out of comfort zone

11 tested ways to get out of our comfort zone

I’ve run two marathons, completed an Ironman, and I put everything I had into them. My best time was a respectable 3:21 and that was running six days & fifty miles a week with speed work. I kept track of every run and reviewed it the other day; it was intense.

I’ve also done ultramarathons and a  Tough Mudder.

We get nowhere until we get out of our comfort zone.

Mental Toughness is not just physical. Most relate mental toughness to physical tasks because we can measure it and it is indeed difficult. However, we all can improve our mental toughness.

We just need to get uncomfortable.

 My 4th book on mental toughness was published specifically for parents. I wrote every single morning for 1-2 hours. It is uncomfortable and some days are worse than others. But, my belief is that they don’t give bestsellers away.

1. Want to vs. have to…

If we are not doing what we love to do, what’s the point? Not many people get better at things they don’t enjoy. Our mental toughness is aligned with our passion, perspective, and gratitude.  If we dwell on the things that we don’t have, we are operating from a viewpoint of scarcity instead of abundance. Remember, we focus on negatives in the darkroom.

2. Start with the hardest…

One of the PGA Tour players that I worked with taught me tons about mental toughness. Before Scot Stallings won his 1st PGA Tour victory, we were at an event that changed the way I approach life. He had to complete a putting drill in order to leave the course. There was one putt that was unreal and I figured he would save the toughest putt for last. He pointed at the Rasputin of holes and said,“ I’m starting with that one!”

Tracy Thorsell graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from the Naval Academy and speaks five languages. She took Chinese in High-school because it was the toughest.

Too often we start with and only want the easy tasks. Get uncomfortable and build our mental toughness by starting with the hardest task.

We get confidence and get momentum from accomplishing the most difficult first.           

3. Sit in a different seat & go a different route…

When I was a University professor, I had no seating arrangements, but people sat in the same seat every time. We seek comfort and we are creatures of habit. That is why we congregate around the same area and drive the same route. Go a different way is a simple way to engage the mind and get out of our comfort zone.

4. Be Honest…

I was once asked if I had seen a certain movie. I actually lied that I had because I wanted to be in on the conversation.

Honesty with others is tough, but honesty with ourselves is way more difficult. Changing for the better is a good thing, however, it requires honest self-assessment. Not many people can be honest because it makes them vulnerable.

5. Connect with others…

Mushrooms and negatives grow in the dark. It takes little mental toughness to isolate. But, our condition changes with the books we read and the people we meet and interact with. Get out of the comfort zone by meeting one new person a day.

6. Suit up & show up…

A boxing coach, Jason Minnick, told me that the boxers who are mentally tough are the ones that show up… after a beating.

The toughest part is indeed showing up. Too often we allow one mess up or mistake to define us. It doesn’t matter how bad we messed up, learn from it, and get back on the path.

7. Don’t complain…

John Wooden said, “Don’t complain, whine or make excuses, your friends won’t need them and your foes won’t believe you.” Life without complaint means responding to situations and people, not reacting.

8. Face the fear & do it anyway…

I wrote NO FEAR: A simple guide to mental toughness because FEAR is the biggest thing keeping us from our goals.

Everything we want in life is on the other side of that fear. The story that we tell ourselves either lifts us up or tears us down. Everyone is afraid, but few addresses it. Get out of the comfort zone and just do it, whatever your “it” is.

9. Trust others…

My friend Keith Tyner took his family on an R.V. trip out west. For every person he encountered and had a conversation, he simply gave them a little book reading light. Do you know how many people struggled with taking that small gift?

I hate trusting others because it means I may get hurt. I hate asking for help because it means I’m stupid.

That’s the story I tell myself that brings me down. The better story is I need to trust others because we can help each other. The odd thing is that no one wants to ask for help, but everyone wants to give it.

10. Pray & pray again…

Get uncomfortable by surrendering the things we cannot control. If prayer doesn’t’ work the first time, then pray again.

11. Trust your gut…

Our gut is our in-born smoke detector. It’s our GPS. However, it’s a tough choice whether we listen to it or not. I am convinced we are right more often than not when we trust our gut. However, we will still be wrong on occasion, we just can’t let our mistakes to dictate how we operate. When we trust our gut, it simply reflects that we are confident.

ways to get out of your comfort zone



dr rob bell

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-

best Sports parents


I love my kids more than anything. So, I get it, how they perform is important to me. But their performance is not a reflection of my parenting, just a shadow.

The most important element of youth sports is passion- a love for their sport! Each of the following recommendations is related to nurturing their own passion.

Remember, sport teaches whatever we want it to teach…

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Here are 6 ways that the best sports parents are doing it wrong.

1. Wanting it more than them- I get calls every single week from sports parents wanting our mental coaching for their son/daughter. I have to screen each parent, and one question I ask them, “Is this something your child wants?”  Whatever the situation they have to want it, period.  No matter the sport, the best athletes have that passion. They don’t have to be asked to work at it, because they love it. 

2. Not allowing them to fail- Losing hurts and it should hurt. The pain eventually subsides, but if we remove the failure, setbacks, and allowing them ownership of their mistakes than we actually cheapen the joy of winning. How can we truly appreciate winning and improvement if we have never lost? The safety net for children has become dangerously close to actually touching them. They know mom or dad (sports parents) will take care of it… Example: “I forgot my glove, my Gatorade, jersey, goggles, putter, etc, Mom and dad will pick it up for me.”

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3. Traveling too early- It’s the gateway drug to specialization. Anything before late middle school is too early. A few travel tournaments or matches here and there is great, its fun! But even for young kids, the trips have become every single weekend. Here’s the danger, it becomes expensive and once they start traveling, it’s too easy to buy the idea that they now have to pick a sport and stay with it. Specialization isn’t all that either because the specific movements with different sports actually transfer.

Jumping, running, throwing, all transfer across sports! Playing a variety of sports achieves that goal of skill development. Plus, each sport offers a unique advantage, competitiveness. When they learn to compete in many different sports, they will eventually transfer that skill of competitiveness to their favorite!

Ultimate Sports Parents Guide: How To Have a Great Athlete in 2019

 4. Not emphasize & reward effort- Effort is everything. But even as the best sports parents go, we forget that. If we only emphasize the outcome, athletes will learn and internalize “all that matters is winning.”  Players that are good will win early and often, until they no longer win. If parents only emphasize rankings, final scores, and talent, then taking risks, addressing weaknesses, and competing become afterthoughts.

At some point, they are no longer the best, and they can become stuck in limbo between past expectations and low confidence. Question for the best sports parents: shouldn’t the best 12-year old in the nation almost always be one the best 18-year olds?

Rarely happens because winning and outward appearance was rewarded instead.

5. Blame coach, system, or refs- I was sitting next to a parent of a future DI basketball player whose brother had made it to the NBA. This sport parent was miserable and every single play or refs call that did not go his son’s way, was heard by everyone including his son. I cried on the inside, because there is no way that this kid was happy either.

A little league coach once told me when he knew parents were talking about him because the kids would no longer look him in the eye. Sad…It’s about progress not perfection. It’s not your role to call or blame coach about playing time, change coaches or schools, or get a lesson every time they play bad. 

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6. Over-communicating with them There are good opportunities to talk about their performance and not good ones. During the game is NOT the appropriate time. However, all the time, parents are communicating with their son/daughter. Body language doesn’t talk, it screams, and they can see your negative behavior. Also, the stands can be packed with hundreds or thousands of screaming people, and the ONE voice they will recognize is yours! Why are you trying to coach them during their performance? 

I get it, no one has an ugly child, but if he/she becomes great, then they will get noticed. Really want to be among the best sports parents? Just tell them, “I love watching you play.”

dr rob bell

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 Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

change in mental toughness

The Difference Between Arriving & Starting Practice

Head coaches Jim Mora & Tom Coughlin have had success at the collegiate and NFL ranks respectively. They are also well known for their policies on meetings. Players arrive 15-minutes early for meetings, because the meetings actually start 10 minutes early.

Tom Coughlin has even fined players for showing up just 2 minutes early. These coaches stressed the importance of arriving at practice…

Head coach, Mike Lingenfelter, of the country’s best volleyball program, Munciana, bases his philosophy around starting practice instead.

Think about it, if it’s a bad start, then the next ten minutes are usually a coach getting upset, followed by another 10 minutes of having to re-start and re-focus. That’s 30 minutes! This coach stresses the importance of starting practice.

A simple way to instill trust, discipline, and excitement is to address the difference between arriving and starting.

Arriving to practice should involve an emotional and team-oriented approach. Dynamic stretching, warming-up, and bonding between the players and the coaches are all part of arriving both mentally and physically. The arrival period of practice is also the best time for a coach to re-connect with players and get a sense of “what’s going on.”

Arriving early and establishing that expectation helps tremendously with the starting of practice.

Next, how do you emphasis the starting practice. This is the time that you expect your team to be focused and dialed in. If the arrival has been taken care of, chances are the start will be effective as well. Once the start of practices becomes commonplace and energetic, the start of games, matches, and meets will also become more consistent.


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- 

When we lose mental toughness, do this…

Winning is easier to handle than losing. Losing hurts and it is painful, especially when we have The Big Loss!  However, we are going to lose in life more than we are going to win. So, let’s get better at it. We don’t want to lose mental toughness.

Those that have mental toughness actually handle losing better than those who are not as mentally tough. As Bobby Clampett once stated “It’s easier to lift a trophy than it is to lift up one’s head.” 

When we lose, we sometimes lose mental toughness and we need to do this instead…

         -Perform an Autopsy- 

Autopsies are performed by experts for medical and/or lawful purposes. An autopsy provides answers and gives us a cause of death. Autopsy=To see for oneself.

Losing is similar to death, except it is not fatal. It sucks when we feel like we lose mental toughness along our journey as well. 

Coaches watch tons of film after games. They are looking for tendencies, mistakes, and how to improve. Often they won’t even give answers to the media for a loss until after they have performed an autopsy.

We can do the same. For instance, Rickie Fowler reflects after every round and goes through it in his mind.

1) Be objective

Losing is an event, it is not a person.  If we can’t separate who we are with what happened, it’ll be more difficult to learn the cause. An autopsy requires us to be honest, which is difficult because it requires objectivity.

2) Find the cause

The toughest autopsies are the ones where the death is undetermined. Truth is, we may have performed the way we were supposed to but the outcome just didn’t work out in our favor. Those hurt!  We still need to find the cause, Did we lose or were we just beat?

3) It’s not you, it’s me

I hated that excuse because it was a way to avoid the real reason! 

Blame is simple, it’s much easier to move the mirror in front of someone else. While we are looking for reasons why we lost, we must own our own stuff! What did WE control and what could WE have done better?  Blame is simple, but it doesn’t help moving forward.

4) Don’t forget to bury the body

Coach Tom Griffin at Carson-Newman once had a bad loss heading into the post-season. He bought some meat, brought the entire team to the field at night at night, dug a hole, and buried the loss!

We need to MOVE ON, bury the loss, and hit the reset button. If we keep bringing up the loss after the autopsy, we haven’t buried it. Why would you want that dead body lying around?

It’s okay to look at the past, just don’t stare at it.

Check out this article from Brooke De Lench on advice for parents after losing. 

Don’t lose mental toughness over a loss.

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- 

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 3.11.31 PMWe are having our annual SuperBowl party and sure enough I get a few online responses of Maybe. So, maybe eight (8) more people are coming to the party OR maybe not!

Am I rejected for a better party, or what? Either scenario I play out sounds downright negative. Maybe sounds more like NO, but it isn’t.  Maybe is cousins to I’ll think it over and let me get back to you. 

The answer is worst than NO. 

No is like a tearing off a bandaid, it stings, but we get over to it.

At an 8th grade dance, I finally got up enough nerve to ask this girl to dance. It was one of those, “I have the biggest crush on this girl” type of thing, so I devised the great plan to ask the girl at the dance! No pressure, no diamond.

I had heard up to that point in my life the cliché’ of “what’s the worst she could say?” “NO.” Now, NO would be painful and the fear of hearing that rejection is what caused all of the anxiety and stress. But I hadn’t even contemplated her response of  “Oh wow, Let me get back to you.” 

Maybe freezes us and places us in purgatory. I limped back to my side of the gym completely stuck. I wasn’t prepared for a maybe. At first I was actually excited, she didn’t reply “no,”  but, the excitement soon turned into detest.

Did she really mean maybe, or did she actually mean no? My only recourse was to ask someone else, but how could I, because she said, MAYBE.  She rejected me with a maybe and I learned early on that No isn’t the worst answer and I wouldn’t accept maybe’s or think it over’s any longer, until Evites over our Super Bowl party.

Don’t be the person who gives the answer of Maybe and certainly don’t accept the answer of Maybe.

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 Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

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

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

love you moreHave you ever played the game— I love you more?  Choose from the following three choices, which relationship best describes you.

1) Your partner loves you more than you love him or her.


2)  You love your partner more then he/she loves you.


3)  You love each other equally, but it is really boring. 

Now, if you did not pick an answer that says something about you as well. But, the question, if answered honestly, reveals so much about our sense of control.

If we picked answer #1, we want to be loved more than our loving the other person. It means we value and cherish being in control. We actually fear losing control even to the person we are most intimate with physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

If we picked answer #2, we sacrifice control over the relationship, knowing what ultimate love really feels like. It involves 100% complete trust and surrender, because we believe that our emotional needs will still be met. It means that we are willing to be vulnerable and completely exposed. If your heart has ever been broken and you can honestly pick #2, you’re stronger than you think.

If answer #3 was your choice, you either weren’t honest or you really are boring. There is nothing wrong with this choice either, except that you struggle with choices.

I work with athletes and coaches who are natural control freaks… There is nothing wrong with choosing #1. I don’t celebrate that I picked #1, but it also means that when we lose perceived control,  we can get stressed or  un-productive.

Bottom-line: we confuse and spend too much time on the things we can influence, namely other people, rather then focusing only on the things within our control; our attitude, preparation, and our hustle. If you’re stressed, it usually is a result of focusing on others and expectations of others rather than on the things we can control.

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

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