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Your Three Selves of Mental Toughness

People have talked about near death experiences and how their life flashed before them, and I’ve had two near death experiences, which were falling off of a cliff and a car accident, but my life never flashed before me.

Before I signed up to compete in a ½ ironman in less than 2 weeks, my life was shown before me.

We all have our own experiences, setbacks, shortcomings, hang-ups, and doubts.  But, we also all have our own mental toughness, successes, motivation, level of fitness, and accomplishments.

Too often, we only focus on the excuses and limitations why we can’t do something. These limitations are usually focused on our deficiencies and proof of how we aren’t good enough. They are always rooted in the past as well.

Before embarking to crush any goal or big decisions, you’ll look at your past, your present, and your future. Where have you been? Where are you now? And where are you going?

Our Past Self

A funny thing about confidence it that there is a nosy neighbor with confidence named doubt. Wherever doubt lives, it does so, rent-free. Doubt is a squatter!  

 

Doubt always wants to hang out with confidence, but they simply don’t get along well. However, that doesn’t keep doubt from following confidence around wherever confidence goes.

It’s best to keep doubt as a neighbor rather than a roommate.

Everyone has doubts, even the best. This is normal, so just know that it is okay. What’s more important than the doubt entering your mind is that you determine how long you want to hang around with doubt. Do not allow the negative thoughts to stay around long right beside your confidence— rent-free.

The number one source of confidence is past performance. If we have done something before, then we can do it again. However, again, next to confidence is that awful roommate, past performance can also cause doubt.

Chances are that we have failed before. The failure provided feedback and an emotional connection to the pain. Perhaps that one failure or setback was so painful that it kept us from trying other challenges?

Or when we look back at our past self, maybe we see someone who has started things and journeys, but never really followed through or completed them.

Yes, you’ve had setbacks in your past, so what? Do you still let that event define you, or refine you? Does our past define who we are currently?

The answer is: only if we let it.

There’s one major question that we need to look at that will help determine our chances for success.

The question for your mental toughness is: Did you push yourself?

I believe that if you actually enjoyed working hard and pushing yourself (even if only a little bit) then you have what it takes to crush your goal.

I believe that everyone has the will to succeed; they just sometimes need the way.

If the past doesn’t provide the confidence and proof that you can crush your goal in two weeks, then merely don’t let it try and convince you that you can’t do something.


I’ve never competed in a ½ Ironman, so did my past provide the confidence I needed to finish the ½ Ironman with no training?

One of my strengths in my past has been the ability and drive to set a goal and reach it. I’ve run in a number of races before and have trained extensively for these. Some of my meager, yet personal accomplishments included a sub 20 minute 5k, a 3:23 marathon, a tough mudder, and a handful of ½ marathons and 10k’s. For a few years I also trained in the pool and managed to break 1:00 barrier in the 100 Freestyle. Since having kids, running my own business, and working with athletes, my priorities changed.  Oddly, these races often felt like another lifetime ago.

Again, our past may not always provide the confidence we like. However, one major setback and lack of confidence for me that I could not let define me was the bike. The reason I hadn’t signed up for these types of races previously is because of the bike. I biked as a kid all the time, but not as an adult. Heck, I didn’t even own a bike and haven’t ridden one in ten years. My past contained also a level of doubt.


Our Present Day Self

Next, we will have to check-in with and assess our present day self.

 Motivation lives here. The grind lives here- in the present. 

Your present day self is fraught with obstacles and distractions. Most of these keep us comfortable. The difficulty will be to answer and take action on the following questions:

Do we possess the will to go for it? Are we willing to put forth the effort and sacrifice to get it?

These are the questions that only you can answer.


Could I finish the ½ Ironman? Would I injure myself? And more importantly, did I want to do it?

Assessing my present day self raised more questions than answers about the race.

More current self revealed I was not in any type of racing shape. My runs were maybe three times a week averaging 3/4 miles a run, and my swimming has been limited to maybe 1x a week. I still worked out five days a week and either ran, swam, or strength trained, but with no immediate goals. Working out was for fitness, sanity, and fun.


Our Future Self

  We become whatever we are becoming!

Our goals are to improve 1% everyday.  If we focus on being just 1% better everyday, then we improve dramatically over a span of time.

One of the toughest things is being able to come up with a vision of who we want to become. Not what, but who? I want to become someone with no regrets and in the game. I don’t want to sit on the sideline of life and not go for it.


I once wrote down a list of 100 things I wanted to do before I die. Complete a full-Ironman was on this list. However, a ½ Ironman wasn’t on there. It was a mistake on my part because when writing down goals, most want to be President, but who wants to be Vice-President?  I also have an extreme love for my kids. I want to constantly model for them the importance of having a vision and the mental toughness to execute it.

Oddly enough, my future self may have been the biggest driving force for me signing up. It helped me answer the questions of: Could I do it? Yes, (I think so). Would I injure myself? (I don’t know). Did I want to do it? Yes, (I think so).


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

The WRONG WAY to Win the Locker Room


A team locker room is a sacred place.

Basically, what is said there, when you leave there, leave it there.

Sorry, but here’s the wrong way to win over the locker room.

New Buffalo Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott felt that setting the tone of the locker room was important.

Agreed

Coach Sean McDermott is all about “culture” and leading by example. He’s a 3:30AM fitness guy. 

Agreed

He is a driven, hard-nosed, accountability coach whose locker room culture begins with him.

Agreed

Coach stated that “this is a business”, so he removed the pool table and video games from the locker room.

Disagree    



Players don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Hall of Fame coach, Bill Walsh, set up a fishing tournament amongst his players during pre-season. He stated, a “team that can laugh together, can get serious together.”

Hard nosed, two time Super-Bowl winning coach, Tom Coughlin, spent the very first day of a training camp by having a bowling tournament. He changed his tyrant approach because  he “wanted his players to see him as his grandchildren did.” 

Super Bowl Winning coach, Dick Vermeil was known for his “boot camp” practices and discipline, but only after he started to develop a relationship with his players did he finally reach the pinnacle.

Look, there is nothing sexier than discipline, accountability, hard work, grit, perseverance, and a culture of excellence.

However, in order to win, coaches have to win their hearts as well. In order to do that, they need to win the locker room.

Here are 5 ways to win the locker room



1. Develop a TEAM culture-  

Every coach would agree that when you have players willing to fight for one another, there is nothing more powerful. Practices should be difficult and demanding, but developing team chemistry also takes place in between practices and games. You hang out so much together, that either bonds or cliques get formed in various ways. 

Developing a locker room where players can unwind, relax, be themselves, and hang-out is crucial.

Who wants a locker room where players simply dash out after showering and changing?

A pool table or ping-pong table encourages players an outlet to bond over a competitive activity that is not directly related to their own sport. The Cornell basketball team that made the sweet sixteen and finished 29-5 all lived together and touted their Super Mario bros. and table-tennis competitions. 

2. Allow the players to take ownership-

Jeff Van Gundy allowed all minor decisions like where to eat, which music and movie to play on the bus up to the players. He granted them a voice in their own culture. 

3. Have a leadership council-

 

In all pick-up games, kids self-govern themselves.

You can’t break the written and unwritten rules of the court and expect to be welcomed back. A leadership council of players should make decisions on certain disciplines that coach doesn’t have to. That creates more ownership among players and takes more off of the coach. 

4. Orchestrate the cohesion-

Teams become cohesive over the task at hand (winning), or socially (togetherness). Ultimately, task-cohesion is king. However, these task-cohesive teams are only fostered through extremely strong peer-leadership.

Social cohesion is queen.

Teams full of mutual respect for one another have more trust and uphold standards within the team. Usually, the best teams have BOTH task and social cohesion. These bonds can be enhanced through scheduled sessions intended to do so. 

5. Foster organic cohesion-  

Yes, it is a business. Winning is a habit. But, allow play to be a part of the culture. Allowing athletes to express themselves through free-play is as old as the cave-man days. We thrive on working hard toward a goal and also having fun along the journey. 


I’ve been in the team locker room at the end of a season with such tears of joy from winning because they all knew of the effort and sacrifice and bond. I’ve been in the other locker room as well, that tears flowed because the loss was so heartbreaking because of the sacrifice and bond.

If you’re in the game long enough, these moments will happen. That’s life.

The way to a winning team locker room begins way before these moments of joy or heartbreak. It begins with the culture of the team and finding ways to win the locker room. 

 

This is Just ONE way to Build Mental Toughness. If you are interested in learning more Mental Toughness Techniques. Check out RING THE BELL FOR Mental Toughness. 

win the locker room

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.   

Please check out the podcast 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.

Every morning, I tweet Patience & Persistence….They are my reminders and the keystone to mental toughness and success. But, what does persistence actually look like?

Warning: This is a graphic display of persistence. 

This is NO MAGIC Trick- this is real!

David Blaine revealed that this “trick” took 10 years to accomplish. He actually created a fistula , which is a hollowed out area of scar tissue through his arm where the needle is inserted, that’s why there is NO BLOOD.

For 10 years, David would take a needle through his arm in the same spot and increase the damage every so slightly. He drilled a hole through his arm to perform a magic trick- That is a display of persistence!

 



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- 


Mental Toughness to Stop in a 1/2 Ironman?

I finished a 1/2 ironman and was speaking at event reveals how we never know what or who will be our Hinge Moment. The question still remains: Would you have stopped?  This event changed my life and led to writing the new book: How to Crush a 1/2 Ironman in less than 2 weeks. 

 


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- 

What Blocks us from Mental Toughness


One of the most difficult things in life is to let go of old ideas and ways of thinking. The sexy term nowadays is having a growth mindset compared to a fixed mindset. Here’s how it plays out.

Hope you enjoy this brief Mental Toughness video. 

“The secret it to move with the punch” – Jake LaMotta


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- 

smart goals are stupid

smart goals are stupid


I completely failed the first time as a young Sport Psychology coach.

I started working  with the a University baseball team. I had my mental toughness session all planned out and we were going to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. The word still makes me cringe.

Of course the team session went well, we did the song and dance, wrote them out, shared them and even had specific team goals. But, I quickly learned smart goals are stupid!

Well, one of the goals the entire team agreed upon was no errors for the upcoming weekend series. The very first play was a ground ball to 3rd base, which he bobbled and bam, there goes that  S.M.A.R.T goal down the drain.

Goals are exactly like fitness. We ALL know it is important and want to do it, but the first time we miss a workout, our goal now becomes a gut wrenching reminder about why we hate goals.

Goal-setting works, but SMART goals are stupid.

Shockingly, Some companies or teams still use this outdated method to motivate and hold you accountable for production? Are you kidding me?  Do people still drive to Blockbuster to rent movies?

Three reasons why SMART goals are stupid.


Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr. said ” I have a mission statement” Or “I have a realistic goal?”


First, SMART Goals do not offer any type of plan. Second, they inherently make you set goals that are “realistic or achievable.”  Third, they fail because there is no emotional connection to the goals. 

1:  SMART goals are apathetic.

They offer no plan, sort of like the gym teacher who just rolls out the balls at class time. These teachers simply have different things on their mind. SMART goals are bumpers for bowling. They don’t actually help you become better. As Mark Murphy posts in his blog, only 13% of people think their goals will help them maximize their full-potential. 

2: They make you put a ceiling on the goal. 

If we reached our goal in the past, (which we did, because we are achievers) then the goal just moves a bit further out next time. It produces an assembly line of goal setting, not a way to actually make a difference.  For instance, Improve your market share for the year by 5%. How is that creative or inspiring? Set Top Gun Goals Instead…

3: There is no emotional connection.

SMART goals are similar to packing for the vacation, there is a precise to-do list and set time to get them done. However, real goals are instead all about the vacation itself and what you want to do there.We need to make an emotional connection to that goal and vision about our why, our passion. Your why has to make you cry, if it doesn’t, it’s not your why.  Check out Gia Ganesh importance of the “why.”

Here’s what to do instead:

Step #1- Set a vision.

Who do you want to become?  Not what do you want to achieve, but who do you want to become? There’s room there for only 1 or 2 goals, everything else just becomes a distraction.

Step #2- Develop habits.

First we create habits, then our habits create us. We are what we repeatedly do, so begin forming routines and beliefs that align with your vision of who you want to become. 

  • Check out the Time Management Chef template

Step #3- Focus on the now.

Become a Millionaire is your goal; great. But, you only made $85k last year?

Focus on the short-term objectives you have for your vision. These shorter-term goals are needed for momentum. When we ride a bike, we don’t need to pedal all the time, we just need momentum.  These short-term goals need to be delved into deeper and set for us to be pleased not satisfied along our journey.

Step #4- Look at them.

Look at your vision everyday.  They have to be places where we can see them and reinforce our vision. Tanya Patrice writes about the importance of looking at the goals every day and even posting motivational quotes alongside.

Obstacles and adversity will emerge along your process of becoming who you want to become. Don’t worry about that SMART goals are stupid, instead make the commitment that nothing will keep you from it, no matter what it takes. 


top mental toughness coachDr. 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

(Photo: Kidspot.com.au)


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…

Click Here for Bonus Video that I Guarantee Will Help!

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. 

Click Here for Bonus Video that I Guarantee Will Help!

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   

 

It is what it is builds mental toughness 


I yearn for the day that someone holds up the trophy with tears in their eyes and says “it is what it is!” 

NO CHANCE. They’d be condemned. NO ONE says it is what it is when something good has happened!

But, I’ve got a sick sense of humor. 

So it’s cool when we hear “it is what it is” because we love misery?

It means something bad has happened and this person, leader, or team has accepted the circumstance. Or worse, they’ve accepted the setback, the defeat and turned their circumstance into a condition.

I can’t get better, hey, It is what it is…

Except, mentally tough people actually use it is what it is as a starting point, not an ending point. 

It’s temporary and it’s part of the process. 

You lost, so what are you going to do about it?  Stay Bitter or Get Better? 

Some coaches after winning a championship actually have come close to the It is what it is mentality. They have sold out to the process so much that success is merely a byproduct, an outcome.  Not soon after their pinnacle of the season, they are back to the grind and the process. It is what it is builds mental toughness if we are committed to the process. 

It is what it is either stops us or starts us…


It is what it is builds 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 books on Mental Toughness-

Mental Toughness is built off of the field?

Not only does our best change as we get better, but Mental Toughness also becomes more about what takes place off the field than on the field. We are who we are when we are alone.

What happens when the door comes off the Hinges? If you hear a creaky door, it’s not the door at all, it’s The Hinge.  Here is a story about the athlete that you know because he/she is simply the best athlete in town.

 


 

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- 50 Ways to Win: pro Football’s Hinge Moments 

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 a 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 a taproot of mental toughness is key. 

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 taproot of mental toughness as “the intangibles.” These unseen qualities are often immeasurable in people, 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.

If the roots are not strong, then the plant and player will eventually submit to the adverse conditions. Build up your taproot of mental toughness! 


taproot of 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 a recent book- Don’t Should on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness