Mental Tools for Success

We need to fall before we can run.

Posted Mar 07, 2019

The Netflix show Losers is a series of episodes that detailed athletes who have failed and, through it all, rose again in one capacity or another. It was so inspiring. This show demonstrates how people who have a true heart for the love of a sport and competition can persevere even after failure. 

Source: Netflix

The two episodes that I really related to the most were the ones about Michael Bentt, a boxer from Queens, New York, and Jack Ryan, a basketball player out of Brooklyn. Although their stories are very different than mine, the mental anguish and emotional turbulence they encountered was spot on. Unless you go to that dark place in your life, you will never truly understand what depression and losing yourself is about.

I have had three life-changing experiences. One was when I lost my basketball career due to an injury. I was devastated. I didn’t care about my life, drank more than I should have, and made some poor choices. Second, I lost a few babies due to pregnancy complications and felt like a failure as a woman. But the third is the one that made me know my value, my worth. I had a surgery that went wrong. Subsequently, I ended up in the hospital for 31 days. Prior to the last surgery, I could feel myself getting weaker and weaker. My temperature was at 102.6, my urine was dark brown, and the pain was like nothing I had ever experienced. That long night where I thought I would not make it through, I prayed and said, “I cannot leave my girls!” I asked myself: Have I lived my life the way I should have? I spent more than half of it depressed, sad, and beating myself up over my past choices. Did I spend enough time with my children? Or did I just work, work, work?! Needless to say, I found my value and self-worth that night, and I never looked back. Sometimes, we need to be pushed down to rise above and be our best self. I will never allow myself to get so depressed that I do not want to be here. Once you find yourself fighting for your life, as I did in that hospital, you never look back. I am still working on that, and I will never quit.

I believe that had I not gone through experiences in sport and life where I have fallen down, I would not have been able to get up and fight through my life to make it better.

So, when everyone is looking for a medal or a prize without putting forth hard work, we are not demonstrating what life really entails. Life is hard and messy. The mentality that everybody gets a medal and that the score should not be kept is creating a generation of false expectations and a sense of entitlement: The world owes me something. This mentality strips children of the mental tools developed over time through loss that are necessary to overcome adversity. We compromise the opportunity for them to adjust, be resilient, and move forward. 

Take-Home Message: We need to give our children a chance to lose because only then is when you learn how to truly succeed.