals is based upon my strengths of discipline, sport psychology, mental toughness, and creativity.

The goals I set are based upon “I rock at this stuff.”

If we try to address our biggest weakness, even if we succeed, then we’ve really only improved to the level of “kind of bad.” We just suck less at it. 

But, more than likely, half way through the six-week process, we’ll stumble, begin to make excuses, and feel bad as a result.

We do much better in life, using our existing strengths to improve. Confidence is a powerful tool in sports and in life, because when things are going well, we are more energized, positive, and relaxed. When we have momentum, we “keep doing what we’re doing.”

The purpose of setting goals is progress, not perfection.

Thus, the technique for goals is to improve on your greatest strength. Make your greatest strength your greatest strength. We’ll make you better 🙂 

Find small ways to improve by doing what you already do…


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

say to a referee

The One Word to Say to a Referee?


When I worked with HOF baseball coach, Tommy Pharr. He would use this one word all of the time….It later dawned on me, It really worked! This is the thing to say to a referee.

Surprisingly, it is the same word to say to a police officer if you get pulled over….

Both police officers and referees bring out the worst emotions in us… There is usually a call we disagree with, and in the moment, we are charged up with the situation of the game.

Disagreeing with referees are emotion filled because it means a poor call was made and it may be pivotal. These moments require precision with our words…Getting too aggressive, defensive, or making a referee feel like they made a bad call rarely works to our advantage. What often happens is the coach or athlete reacts, by shouting, getting upset, or saying it was a horrible call. Since they are not going to switch the call anyways,we can only make the situation worse.  We must not react with emotion rather, respond with poise. 

The goal should be to respond to the call, and help that the next questionable call will go our way. Not to mention being a good role model and keeping our cool. Referees are human as well; so feel free to use this one word to say to a referee to help with the next call…

WOW!!!

This word is not aggressive, it assesses no blame, and it gets the point across!!!

This one word to say to a referee  puts the emotion and thoughts back onto the referee where it should be. The referee hears the word, or sees the emotion and body language of “wow”, and starts to mentally process their call and the situation. “Hmmm”“Did I make the right call”,  “He is kind of dumbfounded, was that correct?” 

When we respond with poise, we can also ask “why” a call was made, and the referee will be more likely to take the time to answer, which will, in turn, help us coach and understand “why.”

However, If we react with emotion, ref’s become closed off and less likely to respond to us OR respond with their OWN emotion.

Now, each questionable call can’t be responded with “wow”, because it may lose it luster.

Besides, there are other words that help convey the same meaning…“Unbelievable”  is akin to “wow”  and can be used interchangeably, but lets not overthink ourselves here… Feel free to begin applying this mental game technique and you’ll see the results…


Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

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