Dealing with Negative Realities

Negative realities. It’s a part of life.  Whether we realize it or not.  Last week I was helping my dad clean out his office and we stumbled upon some old media guides from my days as a collegiate athlete. To put it simply my four years of college volleyball were less than stellar. My career was riddled with injuries; self-defeat; a battle of the mind if you will. I was so consumed by negative thinking that I was unable to set a ball to the pin. I was afraid of failure, and that fear kept me crippled.

My first inclination upon seeing this media guide was to toss it in the garbage, never to stumble upon it again. And then as always my dad said something wise that stopped me dead in my tracks.

“You know Les, we have to learn to integrate the negative realities into our lives.”

Ouch! But so true. My tendency is to run, hide, avoid, pretend that it didn’t happen because it elicits so much shame in me. I sucked as a collegiate athlete. But ten years later I can now see that I was my own worst enemy.

I learned so much from what I thought was a really horrible season. I learned how to learn at the small, liberal arts college I attended. I stumbled upon professors who taught me to think and empowered me to chase my dreams of becoming a coach and organizational consultant. Although I did not respond well in those moments of shame, I am now able to help others propel their life and leadership forward in ways that I never could have imagined. My thinking at times is still riddled with, “What if?” But, I can own my part in the situation in ways that I couldn’t before.

  • What if I would have taken personal responsibility for my actions, inactions, and reactions?
  • What if I would have shown up even when the going got tough?
  • What if I would have leaned into relationships and support instead of isolating myself in a deeper mindset hole?
  • What would my life look like if I hadn’t played college volleyball?

What negative realities do you need to integrate into your life today? My first step was to keep the media guide, instead of tossing it. I still left it at my parents house because I am not ready to thumb through it yet. But I didn’t throw it away. Today, I would like to challenge you to write about 1-3 negative experiences and reflect on them. Here are a few coaching questions for you to ponder as you embark upon this exercise:

  • How did these situations help you grow?
  • What did you learn?
  • How does this learning apply in other areas of your life?