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Three Things Killing Your Mental Toughness

Believe me, you’re tougher than you think. The proof is simple, you’re not dead. I should have died at least twice in my life.

We can’t connect the dots in our lives moving forward, we can only connect them looking backwards.

That means we don’t know how things are going to turn out.

In our lives there will be these small moments that make all the difference. These Hinge moments will connect who we are now to who we become. We need to be ready and we need to be confident.

Confidence is the foundation of your mental toughness. When I lose confidence, I isolate, and only mushrooms and mold can grow in the dark.

Here are the three things killing your mental toughness.


1) Expectations-   

Growing up, my expectations were simple, Be The Best.

Except, I added two words to that mantra, at everything. I wanted to be the fastest, smartest, funniest, best looking, etc. Heck, I wasn’t any of those things even in my own class.  I can’t even be the best Rob Bell, A pastor holds that title.

Tiger Woods used to say, “ I expect to win the tournament.” 

Expectations are not confidence, but we confuse the two. Expectations and confidence are just cousins.

We can have confidence in the things we can control, but we hold no control over how we want things to work out. Expectations are out of our control and they turn into tomorrow’s resentments. Continuing to have the highest of expectations means we will struggle when we have to adjust and trouble-shoot. We basically only control, our effort, our attitude, our confidence, and how well we let of mistakes and re-focus. 

2) Doubts-

I just thought that the very best didn’t have doubts.

Whereas, I bumped my head continually on self-doubt.

It was only after I spoke with Olympic Gold Medalists that they confessed they too had doubts. Things go wrong and bad outcomes happen, but these champions believed in their preparation and more importantly they believed in themselves. Fear grows on our doubts. I hate listening to the doubt inside my head, so I have to recognize it.

When things are bad, remember it’s just temporary and your mental toughness will return.

Make adjustments, breathe, let it go and if that doesn’t work, do it again.

3) Drugs, Alcohol, Sex-

 The better we get, the more important mental toughness is off the field than on the field.

James Banks was the best college football player I saw live (outside of Randy Moss).

This James Banks later stated after getting kicked off of Tennessee’s football team, “All because I wanted to have a good time.”  Examine the BEST in our area who didn’t make it, chances are, one of these three were the culprit.

All three of these things derailed my short baseball career in college. Off the field issues will kill your mental toughness.


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- 

coaching left blank


Every so often, when I receive an important document, there is always This Page Intentionally Left Blank.  This is because if a document had a printing issue, there might be serious consequences. More importantly, imagine all of the inquiries and anxiety from readers if they came across a blank page without it being intentional. 

Coaching is basically the same way. Our team wants to know what pages are left intentionally blank. They want to know the expectations and our style! For instance, I’ve had successful athletes perform better when I’ve challenged them that, “They can’t do a task.” They declare “I’ll show you, and do it.” However, I don’t always like coaching that way and I have to communicate that.

One of the biggest frustrations of numerous coaches in business and athletics is that people struggle with trouble shooting, problem-solving, making adjustments, and thinking on their own. They are usually wonderful at doing what is expected, but not finding a way on their own…

So, we call timeout. We call timeout so often that people expect the timeout. They need the coaching session, the feedback, and told what to do. Can you imagine a coach NOT calling timeout during crucial moments now?

One of the coolest things during the 1987 national championship game between Indiana and Syracuse was that the last :20 seconds of the game (before Keith Smart made the iconic last shot), was NO TIMEOUT was called by coach Knight. He prepared for it.

Coaching is coaxing, but the best is knowing when NOT to coach. What pages need to be intentionally left blank? We leave pages intentionally blank by simply communicating how we coach and knowing how they want to be coached?


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 the most recent books on Mental Toughness- 

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-