pain of discipline or pain of regret

Pain of Discipline OR Pain of Regret

I encountered a painful reminder on the 5k race.

I ran and pushed my daughter in the stroller. My mileage and tempo was no longer where it needs to be to set PR’s, but I figured I could still win at least the stroller division! Here’s where I encountered both the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. 

At mile 2, I was passed by a mother pushing her daughter and as bad as I wanted, I just couldn’t keep up. I had no response and she took off…It was bad; I finished almost a minute behind her and limped in at a 7:31 minute pace.

Now, I can make as many excuses I want—not training enough, or having the time, or not making running a priority— all truths, but they are just well thought out excuses.


The point is that I experienced the pain of not being able to respond and getting beat. PAIN…

Now, there is another type of pain that athletes face.

  • Getting up early,
  • pushing oneself in practice,
  • experiencing setbacks, and getting better.

The pain of discipline is all about—Being All In. 

I spoke with the winner of the race who finished in 14:59, um, pretty fast, and  he said “it hurt.” PAIN of discipline or pain of regret. 

When we are all in, we are committing ourselves to doing the things we always don’t want to do. We are going to face pain, we are going to hurt, whether it is emotional or physical pain. But do we want to face it in practice or competition?

If we face the pain and discomfort in practice, it is the pain of discipline. If we only face the pain during competition, it usually turns into the pain of regret.

Check out a past post here on pain of discipline: How to run a marathon, write a book, and make a hole in one. 

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-

things I hate about myself

5 Things I Hate About Myself

Life is not a garden. We can’t pull out the weeds and leave all the nice flowers. 

Our mentality and identity doesn’t work like that.  Instead, we have to recognize our defaults of character and make peace with them. Striving to slowly improve upon them and allowing others to help us in this process.

Growth is about progress, not perfection.

The tough part is that you can’t spell GROWTH without OW! 

  1. Perfectionism

I graduated with my Bachelor of Science degree and moved to Crested Butte, Colorado to be a ski-bum for one season. I skied 100 days that season! 

Well, the employment opportunities were not in high demand, so I was forced to work construction. I sucked at it.

I became the laborer of the group, because I could hardly nail two pieces of wood together. Seriously, that bad. 

To this day, I “hate” being bad at anything and can’t accept the fact that I am not GREAT at everything.

My daughter told me once, “dad, you’re great at everything!” I politely corrected her and said ” I’m good at most everything, but not great!”  

     2.  All or Nothing thinking:

My mentality: win or lose, make the shot or miss it, do a good job or a poor job.

This type of stinking thinking has gotten me into trouble.

It means the good times are good, but the bad times are bad, and there are few times of being in the middle. Mental Toughness means that there HAS to be adversity! It matters how bad are the bad days! 

The problem is that when I think in all or nothing terms; I allow no room for making mistakes or learning the lesson

However, since we all are going to lose more often than we will win, a big part of mental toughness is learning how to deal with loss and failure. It’s one of the things I hate about myself, because it means living in the middle, the gray area of life! 

 3.    Negativity:

Coach John Calipari said once that he can bring the intensity to practice 3 out of 5 days, but he needs his players and other coaches to bring the enthusiasm the other days.  

I am the same way. I need others! 

One of the things that I coach is the power of attitude and belief, and I still struggle with it. I can sometimes catch myself when driving to negative town, but it is still one place that I hate to go, since it serves little purpose. 

No one goes to a pity party, except for you! 

4.    Tunnel vision:

Everyone’s greatest strength is also his or her greatest weakness.

Mine happens to be my obsession with mental toughness, sport psychology, and improvement. 

If I set a particular goal, I will achieve it, period. It was how I turned myself around from being a loser

However, there is a level of selfishness with this pursuit. For example, I’ve written seven books on Mental Toughness, ran 2 marathons, Ironmans, and Ultras, and had a hole-in-one.  

So, other pursuits in my life have to drop off in order for me to remain steadfast on the people and things that are really important. It’s one of the things I hate about myself because I don’t like the feeling of being selfish. 

Although, the tunnel vision is productive in the short-term, balance is better.

 5.    My Unbelief:

There is a verse in the bible, Mark 9:24.

It’s the verse I sign all of my books with.

It is a man talking to Jesus, who says “lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

This sums me up. I believe in my faith and salvation and know that things happen for a reason and that things also work out.

However, when I get stressed or fearful, it means I am not practicing my belief. The most important mental skill is confidence, and faith is all about trust. 

When I don’t trust it, I don’t believe.  

I know the skills and the things to do, but I can’t coach myself, I wish I could. Maybe that is one of the things I hate about myself as well! I’m not sure I’m ready to include that into my keynote speaking events yet. 



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. 

A mental toughness article I wrote previously for Stack magazine…How to Improve your mental game just by watching the Olympics



Dr. Rob Bell is the author of Mental Toughness Training for Golf, an AASP certified Sport Psychology consultant, and caddy on tour. He consults with athletes, coaches, and teams at all levels helping build and enhance their own mental toughness.                                                His website is and you can find him on Twitter @drrobbell

First, it’s not the QB, a kicker, or even a lacrosse goalie. The toughest position is not only stressful and demands thick skin, but it is completely thankless; it’s the referee. Think about it, the best officials are invisible, because they only warrant consideration when something bad has happened. Nonetheless, the best games possess a flow, fairness, and game management only available through the toughest position on the field.

In addition, we all have to be officials at certain points on our own team or career. Interviewing the toughest of toughest positions on the field (SEC football officials) has revealed three keys for all of us to follow:

1)   Get excited, not nervous-

Prior to a game, referees get the same type of feelings and thoughts as the players. The best get excited rather than nervous and the difference rests in how they perceive the situation. They must view games as “we get to call a good game,” rather than “I hope I don’t mess up a call.” It’s the same in our own lives, when we get excited; we view things as challenges (something we get to do) rather than threats (something bad can happen).

2)   Communicate-

Since the game has changed in 20 years from big guys or fast guys, to big and fast guys, there are more “gut” or “marginal” calls on the field.

The head official is only one addressing the crowd at the game, so he must administer the call not only correctly, but also timely. When you see the referees gather together, it may even come down to the head official’s decision to make the call.

3)   Re-focus-

There are approximately 170-180 plays in a game and referees never call a perfect game. The officials focus on their preparation, rely on their mantra of “ready, every play”, and the pre-snap routine. Every official has a different role on the field, so each person goes through a specific mental checklist that helps them focus.

However, mistakes still happen. Thus, some of the referees actually have a physical re-focus cue to help them on the most important play; the next play. When something goes poorly in your own life, what is your re-focus cue?

 Dr. Rob Bell is the author of Mental Toughness Training for Golf, an AASP certified Sport Psychology consultant, and caddy on tour. He consults with athletes, coaches, and teams at all levels helping build and enhance their own mental toughness. His website is and you can find him on Twitter @drrobbell