WINTALITY 201: Using Adversity to your Advantage

[Wintality] – win-tal-i-ty – noun; The act of mentally turning an adversity into an advantage. “We all felt sorry for that girl because of X, but her wintality seemed to use it as fuel.”

Webster’s defines adversity as “an adverse fortune or fate; a condition marked by misfortune, calamity, or distress.” The definition itself is rather ominous, with words like calamity and distress. Often we are trained based on the words alone to just give up. In times of calamity/distress we say things like “If I can just survive …. I will be a happy camper.” But wintality is about thriving, not just surviving in the face of adversity.

A few years ago I had the great pleasure of meeting Erik Weihenmayer and hearing him speak. Erik’s goal (which he had accomplished) was to reach the summit of the 7 highest mountains in the world. One of his stories involved a graphic depiction of how mountain climbers cross crevices which can be hundreds of feet deep. They take typical ladders and connect them together with bungee cords, lay them across the divide and then walk across them with their very odd shaped climbing boots. One misstep, one point of the boot misses its mark and you plummet. After a dramatic pause he continued “Can you imagine having to cross that rickety contraption with full sight seeing 300 feet straight down and have the fear of missing a step?” Did I forget to mention that Erik is totally blind? For someone like me who is terrified of heights I certainly got that. What those of us who have sight saw as an unconquerable adversity, Erik actually used as an advantage. What Erik has is most undeniably “wintality.”

Last year one of my players suffered what could have easily been a career ending knee injury. I’ve seen it before with other players I’ve coached and worked with. She chose to have surgery and endure arduous physical therapy. After the first of 6 months of recovery I asked if she thought she was going to be as good as new. Her response was “I’m going to be 10 times better than I was before. I used to think I worked hard, but now I realize that I’ve got a lot more in me that I was never willing to let out before but my trainer has brought it to the surface. I’m going to continue working harder than anyone else out there because now I know what I’m really capable of.” She wasn’t about to just survive and get back to “normal.” She used a tragic injury to her long term advantage. What Mari has is most undeniably “wintality.“

Often our adversity comes at the hand of our own poor decisions. The majority of people wear the guilt of those choices with them for the rest of the season, year and sometimes life. Others dedicate their entire lives to trying to undo the decision, as though their commitment level and the pain they force themselves through will allow them to travel back in time and undo the wrong. I’d like to suggest something rather simple … it is impossible to unscramble an egg. Instead of wasting time on what can never be, start with the circumstances that you now find yourself in and make a fantastic, delicious omelet instead.

We all face adversity. Are you using your adversity as an excuse to fail? Are you hoping to just survive the situation? Or are you demonstrating true wintality by using your adversity as an advantage?

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