top of page

The Truth About Injuries, The Unexpected and Control!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #174 - Watch or listen HERE!

Winter sports are off and running. And all this running, jumping, setting screens and cutting sometimes lead to injuries.

Two of my teams are in the thick of the injury bug. Ugh!

We have all been there. It’s that season that you can’t even make up. One kid goes down. Then another. Then another. And everyone is left spinning.

It happens in business, too. A top producer moves on. Another goes on maternity leave and another star gets moved to a different department.

We are off to plan B, C and D…begrudgingly!

Sports (and life) are wrought with uncertainty. Bad stuff happens. The funny thing is, as leaders we are all about CONTROL and we think this control can keep us from experiencing anything other than what we have planned. Then…we quickly learn, as Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” And as a leader, athlete or any type of peak performer, if you haven’t been punched in the mouth, your time is coming!

As I watch my teams battle through the start of the season, I am reminded of how much our mindset matters when it comes to dealing with the unexpected. Now I need to find ways to help them manage reality!

When adversity visits, what do we do?

The first thing we must do is accept that it is what it is, not what it “should be.” Last week we talked about the stories we tell. Adversity can throw us into story time, but facing the facts is necessary if we are going to have any chance of turning our lemons into lemonade!

Granted, there are times when our lemonade is still a bit sourer than we would like, but complaining about the lemons isn’t going to quench any thirst!

But, wow, does our negativity bias jump in loud and clear? Because this is our tendency, we must intentionally train our brain to act differently than it wants to! This starts by putting rails on what comes out of our mouths! As Trevor Moawad says, we need to “stop saying stupid $%&# out loud.” No amount of complaining is going to heal an injury faster. It may work against you.

Do you remember the study I have shared before by Emmons & McCullough in which he had college students write down things for which they were grateful, things they did that day or things that irked them?

The group that wrote down things that irked them experienced more symptoms of physical illness than those who found ways to be grateful, regardless of circumstances. So, let’s extrapolate…saying stupid $%&# out loud makes you feel worse!

But you said, “Be realistic, and the reality is that this sucks and who would be grateful for this?” Yes. It is what it is. That is real.

But being realistic does not mean being negative. As Moawad says, “Negative, cynical thinking doesn’t make you more realistic. It just makes you negative and cynical!”

I know, easier said than done.

Another way to manage “what is” is to focus on controllables. I have used this example before. When working with softball athletes I often hold up a circle. “The pitcher,” I say, “has no control over the ball once it leaves her circle. All she can control is what she does before it leaves her circle of influence.” We then move on to the batter. “The batter,” I say, “has no control over the ball until it enters her circle. She controls whether or not she is ready for it when it comes, but before entering her circle, she does not control what happens to it.” Then again, she has no control once it leaves her circle. We then move on to the catcher and the umpire.

Once athletes realize that they do not control what happens to the ball, we can start to focus on the things that influence the ball’s path!

It's the same with adversity.

We cannot control injuries, but we can influence how they affect our mindset, culture, energy, effort, expectations and experience. We may not be able to make things better right away, but we can do a million things to make them worse! To stay on track, it’s time to break out the controllables worksheet. (Click HERE for a copy!).

Regardless of circumstances, shifting our focus to what we can control increases our chances of success. We tend to spend more than 60% of our time focused on things over which we have no control and less than 40% on things within our control.

Imagine if we simply flipped these percentages? How would our outlook, productivity and energy change? And how would that influence others?

Write down a list of things you can control. What can’t you control? On the list of uncontrollables, what can you influence? Think about how you can shift your perspective on each item on this list. Is the factor something that can be ignored? If so, what strategy will you use to do so? Can you change the way you think, feel or act toward/about it? Is there something you can do to reduce the importance you are assigning to it? Once you identify how you can influence each factor, you can move them to your “influence” column. This keeps you in charge of how you are responding to the things going on around you!

Finally, in his book, Golf Beneath The Surface, author Raymond Pryor introduces the RAIN method. I see some merit in using this method as we work through the unexpected and uncertainty that a season presents. RAIN stands for RECOGNIZE – ACCEPT – INTEREST – NOW!

To keep from saying s $%&# out loud and to control the controllables, we must first RECOGNIZE when we are not living in reality or times when our behaviors are not moving us forward. What sets the stage for these scenarios?

Next, we, as Dr. Prior says, “sit in our current situation without trying to fight it or ignore it.” We allow ourselves to be where we are so we can figure out our next best move. It is what it is. For now!

We then approach it with Ted Lasso’s superpower – Interest/Curiosity. Nonjudgmentally, take a look at how you are responding to the situation. What is going through your mind? How is this affecting your behaviors? What does this situation require of me? How can I move things from the “problems” side of the board to the “solutions” side of the board?

I often summarize the act of hitting a ball as IDENTIFY – DECIDE – ACT. The “Now” stage is our action stage. It’s time to refocus. It’s time to reset based on facts not feelings. It’s time to focus on what is happening as it is happening and the behaviors that will give us a chance to make that lemonade.

In the end, it all comes down to accepting the fact that our future will look different than we wrote it up! And in the future, there may be some discomfort and experiences we would much rather avoid. Even so, if we can help ourselves by using our words as constructive tools, if we can shift our focus to what we can control or influence and if we can recognize, accept, be curious and focus on where we are, we can do what we can with what we have!

Not accepting reality keeps us from getting any juice or of our lemons and keeps us so far away from the sugar that we can’t imagine anything sweet may come from what is.

Tough things are real. As Dr. Amber Selking says, “They impact us. They challenge us. They change us. But they shouldn't control us!!!” We get to respond and how we do affects everything that happens next!

Manage the moments, no matter how tough!


P.S. Does your team need a winter mental game plan? Shoot me a text at 234-206-0946 or an email at and get on my schedule as you wrap up fall and look ahead to the next phase of the season!

Julie Jones

Mental Performance Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946


bottom of page