Tag Archives: overcoming adversity

When the Going Gets Tough…

2 Feb

the_fox_and_the_grapes_by_alexmax-d4ys8zz[1]You’re going to encounter some adversity.  You’re going to experience some hardship.  Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but it’s inevitable.

Recently, I’ve had some challenging (and enlightening) discussions with a few student-athletes that reminded me of Aesop’s “The Fox and the Grapes” fable:

     One afternoon a fox was walking through the forest and spotted a bunch of grapes hanging from over a lofty branch.

     “Just the thing to quench my thirst,” quoth he.

     Taking a few steps back, the fox jumped and just missed the hanging grapes. Again the fox took a few paces back and tried to reach them but still failed.

     Finally, giving up, the fox turned up his nose and said, “They’re probably sour anyway,” and proceeded to walk away.

The moral of the story: It’s easy to despise what you cannot have.

When faced with adversity in their sport of choice, there are some kids (and, perhaps, parents) who apparently feel that it’s better/easier to give up than continue working to improve.  I hear comments used to justify quitting, like, “There are more important things in life than sports,” and “It’s not like I’m going to be a professional athlete.”

Of course there are more important things in life than sports — and very few of us will become professional athletes, but that doesn’t mean sports aren’t important.  Using that argument, you can rationalize any shortcoming.

You can make a case that there are also more important things in life than school — studying, doing homework, getting good grades, ACT scores, etc.

I suppose there’s also more to life than working — learning a craft, managing some aspect of a business, earning money, etc.

At any given time, you can add just about anything to to the “there’s more to life” list: faith, friends, family, and any other obligation/responsibility — or choice — you care to name.

I find it ironic that you rarely hear these types of comments from people who are committed to succeeding.  Certainly, they also know that whatever they’re doing is not necessarily the defining aspect of their lives.

What these folks have learned is that success is not only about the end result.  True success is also about the process.  It’s about learning and practicing and working through adversity.

What do you do when the going gets tough? Do you rationalize failure or do you strengthen your resolve and work harder?


Your thoughts?

Winners Never Quit and…

8 Sep

quitting[1]“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” – Vince Lombardi

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” – William E. Hickson

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” –  Joseph P. Kennedy

I’m sure you’re familiar with these quotes.  They all speak to the same concepts — persistence, perseverance, and overcoming adversity.

Here’s some advice: Forget all that stuff.  Accountability, self-development, and self-improvement are overrated.  And, it takes a lot of work to make yourself better.  Why expend all that effort?  I’m pretty sure no one ever improved their lot in life — academically, athletically, personally, or professionally — by working hard to make themselves better.

Are you a student who doesn’t care for a teacher, classmate, or class?  Don’t particularly like homework and studying?  Struggling with a certain subject or course? Are you just plain tired of school?  Just quit.

Are you an athlete whose coach is not giving you the playing time you feel you deserve?  Teammates not helping you get the exposure and recognition to which you’re entitled?  If you’re not satisfied with your playing time — or any other aspect of your sport participation… walk away.

Are you a business professional who’s just plain tired of the day-to-day grind?  Experiencing difficulty with a job-related role, responsibility, or task?  It may be time to put in your notice.

Having trouble communicating, interacting, and coexisting with family and friends?  It’s obviously their problem (no matter how many of them there are) because it certainly can’t be you.  You should suggest to all of them that they “look in the mirror” and engage in some serious soul-searching and attitude adjustment, and learn to adjust to your perspective.

And another thing: I’ve always encouraged my kids to talk directly with adults — teachers, coaches, supervisors, etc. — to discuss and resolve any issues that may exist, before I got involved.  I wanted them to deal with differences of opinion and adversity, and learn to “fight their own battles.”  But maybe I had it wrong.  Why should a kid have to swallow his/her pride and check his/her ego when a “helicopter” parent, living vicariously through their kid, is willing to confront his/her “tormentor?”  It’s much easier just to let mommy and daddy fight that battle for you.

Let me know how that works for you.

On a serious note, NO ONE should EVER tolerate verbally and/or physically abusive behavior from ANYONE!

Quitting is becoming an epidemic.  Are you infected?


Your thoughts?

Your Failures are Behind You — Move on

30 Jun

shutterstock_42835210[1]“What to do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.” – Dean Smith

At some point, we’ve all experienced failure.  None of us succeed at everything we do, all the time.

And one of the major obstacles to success — one of our biggest fears in life — is fear of failure. It’s the main reason that prevents us from realizing our full potential and achieving our goals. Fear of failure paralyzes us, limits us to our comfort zones, prevents us from moving forward in life, and hinders our chances of success.

Face it… defeat is a bitter pill.  There aren’t too many things that make us feel worse than facing failure. Failure often leaves us feeling bitter, miserable, and depressed.

It’s easy to see why most people are afraid of failing. We prefer to play it safe by remaining in our comfort zones and avoiding any risks. But playing it safe can also be detrimental. It takes us out of the game. When we choose to forgo potential opportunities and push ourselves into mediocrity, we restrict ourselves, preventing us from realizing our full potential.

Failure is a matter of perspective. We tend to think of failure as the opposite of success. But failures are actually the stepping-stones of success. Nothing worthwhile in life has ever been achieved without a series of failures.

We learn by trial and error.  Experience — the rewards and consequences of our actions — is the ultimate teacher, and our mistakes are a considerable part of that equation.

Successful people make mistakes… they fail.  But they don’t give up. Instead they stay the course. They overcome their fear of failure and are quick to learn from their mistakes.

There’s an endless list of examples of people who, despite facing defeat, did not give up on their dreams. They succeeded in overcoming their fear of failure.  Failure did not keep people like Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, and Abraham Lincoln from achieving their goals and becoming extraordinarily successful.

Overcoming our fear of failure is a necessary step toward the achievement of our goals. Successful people are not the most intelligent, most talented, or blessed.  They are just ordinary people who view failures as temporary setbacks on the road to success. They are successful because they have developed the ability and willingness to learn from their mistakes, move out of their comfort zones, and take calculated risks.

Don’t allow fear of failure to prevent you from working toward your goals. The “secret” to success is not avoiding failure, it’s having the persistence and perseverance to overcome failure, learn from your failures, and use that learning to improve yourself.

“Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” – Mia Hamm


Your thoughts?

You Have to Do the Hard Things

3 Feb

effort[1]My friend, Jimmy Day, posted this on Facebook.  It’s a blog post that was shared by an organization with a commitment to continual improvement.  The original author is Dan Waldschmidt.

19 Hard Things You Need To Do To Be Successful

You have to do the hard things.

  • You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
  • You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
  • You have to give more than you get in return right away.
  • You have to care more about others than they care about you.
  • You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
  • You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
  • You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
  • You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
  • You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
  • You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
  • You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
  • You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts.”
  • You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.
  • You have to try and fail and try again.
  • You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
  • You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
  • You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
  • You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
  • You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.

You have to do the hard things. The things that no one else is doing. The things that scare you. The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on.

Those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.

The hard things are the easiest things to avoid. To excuse away. To pretend like they don’t apply to you.

The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things that smarter, wealthier, more qualified people don’t have the courage — or desperation — to do.

Do the hard things. You might be surprised at how amazing you really are.


Your thoughts?

How Playing Sports Prepares You for Life

11 Oct

DSCN0424I don’t want to suggest that playing sports is necessary to prepare you for, or succeed in, life.  But if you’re willing to absorb and learn from the life-lessons that participating in sports teaches us, you will realize that there are a lot of parallels between what you do — and learn — on the court or field, and what you do at home, school, work… and life.


Competition is a given in sports.  Athletes compete against other athletes, teams, and the clock.  You will be competing for the rest of your life, internally (with yourself) or externally (with others)… get used to it.  The competition may involve your grades, class rank, a position (or starting spot) on the team, a scholarship, a job interview, a promotion, or even a diet.  Developing a healthy attitude and perspective toward competition can make life’s challenges less overwhelming.


Even most individual sports, such as tennis, golf, and gymnastics, exist as teams.  Learning to function and succeed as part of a group is vital (unless you plan to spend your life in a cave, by yourself, in some remote part of the world).  Communication, collaboration, and delegation are skills that teachers, coaches, and employers value.  You don’t have to give up your identity or talents to work effectively as part of a group, but you may need to learn to compromise.

Winning With Grace

Sometimes you will win.  There’s nothing worse than seeing someone gloat after winning.  Humility demonstrates both class and respect for your competition.  My Dad used to tell me to act as if I had won before, and expected to win again (Fred was not big on victory celebrations; definitely a life lesson I passed along to my own children).

Losing With Dignity

Sometimes you will lose.  A sore loser is no better than an arrogant winner.  Sure, losing hurts, but nobody wants to see you pout or sulk, or hear you complain or make excuses.  Learn from, and be willing to use, past failures as stepping-stones to future successes.

Dealing With/Overcoming Adversity

In sports, as in life, there are times when you will have to “play from behind.”  It’s great when things go smoothly, but it’s not realistic to expect that things won’t sometimes take a turn for the worse.  Maybe you’ll have to deal with an injury.  Or maybe, for whatever reason, your team will have to play at less than full strength.  In those situations, you’ll need to learn to adapt if you want to succeed.  It’s imperative to keep working hard and maintain a positive attitude.

Challenges and Obstacles

Hard-throwing pitchers; strong, speedy running backs; basketball players that jump out of the gym.  When they’re on your team, it’s fun.  When they’re not, you and your teammates may have your work cut out for you.  In life, you will undoubtedly encounter obstacles, every day.  Sometimes, they will be minor nuisances, like bad weather or household appliance that need repair.  Other times (hopefully they will be few and far between), the magnitude of these challenges — for example, dealing with a family member’s serious illness — will test your resolve.

Value Of Practice/Preparation

If you want to be good at — succeed at — anything, you need to work at it.  No basketball player becomes a good ball-handler or free throw shooter without a lot of practice.  Same rules apply for life — school, work, parenthood, etc.  The more you dedicate yourself to practice and preparation, the better your odds of success.


Failure and rejection are part of life.  We all learn this at a relatively young age.  In sports, you will not win every time.  To borrow a card-playing analogy, you can’t allow yourself to fold every time you’re dealt a hand you don’t like.  Certainly there will be times to “cut your losses,” but character is built by dealing with less-than-ideal situations to the best of your ability, and making them as positive as they can be.


In sports, your responsibilities may include your studies (academic eligibility); practice and game schedule punctuality; uniform maintenance; game film study; and demonstrating leadership (team captain).  In life, responsibilities become magnified — mortgage payments, bills, and parenthood.  The sooner you learn to hold yourself accountable, and avoid making excuses and blaming others, the better-off you’ll be.

Respect For Others

You don’t necessarily have to like or agree with your competition (or maybe even your own coach or teammate).  Develop a healthy respect for others.  Respect your competition, but don’t fear them.  Respect your friends, teammates, and co-workers, but don’t worship them.  Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but don’t judge anyone.  You don’t deal with others’ issues, and they don’t deal with yours.  Be patient and tolerant.  Learn to live and let live.  Coexist.


Your thoughts?

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