Adversity has got to be one of the most critical aspect of becoming a high performance athlete/student athlete and eventually high performing member of society.
Going through adversity teaches us not to give up as well as problem solving which from my observation the youth has a lot of trouble with.
There are two kinds of adversity - mental adversity and physical adversity. What is great about sports is that we are exposed to both of them which allows us to widen our mental as well as physical horizons.
Working full time with athletes of all levels for the past 7 years has shown me a whole spectrum of behaviors under adversity, from players who break down because of sweat in their eyes or by missing 3 shots to complete work horses who perform at the highest level regardless of the circumstances.
One of the reasons I decided not to put AC in my new gym was to create some level of adversity. I made that decision after reading “The Gold Mine Effect” by Rasmus Ankersen who traveled the world looking to find out the secret to success of high performance athletes. He found adversity to be one of the most important aspects of succeeding. He proves that creating high level of discomfort leads to high level of performance - also through facilities.
Adversity can lead to anger and disappointment but it can also increase your level of competitiveness by starting to compete with yourself as oppose to competing with others. This level of competitiveness is only achieved by the most elite athletes in the world. Being able to perform at the highest level without any outside motivation (#MambaMentality) is only seen among the most successful people in the world.
Microwave, iPhone, Google or Alexa have got to be one of the best inventions of our times. You can prepare a meal in 3 minutes, find out in a split of a second how the universe works or reorder a case of Gatorade by just saying “Alexa, reorder Gatorade”! It has taken a lot of brain power to envision and create all of the technology we are surrounded by. Brain power that has been created throughout the centuries of adversity to invent all of the products to increase our day to day comfort which also decreases our day to day adversity which will paradoxically cause human brain to shrink within the next few generations. There’s a study that shows that domesticated animals have 15%-30% smaller brains from their counterparts in the wild!
My point is, adversity is extremely important to every human, every existing species or breed. Most dogs in the wild are happier than the domesticated ones, a tree that had its branches cut will grow a much stronger trunk, a human that is put through adversity has to build a new skill set to get out of it which increases his brain capacity!
Way too often I have players asking me about what move to use here and what specific footwork to use there, my answer almost always is “figure it out”. In most cases they find the answer themselves which shows the mental laziness caused by google, Alexa and unfortunately the parents who are trying to shelter their kids from failure. One of the chapters in “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanly and William Danko talks about how the kids of the first generation self made millionaires usually loose the money because the parents who have gone through a life full of adversity to achieve their financial goals try to shelter their kids from life they have had to go through, and what happens next is - “Easy come, easy go…”.
Even Dalai Lama talks about adversity in his book “The Book of Joy” - “I recalled psychologist and Auschwitz survivor Edith Eva Eger saying that the spoiled, pampered children were the first to die at Auschwitz. They kept waiting for others to come save them, and when no one came, they gave up. They had not learned how to save themselves.”
If you’re an athlete - embrace the pain - “If you do what is easy your life will be hard, If you do what is hard your life will be easy…”;
If you’re a parent - don’t be afraid to challenge your child physically and mentally. Kids that have chores at home are proven to succeed more than the ones that don’t. Demand making their own beds, do their homework, help out around the house. Those things should not be optional, they should be mandatory.
As a coach - don’t only challenge your players physically, try to challenge them mentally: ask a lot of questions, demand from your athletes 100%, praise for effort and not talent!
Adversity is perceived as something negative where in fact adversity is what makes us smarter, more efficient and healthier human beings.