The Human Taproot of Mental Toughness
The dandelion is an interesting flower. We spend billions of dollars every year to try and rid the dandelion, but it keeps coming back.
If flowers possessed Mental Toughness, the dandelion would top the list.
It is a very hardy plant.
It sprouts very quickly in most types of soil, growing in many climates, with little or lots of rainfall. It also does not seem to need the approval of its owner to grow successfully. Young children generally revere it, but at the same time, most homeowners hate it, because they believe it is just an annoying weed.
Mental toughness is akin to the hardiness factor in plants, which is a plant’s ability to survive in adverse growing conditions. The measurement of plant’s hardiness includes its ability to withstand drought, wind, cold, and heat. The process of gardeners developing strains of hardy plants and shrubs involves the process of “hardening” them to the elements. Ironically, the hardiest types of plants (i.e., weeds and dandelions) are usually the most undesirable to the typical homeowners.
The common trait among all hardy plants, however, is the taproot. The taproot looks similar to a carrot or turnip and grows vertically down as opposed to branching off horizontally. It distributes water where needed and it makes the plant very difficult to displace, because it will continue to re-sprout. Thus, developing toughness begins with developing a human taproot.
A human taproot is a perfect metaphor of mental strength. The analogy of a taproot is effective because it is unseen. Honestly, when we look at a tree or plant, we only focus on the branches, leaves, and perhaps the fruit. Unless you are a botanist, you will pay little attention to what you can’t see, namely the taproot.
Coaches and commentators often label the human taproot as “the intangibles.” These unseen qualities are often immeasurable, yet the intangibles and the strength of the human taproot determine the success of each athlete.
Just as the strength of the taproot is what ultimately determines the longevity of the plant, the real key to success lies in the unseen, the intangibles, and one’s resiliency. (check out this awesome blog post for more info on motivation).
If the roots are not strong, then the plant and player will eventually submit to the adverse conditions.
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 a recent book- Don’t Should on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness