Hi Everyone and welcome back to the Hockey Journey Podcast, episode number 69, Adversity, A Source of Strength? Presented to you by Online Hockey Training.com. I'm your host Coach Lance Pitlick. If you're new here, please make sure you subscribe, so you won't miss out on any future episodes.
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If there's one thing I feel pretty comfortable talking about, especially from my playing days, it is adversity. Dictionary dot com defines adversity as:
1. adverse or unfavorable fortune or fate; a condition marked by misfortune, calamity, or distress.
as well as:
2. an adverse or unfortunate event or circumstance.
From what I've experienced myself and witnessed others close to me go through, there's basically two types of adversity, events or circumstances that are in your control or out of your control, and unfortunately, both suck to go through.
An example of adversity that's in your control would be making a mistake in a game that resulted in your team losing.
The event happens, you feel like crap, but you're in control of what happens next. If it was a missed pass or shot, you can practice that situation or skill so the same miscue doesn't happen again or, more realistically, the odds of it reoccuring are reduced from the extra practice time.
Adversity is difficult enough to go through, but when the event or circumstance is out of your control, it magnifies the feelings and the self-doubt, self-defeating floodgates open wide, resulting in us swimming in a pool of negativity and non productive thoughts.
Untimely illnesses or injuries that keep you out of the line-up randomly happen all the time. I always felt I was on the island of misfit hockey players, because when you're hurt, you just don't feel like you fit into the team in any way. But the worst adversity I ever had to go through, happened twice, the second time when I was playing for the Florida Panthers, where I found myself being a healthy scratch for just over 3 months.
That probably was the most challenging stretch I had to go through as a player. Way worse than any of the injuries or surgeries I had to go through for one particular reason. When you get hurt for example, the injury happens, if you need surgery, you get that done. You'll be down in the dumps for a bit, but then the rehabilitation starts and once you know what your possible return target date is, everything changes and the short term objective clock begins and you start putting in the work. Your thoughts make a major shift here, from a lot of non-productive, negative thinking, to positive, productive and proactive thinking. You're on the chase again!
But what happens when you can't figure out when the end is and things will change? That's what happened with me down in Florida. It was my 3rd year with them, that would have been my 12th year pro, 6th full season in the NHL. I had a clause in my contract that if I played a certain amount of games in the 3 years, I'd earn a 4th year guaranteed on the deal. Going into that 3rd year, I needed play in something like 64 games, so I was pretty confident that I had a solid chance if I could stay healthy.
Something that wasn't even on my radar as a possibility going into that 3rd season, was that I was going to be a healthy scratch for over 3 months, and that's exactly what happened. Everything was going smoothly, we weren't great, but were in the hunt for a playoff spot a couple months into the season and I thought I was part of the ship moving forward. Then all of the sudden at the end of November or early December, I'm out of the line-up for over 3 months. If you want to hear the full story on that experience, it's the 5th podcast episode titled; Lance Pitlick's Player Journey (Part 4).
If you asked my wife what I was like during that period of time, she'd say I was in a depression. I'd have to muster up all of my energy to just go to the rink, be a professional and not become a distraction on the team. Also, don't think the amount of money you're earning makes going through a crappy situation easier. I was making the most money I've made in my life and still felt anger, frustration, like I was a failure, defeated with no foreseeable way out of the circumstance. When I'd come home from the rink, I'd just go in a back bedroom and have a pity party each day, it sucked.
But somehow I got through it, and so will you. One thing that really helped me get through that last year down with the Panthers, was my teammates. They all knew what was going on and a good number of them shared similar stories with me about times they had to go through that were very difficult. It was comforting to know they had my back, but more so, their adversity stories disrupted my negativeness and pushed me toward a path of optimism and that things will eventually improve.
With that being said, though I've had some tough experiences I've had to go through, by no means do I feel I'm an expert in the field of adversity. But there are many that have made the topic their life's work and I'd like to share with you some of their most important and impactful findings, with the hope that they may help you navigate through some future adversity a little easier.
For the following books I'm going to reference, know that I'm only scratching the surface of all the learning nuggets in each of the titles. If something resonates with you from a certain book, by the end of this episode, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of your own and read it in its entirety. I'll put the links to each of the titles in the description. Enough with the introduction, let's begin.
Book Number One
Can't Hurt Me
Master your Mind and Defy the Odds
By David Goggins
“Heraclitus, a philosopher born in the Persian Empire back in the fifth century BC had it right when he wrote about men on the battlefield. ‘Out of every hundred men,’ he wrote, ‘ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior...’From the time you take your first breath, you become eligible to die. You also become eligible to find your greatness and become the One Warrior. But it is up to you to equip yourself for the battle ahead. Only you can master your mind, which is what it takes to live a bold life filled with accomplishments most people consider beyond their capability. I am not a genius like those professors at MIT, but I am that One Warrior. And the story you are about to read, the story of my f*****-up life, will illuminate a proven path to self-mastery and empower you to face reality, hold yourself accountable, push past pain, learn to love what you fear, relish failure, live to your fullestpotential, and find out who you really are. Human beings change through study, habit, and stories.” (End Quote)
THE ACCOUNTABILITY MIRROR + ANTIFRAGILE JET FUEL
“You are giving up instead of getting hard! Tell the truth about the real reasons for your limitations and you will turn that negativity, which is real, into jet fuel. Those odds stacked against you will become a damn runway. There is no more time to waste. Hours and days evaporate like creeks in the desert. That’s why it’s okay to be cruel to yourself as long as you realize you’re doing it to become better. We all need thicker skin to improve in life. Being soft when you look in the mirror isn’t going to inspire the wholesale changes we need to shift our present and open up our future. The morning after that first session with the Accountability Mirror, I trashed the shag steering wheel and fuzzy dice. I tucked my shirt in and wore my pants with a belt, and, once school started up again, I stopped eating at my lunch table. For the first time, being liked and acting cool were a waste of my time, and instead of eating with all the popular kids, I found my own table and ate alone. Mind you, the rest of my progress could not be described as a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it metamorphosis. Lady Luck did not suddenly show up, run me a hot soapy bath, and kiss me like she loved me. In fact, the only reason I didn’t become just another statistic is because, at the last possible moment, I got to work.” (End Quote)
BRINGING YOUR BEST WHEN YOU FEEL YOUR WORST
“Once you’re in the heat of battle, it comes down to staying power. If it’s a difficult physical challenge you will probably have to defeat your own demons before you can take your opponent’s soul. That means rehearsing answers to the simple question that is sure to rise up like a thought bubble: ‘Why am I here?’ If you know that moment is coming and have your answer ready, you will be equipped to make the split-second decision to ignore your weakened mind and keep moving. Know why you’re in the fight to stay in the fight! And never forget that all emotional and physical anguish is finite! It all ends eventually. Smile at pain and watch it fade for at least a second or two. If you can do that, you can string thoseseconds together and last longer than your opponent thinks you can, and that may be enough to catch a second wind. There is no scientific consensus on second wind. Some scientists think it’s the result of endorphins flooding your nervous system, others think it’s a burst of oxygenthat can help break down lactic acid, as well as the glycogen and triglycerides muscles need to perform. Some say its purely psychological. All I know is that by going hard when we felt defeated we were able to ride a second wind through the worst night of Hell Week. And once you have that second wind behind you it’s easy to break your opponents down and snatch a soul. The hard part is getting to that point, because the ticket to victory often comes down to bringing your very best when you feel your worst.” (End Quote)
HEROIC SOUL CALLOUSES
“Time stood still as I realized for the first time that I’d always looked at my entire life, everything I’d been through, from the wrong perspective. Yes, all the abuse I’d experienced and the negativity I had to push through challenged me to the core, but in that moment I stopped seeing myself as the victim of bad circumstances, and saw my life as the ultimate training ground instead. My disadvantages had been callousing my mind all along and had prepared me for that moment in that pool with Psycho Pete. I remember my very first day in the gym back in Indiana. My palms were soft and quickly got torn up by the bars because they weren’t accustomed to gripping steel. But over time, after thousands of reps, my palms built up thick calluses as protection. The same principle workswhen it comes to mindset. Until you experience hardships like abuse and bullying, failures and disappointments, your mind will remain soft and exposed. Life experience, especially negative experiences, help callous the mind. But it’s up to you where that callous lines up. If you choose to see yourself as a victim of circumstance into adulthood, that callous will become resentment that protects you from the unfamiliar. It will make you too cautious and untrusting, and possibly too angry at the world. It will make you fearful of change and hard to reach, but not hard of mind. That’s where I was as a teenager, but after my second Hell Week, I’d become someone new. I’dfought through so many horrible situations by then and remained open and ready for more. My ability to stay open represented a willingness to fight for my own life, which allowed me to withstand hail storms of pain and use it to callous over my victim’s mentality. That shit was buried under layers of sweat and hard f****** flesh, and I was starting to callous over my fears too. That realization gave me the mental edge I needed to outlast Psycho Pete one more time.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #5
“The main objective here is to slowly start to remove the governor from your brain. First, a quick reminder of how this process works. In 1999, when I weighed 297 pounds, my first run was a quarter mile. Fast forward to 2007, I ran 205 miles in thirty-nine hours, nonstop. I didn’t get there overnight, and I don’t expect you to either. Your job is to push past your normal stopping point. ... Whether you are running on a treadmill or doing a set of push-ups, get to the point where you are so tired and in pain that your mind is begging you to stop. Then push past 5 to 10 percentfurther. If the most push-ups you have ever done is one hundred in a workout, do 105 or 110. If you normally run thirty miles each week, run 10 percent more. The bottom line is that life is one big mind game. The only person you are playing against is yourself. Stick with this process and soon what you thought was impossible will be somethingyou do every f****** day.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #6
BURSTING AND BURNING
“That doesn’t mean I was having any fun. I wasn’t. I was over it. I didn’t want to do pull-ups anymore, but achieving goals or overcoming obstacles doesn’t have to be fun. Seeds burst from the inside out in a self-destructive ritual of new life. Does that sound like f****** fun? Like it feels good? I wasn’t in that gym to get happy or do what I wanted to be doing. I was there to turn myself inside out if that’s what it took to blast through any and all mental, emotional, and physical barriers." (End Quote)
Book Number 2
The Obstacle Is the Way
The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
By Ryan Holiday
“Whatever we face, we have a choice: Will we be blocked by obstacles, or will we advance through and over them?We might not be emperors, but the world is still constantly testing us. It asks: Are you worthy? Can you get past the things that inevitably fall in your way? Will you stand up and show us what you’re made of? Plenty of people have answered this question in the affirmative. And a rarer breed still has shown that they not only have what it takes, but they thrive and rally at every such challenge. That the challenge makes them better than if they’d never faced the adversity at all. Now it’s your turn to see if you’re one of them, if you’ll join their company. This book shows you the way.” (End Quote)
PERCEPTION “WHAT IS PERCEPTION?
"It’s how we see and understand what occurs around us—and what we decide those events will mean. Our perception can be a source of strength or of great weakness. If we are emotional, subjective, and short-sighted, we only add to our troubles. To prevent becoming overwhelmed by the world around us, we must, as the ancients practiced, learn how to limit our passions and their control over our lives. It takes skill and discipline to bat away the pests of bad perceptions, to separate reliable signals from deceptive ones, to filter out prejudice,expectation, and fear. But it’s worth it, for what’s left is truth. While others are excited or afraid, we will remain calm and imperturbable. We will see things simply and straightforwardly, as they truly are—neither good nor bad. This will be an incredible advantage for us in the fight against obstacles.” (End Quote)
ACTION “WHAT IS ACTION?
"Action is commonplace, right action is not. As a discipline, it’s not any kind of action that will do, but directed action. Everything must be done in the service of the whole. Step by step, action by action, we’ll dismantle the obstacles in front of us. With persistence andflexibility, we’ll act in the best interest of our goals. Action requires courage, not brashness— creative application and not brute force. Our movements and decisions define us: We must be sure to act with deliberation, boldness, and persistence. Those are the attributes of right andeffective action. Nothing else—not thinking or evasion or aid from others. Action is the solution and the cure to our predicaments.” (End Quote)
WILL “WHAT IS WILL?
"Will is our internal power, which can never be affected by the outside world. It is our final trump card. If action is what we do when we still have some agency over oursituation, the will is what we depend on when agency has all but disappeared. Placed in some situation that seems unchangeable and undeniably negative, we can turn it into a learning experience, a humbling experience, a chance to provide comfort to others. That’s will power. But that needs to be cultivated. We must prepare for adversity and turmoil, we must learn the art of acquiescence and practice cheerfulness even in dark times. Too often people think that will is how bad we want something. In actuality, the will has a lot more to do with surrender than strength. Try “God willing” over “the will to win” or “willing it into existence,” for even those attributes can be broken. True will is quiet humility, resilience, and flexibility; the other kind of will is weakness disguised as bluster and ambition. See which lasts longer under the hardest of obstacles.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #5
DON’T HIT THE PANIC BUTTON
“John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit the earth, spent nearly a day in space still keeping his heart rate under a hundred beats per minute. That’s a man not simply sitting at the controls but in control of his emotions. A man who had properly cultivated, what Tom Wolfe later called, “the Right Stuff.” But you . . . confront a client or a stranger on the street and your heart is liable to burst out of your chest; or you are called on to address a crowd and your stomach crashes through the floor. It’s time to realize that this is a luxury, an indulgence of our lesser self. In space, the difference between life and death lies in emotional regulation.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #6
“It’s a beautiful idea. Psychologists call it adversarial growth or post-traumatic growth. “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” is not a cliché but fact. The struggle against an obstacle inevitably propels the fighter to a new level of functioning. The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth. The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity. The enemy is any perception that prevents us from seeing this.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #7
UNITY OF PURPOSE + DEAFNESS TO DOUBT + DESIRE TO STAY AT IT
“Too many people think that great victories like Grant’s and Edison’s came from a flash of insight. That they cracked the problem with pure genius. In fact, it was the slow pressure, repeated from many different angles, the elimination of so many other more promising options, that slowly and surely churned the solution to the top of the pile. Their genius was unity of purpose, deafness to doubt, and the desire to stay at it.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #8
“Coach Nick Saban doesn’t actually refer to it very often, but every one of his assistants and players lives by it. They say it for him, tattooing it at the front of their minds and on every action they take, because just two words are responsible for their unprecedented success: The Process. Saban, head coach of the University of Alabama football team—perhaps the most dominant dynasty in the history of college football—doesn’t focus on what every other coach focuses on, or at least not the way they do. He teaches The Process. “Don’t think about winning the SEC Championship. Don’t think about the national championship. Think about what you needed to do in this drill, on this play, in this moment. That’s the process: Let’s think about what we can do today, the task at hand.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #9
THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY
“So that under pressure and trial we get better—become better people, leaders, and thinkers. Because those trials and pressures will inevitably come. And they won’t ever stop coming. But don’t worry, you’re prepared for this now, this life of obstacles and adversity. You know how to handle them, how to brush aside obstacles and even benefit from them. You understand the process. ... let’s say it once again just to remind ourselves: See things for what they are. Do what we can. Endure and bear what we must.What blocked the path is now a path. What once impeded action advances action. The Obstacle is the Way.” (End Quote)
Book Number Three
It Takes what It Takes
How to Think Neutrally and Gain Control of Your Life
By Trevor Moawad
“That’s why I wrote this book. You don’t need to be an elite athlete to train your mind like one. You simply need to have challenges that must be overcome. And guess what? You’re human. So you absolutely face challenges every day at work and in your personal life. Maybe you were passed over for a promotion. Maybe you’re trying to go to school to better yourself while working and aren’t surehow to squeeze everything into the twenty-four hours in a day. Maybe you have a [bad] boss and don’t know how to manage your interactions. Maybe you’ve just had a child and you’re struggling to adapt to all the extra work at home. Maybe your spouse just told you it’s over. Once you’ve finished this book, you’ll be equipped with the same tools I’d give a team seeking a title. You’ll learn thatchampions don’t think negatively or positively; they think neutrally. You’ll learn that champions behave as if they have no choice. You’ll learn that champions make detailed plans. You’ll learn that champions visualize what they want. You’ll learn that champions lead themselves before they lead others. You can do this. By cracking this book open, you’ve already shown you want to grow and change. So let’s do it. It takes discipline. It takes sacrifice. It takes time. It takes what it takes.” (End Quote)
IT TAKES NEUTRAL THINKING
“Down 19-7, Russell [Wilson] hadn’t gone into the tank. You could tell when the Seahawks next got the ball back. ‘We can still win this game!’ Russell yelled. ‘Let’s go! Four minutes and fifty seconds!’ Why hadn’t Russell given up? Why did he treat the next play as if the previous ones didn’t matter? Because he stayed neutral. Neutral thinking is a high-performance strategy that emphasizes judgment-free thinking, especially in crises and pressure situations. It is the cornerstone of what I teach the athletesand teams that employ me. The thing about neutral thinking that resonates with so many elite athletes, most of whom are deeply skeptical of any self-help, is that it’s real. It’s true. It acknowledges that the past is irrevocable, that it can’t be changed with mantras or platitudes.Neutral thinking shuns all attempts at illusion or outright self-delusion, which are often the foundation of other motivational systems. Neutral thinking strips away the bull and the biases, both external and internal.” (End Quote)
GOATS AND G.O.A.T.S
“Three years later, Russell and I would go over this play and its aftermath with former Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph for our ESPN show QB2QB. ‘Right here, in this moment, you realize that if you’re going to go for something, you’re going to have some heartbreak,’ Russell told Rudolph as the interception played out on a nearby wall. ‘But if you’re not willing to gothere, you’re never going to get there.’ In other words, you have to be willing to be the goat—the old, negative meaning of the word my generation grew up with—if you ever want a chance to be the G.O.A.T (what younger generations call the greatest of all time).” (End Quote)
THE LAW OF SUBSTITUTION (AKA THE LAW OF FOCUS)
“Russell understood a critical fundamental: the law of substitution. At any given moment our minds can sustain only one thought at a time. One. The thousands of words flying through our brains or screams from outside crowds at riot levels can’t overcome that truth. It’s universal. Mymind doesn’t block things out. It simply goes to whatever thought I ask it to go to. My inner voice is loudest. If I don’t use it strategically, however, then the words of others or the outside chaos can replace my message to myself. My own words influence me ten times as much as anyoneelse’s. Russell uses that power. We call can.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #5
THE ILLUSION OF CHOICE
“My dad was always trying to adjust his phrasing to make it resonate with the largest audience, and he knew when he’d found words that hit the target. This phrasing hit the mark. I could see it in the players’ eyes. I could see it in the coaches’ eyes. They understood. I see that samerecognition every time I present to a new group and explain the illusion of choice. ‘Of all the things you teach, Trev, nothing hit me between the eyes like the illusion of choice,’ MGM Studios COO Chris Brearton told me. ‘It so clearly is true, and yet we all compete against our own choices every day.’ Deep down, we all know our choices ultimately determine our behaviors and those behaviors ultimately determine our outcomes. That doesn’t make choosing correctly any easier in our own lives.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #6
DRAW YOUR LINE IN THE DIRT
“I’ve had the honor of working alongside US Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell over the years. He told his story in Lone Survivor, and it’s a testament to staying neutral. In June 2005, Marcus and three other members of SEAL Team Ten were dispatched into the Hindu Kush mountains ineastern Afghanistan with a mission to either kill or capture a Taliban leader. After a group of goat herders stumbled upon the SEALs and gave their location to Taliban soldiers, the Taliban attacked. Luttrell’s three teammates were killed and he was left to try to survive an enemyonslaught in an unfamiliar area. Luttrell was shot eleven times. He broke his back and his pelvis and blew out his knees. He broke his nose and bit off a piece of his tongue.He needed to travel seven miles to reach the nearest village to have any chance of survival. But he didn’t think about the total distance he had to cover. That would have overwhelmed him and made him quit. As he lay on the ground looking at the moon, he decided to crawl. He grabbed a rock and drew a line in the dirt. Then he crawled forward. When his feet passed the line, he drew another line. He did that for seven miles. That is the ultimate in neutral thinking. Marcus didn’t think positively. He didn’t think negatively. He thought, ‘I am capable of crawling to this line.’ The next time life presents you with a challenge, don’t simply assume everything will work out. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do it. Just evaluate the situation. Figure out what you can accomplish right now. Then draw your line. When you cross that line, draw another one. And keep going.” (End Quote)
My hope for doing this podcast is that it helps you maybe navigate through a difficult situation, event or circumstance a little quicker and easier. The objective or goal to have a hockey career or life without any adversity doesn't exist. When we accept this fact, is there a way to use adversity as a strength, an opportunity reemerge more powerful than ever. I hope this podcast got you thinking about it a little differently.
Well that concludes another episode of the hockey journey podcast. I can’t thank you enough for stopping by and listening. I hope you enjoyed this segment on adversity, and if you think there’s someone in your circle of family and friends that might like this episode as well, please share it with just one person, it will really help me in growing this hockey community.
Again, I appreciate you being here, don’t forget to subscribe, rate or submit a review, I hope to see you back here soon, and do me a favor, make someone close to you smile today. All the best my friends!!