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How to Win

Mastering the Situation

Peak performance expert Dave Cross of “Yes, I Can!” sports often says that no situation has any meaning except the one you give it.

By that he means that no matter what happens, you can choose your response. His words came to mind the other night in a show in which Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson was interviewed by Bob Costas.

Gibson, known for his ferocious competitiveness, explained that one part of his image came from a misunderstanding. To batters, he seemed to wear a menacing scowl whenever he looked toward home plate.

Gibson says that actually he did not see very well, and that what batters took for a scowl was merely a squint as he tried to see the catcher’s signals.

Squint or scowl, the expression served Gibson well, as it added to his forbidding image.

Like the batters at home plate, we can look at the same thing and take different meanings. For some people, for instance, pushups mean punishment. Others see them as an avenue toward increased strength.

A story of a shipwreck illustrates the point. Two sailors survive, and they swim toward a distant shore. Suddenly, they see a sight that causes one of the sailors to increase his pace and the other sailor to lose hope.

What could they possibly have seen to provoke such two different reactions?

Carved into the side of the mountain was the word “Pain.” For the sailor who spoke English, this word was a warning that caused him to recoil in fear. But the other sailor spoke French, and to him the word “pain” meant “bread.”

Same word, two different reactions. As coaches, we must teach our kids that they have no control over what happens TO them. But they have total control over their response.


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