Last Saturday, I was walking to the train station to take Metro North to Connecticut where I mentor Navy SEAL candidates in mental toughness. Crossing 125th St., the heel of my shoe skidded out from me and I fell flat on my butt. Luckily, the light was red so the approaching SUV was already slowing and, thanks to the Turkish get-ups I practice at the gym, I was able to jump up quickly and easily.
Physically, I was perfectly fine. In my head, though, I spent the next 15 minutes or so ruminating about what had happened: feeling a combination of embarrassment for my apparent inability to walk without falling, annoyance at my heel for tripping me up and worry that it would happen again.
“Every day, something happens that’s unexpected, unwanted. The ability to move on – to put a poor judgment, a wrong answer, a weak moment, a physical lapse, behind you instantly – is the thing that makes winners out of the merely talented.”
DON GREENE, performance psychologist
Every day, we experience events that throw us off balance or derail us entirely. Could be the terse email from the investor saying they won’t be funding your company, the potential client calling to say they’re not going through with the deal, the polite rejection letter from the publisher or graduate school, an argument with your spouse or unpleasant exchange with a colleague, or forgetting a key piece of information in a presentation…
Typically, we’re quick to make a judgment of “good” or “bad,” “right” or “wrong,” “fair” or “unfair,” “wanted” or “unwanted,” and to resist – to view setbacks or adversity as wrong, and pain as a mistake. “Most people have been brought up in a culture that views acceptance as a weakness rather than a strength,” says sports psychologist Bob Rotella. “It’s viewed as giving in, giving up, not caring.’”
In fact, it’s the opposite: The sooner you move toward acceptance, the sooner you can take action to adapt and find a solution. Yes, you can train yourself to skip past the judgment and go right to: “It happened, now what?” Like this: