dr. rob bell Notre DameThe weekend was planned, Friday night, my family and I went to the Notre Dame football pep rally, visited the locker-room (touched the famous sign) and went on the field. Friday was incredible!

Saturday, we were going to the Notre Dame game versus North Carolina. All set! Now, my children are 6 & 4 years old, not exactly pre-game connoisseurs and we were staying on a lake about 30 minutes outside of South Bend. So we planned to arrive at 1:00 (game is at 3:30), watch the player walk, listen to the band & the trumpets play in the main hall, visit the grotto, etc.  All awesome traditions.

We parked, walked about 15 minutes and arrived in time to settle in & watch the player walk! I spy a guy selling tickets and then it hits me! I FORGOT THE TICKETS!

One rule I think in life, is that you don’t forget the tickets!!!! It’s basically the only thing you need to remember going to a game.


ANGER was my initial reaction, it always is when I mess up. I hate it. I frankly despise that part of me. But, it was my reaction, not my response!  My reaction is usually incorrect, because it is filled with emotion. Our response on the other hand is often correct.

BLAME was my 2nd knee-jerk reaction. I turned to my wife looking for someone to blame. I stopped this pretty quickly, because I knew it wasn’t her fault. Although I did mention earlier that she should be in charge of the tickets.

DECISION-MAKING time followed and quick. There was honestly no time to waste! Do we all walk 15 minutes back and then drive to get the tickets, or do the wife & kids stay? Very quickly, we decided. Let’s all go, stay together, we are a team.

STAY COMPOSED I thought.  Now, when one has kids, everything is magnified. Travel, messes, and especially stress levels. As a parent of two, the stress levels automatically increase a notch in general because there are just more things to take care of. At this moment, I was extremely aware of my kids! I must maintain composure because I do not want to model the behavior of losing it in front of them. I threw my son on my shoulders and tried to enjoy the walk back, while FUMING inside!

ANGER returned soon thereafter and this time it was directed inward. This emotion lasted much longer and manifested itself with my own verbal self-talk OUT LOUD! I (for some reason) needed to have this verbal boxing match out in the open and not just inside my own head. We are driving back and I am berating myself out loud (the kids have their headphones on watching a movie).

Here is a sample of some of the kind words I spoke: “You piece of shit”, “what is wrong with you”, “how could you be so stupid” “You call yourself a human being”? All top-notch affirmations!

After 10 minutes, I asked my wife, “Do you have anything to offer to this conversation I am having with myself?” She said, “what would you tell your athletes or coaches?”

I said  “Do the next right thing”, “Let it go”,”Re-focus”  and “rely on the fact that this happened for a reason”!  After that I was good, almost completley back emotionally. We arrived back to the stadium just in time to walk in and watch our 1st Notre Dame game. Now, I don’t know the reason why I forgot the tickets, maybe it prevented an accident? We will never know because “what-if” never happened. IMG_4360

What did I learn? 

It reinforced that we are human, we are going to make mistakes. It’s all how we respond to the situation and not how we react. People often fear the blame more than the actual mistakes as well! The situation and reaction all taught me more about myself and how I can grow as a person and as a coach. “That which hurts, instructs.” – Ben Franklin

Lastly & most importantly- What if it had been my wife who forgot the tickets? Would I have been able to extend grace and compassion onto her, or would my anger have been directed outwardly? Coaching and loving on others requires grace, sometimes extra grace is required for ourselves.

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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   

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hate ourselves to success

Can We Hate Ourselves to Success?

Yes, It works! And it is powerful!

Although I don’t have research to support this notion, HATE is probably the strongest motivator of all… Many successful people were driven and consumed by this over-arching motivation to prove others wrong! 

The hatred manifests itself with a belief that “I’m not good enough,” or ”It’s never good enough.” All perfectionists have this mentality. 

Future Hall of Fame linebacker, Ray Lewis, was driven by bitterness because his father was never around. As a kid, he would do push-ups and sit-ups until he passed out, as a way to deal with the pain.

This mentality of “never being good enough” and hatred is driven by a rage and burning desire to be successful, no matter what. 

Work Harder! Strive Harder!

Unfortunately, this hatred is toxic and it will never lead to happiness. We can’t hate ourselves    and live our lives successfully. 

The sad part is that to hate ourselves to success is temporary and WILL easily turn upon itself and become directed inward. It leaves hate lingering around and doesn’t go anywhere until a new target shows up. It ends up like a torpedo shot from a submarine, which starts looking for any target.

Anger directed inward becomes depression.

The motivation it takes to hate ourselves to success is skewed. The unquenchable desire for success is that we just don’t like ourselves and we are not good enough. Our belief is that the only way we can become good enough is through our achievement. Life teaches us that we are actually going to lose more than we are ever going to win, and when we win, it’s not for very long.

Even the best athletes at the pinnacle of their success, winning a super bowl, Masters, or US Open can feel lacking…Bernhard Langer after winning the 1985 Masters stated, “I had just won the Masters, I’m driving to Hilton Head with my beautiful young wife, and I felt empty.”

Now, not many will admit that they don’t like themselves. It requires too much rigorous honesty.

The alternative is more difficult and actually requires more work, because we hate ourselves for not being good enough our entire life. It’s all we know!

We are often the hanging judge after mistakes and setbacks would pass sentence, “off with our head.” I mean we would never talk to our loved ones the way we would actually talk to ourselves and that’s because we still hate ourselves. 

The only way to not hate ourselves is to not judge ourselves and know our true identity! 

The solution is the realization that we are good enough, we are sanctified, and we are righteous. Not by anything that we have done, but through the love of God for us and allowing his son to accept all of our shortcomings, past, present, and future.

We can then begin to operate from a different set of beliefs. It doesn’t mean the striving ends, but the motivation now stems from a different place and one where we can make a lasting impact and one of significance.

Which mentality are you?

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-