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Footprint of Mental Toughness


As a child, I threw a tennis ball against the outside steps of my house countless number of times.

I did it to practice my baseball fielding. Sometimes the ball would catch the corner of a stair and it would shoot off and make for an “amazing” play.

I did this for hours on end… I enjoyed it, I kept score, it was fun, and my fielding was never better! I made some killer plays in the actual field because of my repetition. 


Have you done any activity so many times that you lost count?

Imagine how many steps it would take to leave footprints in stone?

Footprints represent where we were and what we have done. 

In order to leave footprints there must be a blueprint. 

One has to think about and plan not only the sheer number of steps to create footprints in stone, but also the manner in which the steps are placed. 

Creating footprints of mental toughness requires a blueprint of dedication, sacrifice, teamwork, and extreme precision.

It has been done.

Every second of every day since 1937, men and women followed the blueprint and created these footprints in stone. The Honor Guard for The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. check out more of their exact requirements and sacrifice here. 

The detail is how the footprints are created in stone. The Honor Guard march in specific twenty-one step arrangements, The heel strike and toe push are so precise, that footprints are eventually created. Twenty-one steps and 21 seconds in-between movements at the end of each walk. Twenty-one symbolizes the 21 gun salute which is the highest honor bestowed in the United States military. Every second of every day the tomb is guarded and footprints are made.

The changing of the guard is where the blueprint gets riveting. Each changing of the guard is so precise that perfection is the goal and each sentinel is graded after every change. If there is a mistake, each guard will hear about it during review. 

Tradition demands it and Honor Guard enforce it.

What is amazing, is that even with the blueprint and the evidence of the footprints made in the stone, they still make mistakes. Perhaps the posture is a tad off, or their tone in voice is low, or there is an error like what you’ll see here. Can You Catch it? 

Here’s the head fake.

These are the folks with footprints of Mental Toughness. However, even the best in the world with a perfect blueprint make mistakes. What seems to matter more than the footprints is that they keep following the blueprint. That’s only when footprints can be made. 

Does your team have a blueprint and can you keep following it long enough to create footprints? 



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- 

Dr. Rob Bell true success

Duke basketball fans have one of the most indelible student sections in all of sports: The Cameron Crazies. They epitomize passion, organization, and wittiness. They camp out in Krzyzewskiville for three months prior to games, they hand out cheat sheets for the student cheers, and were the one’s that coined the now famous “air-ball” chant.

Can you imagine that the Cameron crazies once actually cheered for an opposing player?

During one game in 1995, Joe Smith of the Maryland Terrapins was unstoppable. He scored 40 points, had 18 rebounds, and had a tip-in basket as time expired to beat Duke, 94-92.

At the end of the game, after they lost, they truly applauded Joe Smith!

True success is being able to root for everyone.

However, we often feel threatened by others having success, because somehow it means that we can’t be successful too. Inter-team conflicts are based on the belief that success is limited. Therefore, we operate on the actions that not only do I need to be the best that I can be, but remove any obstacle in that path, including anyone vying for my position or record.

We perpetuate this notion and create a culture of it. Whenever we call out someone, put down a coach, or another company, we are doing so based out of fear. I hate it when I notice that I’m rooting against someone or envious of other’s success. It’s just based out of a fear that I won’t reach my own goals.

When we root for others, it means that we are confident. It shows that we are secure enough to actually wish the best for others. That is true success!

When I post this philosophy online, I’ll get questions like ‘even the Yankees?” It doesn’t mean that we have to cheer or root for our direct competition. It just means that we should look for opportunities to cooperate, cross-promote, and learn from them.

Rooting for everyone also means wanting to beat people at their best. I hate it when people make excuses for losing, because it tries to take away the winners success. We should want them to play well, but just for us to perform a little bit better. It doesn’t take away from our own drive or hating to lose.

We actually need others to succeed so we know what we have to do in order to improve. A funny thing happens when others around us have success. It cements the belief in ourselves that it is possible to reach the next level. If everyone around us was mediocre, what models do we have to get better?


Dr. 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 drrobbell@drrobbell.com

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

NO FEAR
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

Click here to subscribe to my Friday Mental Toughness newsletter…

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 drrobbell@drrobbell.com

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

NO Fear:

When I left the university as a professor and I began my Sport Psychology company, I used to give tons of free talks. I have thankfully been able to stop this practice (although, I still get asked to provide free talks). I literally could speak to groups and teams every day of the week if it was free….

One talk I would give was titled: NO FEAR and I told my wife and business partner that I was retiring the talk. “I want people to understand and capture their HINGE moment!” No sooner had I spoken those words, that a dear friend wanted me to speak to his men’s group. Okay, LAST TIME!

Maybe it was the emotion of the men or the atmosphere of the room, but several, okay three, said that they loved it and I should write a book and make a video about the talk….my reply   Yeah, no thanks. Here is my 2nd book called The Hinge, check this out.” However, one of the guys stayed on it and hence, the next project…

NO FEAR: A SIMPLE GUIDE TO MENTAL TOUGHNESS. 

-Shooting NO Fear

This project will consist of an 18-minute film based on the skills needed for mental toughness. NO FEAR- is an acronym and each letter represents a specific mental skill. Simple, but not easy. More importantly, these are the skills needed to capture our Hinge moment!! Accompanying the film will be an e-book designed for you or your team to not only work on your game, but also yourself!

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   

 

There’s a Huge MYTH about Trust

The best part about sports is that it is NOT like life. In athletics, A team or player won or lost, period.  Wash and wear. There is little ambiguity, because the Ball Don’t Lie.

Life on the other hand has tons of ambiguity to it. It is not as clear cut, nor clean. In fact, it’s messy.  In Life, there is a lot of gray.

Trust is the most important mental skill. (e.g., confidence) for success because it impacts all the other mental skills, but we automatically think in all or nothing terms…We have trust or we don’t. There’s the huge myth about trust. 

Trust is a continuum, It’s not ALL or NOTHING! Addicts think that way, ALL or NOTHING. I am either the best ever, or I am a horrible loser and no one is there for me.

I trust my pastor, but not for him to cut my hair. I trust myself with helping high-performers and athletes, but not for me to fix my own deck or garage door.

It’s not a question of IF I trust, it’s a question of HOW MUCH do I trust?

Trust is a process… HOW MUCH do we trust our coaches and loved one’s?  Trust affects everything because the more we trust and have confidence, the better focused, relaxed, and honest we become. Think about it, if we give a task to someone and know that it will be done, it frees us up to focus on something else.

How much do we trust our gut, and our own instincts?

Life teaches us that we are going to struggle and also be under pressure moments. When we mess up, how much of our trust and confidence is left, and how do we continue to build and work on it.

Proverbs 3:5-Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding

Click here to subscribe to my Friday Mental Toughness newsletter…

 

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   

Lunch is for wimpsWe may think of Mental Toughness as a huge culminating, you have it or you don’t, event or thing. However, Mental Toughness is really about doing what others aren’t willing to do, pushing ourselves in all areas of our lives, and simply getting better. Thus, since you’re reading this post, some of these tests will be easy, whereas others may be difficult. The key is to accomplish all ten in one day. Each of these tests, challenges us to work on ourselves.

1. Look everyone in the eye.

The eyes tell it all. The reason we won’t is because we aren’t confident in ourselves. Maybe it is because we are troubled or uninterested in the other person. Don’t just gaze and look away either but right up to the point of it being uncomfortable.

 2. Ask a question.

Ask for clarification or to elaborate in every conversation you’re in. Not only will it show your paying attention, but also you’ll learn more. Few people ask questions for fear of looking stupid, so its even better to ask a question in the presence of several people, such as a meeting.

3. Write out your goal for the day.

This is the easiest test, but don’t make it a to-do list. Most of us just think about the goal instead of writing it down. If you write  down what you want to accomplish, you’ll achieve it.

 4. Get your workout on.

Whether you’re a corporate athlete or someone on scholarship, every one is an athlete. All athletes get physical.

 5. Wake up 30 minutes early.

The first hour of the day sets the rudder for the rest. Can you fight the innate urge to hit the snooze and just get up? What will you do with the extra 30 minutes?

6Work through lunch.

In the movie, Wall Street, Gordon Gekko said it best “ Lunch is for wimps.” Pack your lunch; take a break and be present while you eat and recharge, then grind ahead.

7. Turn off your phone.

This is the tough one for everybody because how long do we go without our phone anyway, 5 minutes? Plan when you get home to shut your phone off during a certain amount of time. Be present!

 8. Take 30 seconds of a cold shower.

Pay attention to where your thoughts go. Its only 30 seconds, can you do it?

9. Listen to someone.

Too often, when someone speaks, we merely start talking about ourselves. Instead, just listen and put yourself in their situation. Ask a question and look them in the eye.

10. Forgive someone.

You can check this one off by forgiving someone who cut you off in traffic, or you can seriously work on this step and choose someone who really hurt you. Remember, resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Sometimes the most difficult person to forgive is ourselves.

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   

You may know the feeling… Cold water and lack of oxygen jolts you: you realize that you jumped in way over your head.  Limbs are flailing, lungs are gasping, and your mind can’t focus on anything but the struggle between fighting to breathe, and giving up completely…Maybe it’s just your morning shower or perhaps as I thought and did, “Hey, triathlons would be a good idea!”

This was my situation as I attempted the longest open water swim course I had ever swum.

The “swim-for-dear-life” technique is not very effective. When you are under the influence of Fear, most of your energy is wasted. I wasn’t swimming hard enough that day to really raise my heart rate.  But the most powerful tool fear uses is the endless cycle of “what-ifs” and “negative thinking”.

I was not just exerting myself physically.  I was also mentally spiraling back and forth between belief in myself and doubt. There was a distinct moment halfway through when I recognized that my doubts and fear had a cold grip on me.

Fear is between you and your goals and there are two things you must do.

1. Get in touch with your motivation.  What is your “why” for racing? I was in this water because I had an even bigger race goal, the following month.  I knew that I had freely chosen this event, had trained properly for it, and needed it in order to accomplish the bigger goal.  Aligning with your original motivation for the task at hand will give you the needed courage.

2. Focus. Have a “mantra” – something to repeat to yourself that would be encouraging in times of stress.  I have a favorite prayer that is short and sweet, and repeating it to myself put my strokes to a rhythm and cleared my mind.

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” – Dorothy Bernard

 About the Author: Elyssa Smith is a triathlete and distance runner. She and her husband own Runnertainment, a sportainment company that provides encouragement for runners and multisport athletes. Elyssa is now pursuing her master’s degree in counseling and sports psychology.   Elyssa@runnertainment.com

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