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adversity Archives - Andrew Wittman


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Shoulder to Shoulder

When I was a street cop, the way the good officers judged whether another officer was a good partner, was not based on the other officer’s personality, gender, race, looks, cologne, or any criteria other than, will this officer backing me up, leave me in a fight?

 spartans batte formation

Over the years, as a cop, federal agent, and security contractor, I have been privileged to partner with many good men and women, standing shoulder to shoulder with me, facing any threat that came our way, and never leaving me during the fight.  I have also experienced many, many more folks that bailed out, and ran at the first sign of trouble.  Some of them, wouldn’t even show up and answer the 9-1-1 call if it sounded dangerous.  (Those folks, oddly enough, got promoted.)

The only true way to find out who is who, is to actually be in a fight.  It doesn’t have to be a physical fight, it might be financial, or emotional; it could be sickness, or a debilitating injury; it might be an issue affecting your children, your spouse, your job or a dear friend.  After 27 years together, Kim, my wife, has never left me in a fight (and in that amount time, we’ve faced some pretty tough fights).  On the flip side, I’ve never left her flank open.  We stand shoulder to shoulder, no matter what.  We aren’t looking to partner up with folks that turn tail and run at the first sign of trouble, either.  It turns out badly for everyone involved.

The ancient Spartans utilized what they called a “phalanx”, as their standby battle formation, to face any threat.  The warriors would stand shoulder to shoulder, protecting each other with their shields.  As long as the line was held, they would prevail in the fight.  If someone in the line cut and run, the whole line would collapse, the integrity of the protective formation disintegrate, and the battle was lost.  Be very selective of who you let into your phalanx.  Your success depends on it.

Boo Yah!!

15 Thought Filters Used By Peak Performers

The thoughts we entertain, (i.e. mental house guests) make us or break us, like the Unwanted House Guests from the old Saturday Night Live skits.  If you let negative thoughts set up shop in your brain-housing group, it’s hard to dig them out and get rid of them.  Many times, we don’t even realize our thoughts are negative.  Identifying destructive thoughts is the first step to getting rid of limiting beliefs that hinder our Peak Performance.  Peak Performers actually take the time and mental energy to check out the identity of their thoughts and dump any that don’t push them towards their goals.  Here is the list of 15 that I use to ferret out even the most stealthiest seeds of negativity.  If you find yourself dwelling on any of these categories, RED FLAG IT!!

ADVERSITY- a condition of hardship, anything opposing you, unfriendly, detrimental

AFFLICTION – to be distressed with continued suffering, trouble

CALAMITY – any event causing great suffering, disaster

Peak Performance Thoughts

DISPLEASURE – to be annoyed, confused, outraged

DISTRESS/ANXIETY – worry, anxious, fretting (this is the most preferred destructive thought category, favored by BILLIONS everywhere)

GREAT GRIEF – intense sorrow, tribulation, regret

HARM – injury or loss

HEAVINESS – despondent, burdened, depressed

HURT – pain, wound

ILL FAVOR – can’t stand ya! When you think people don’t like you.

MISERY – suffering, especially as a result of poverty or lack

SADNESS – depressed, miserable, pitiful, dejected

SORROW – distress and pain because of loss

TROUBLE – difficulty, unrest, perplexed, agitated

WRONG – injustice, anything not working properly

 Print out this list, tape it to the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, next to your office phone, by your computer,  anywhere it might help you to identify the negative assault on your mind. (Hint the news and talk radio love to bombard you with almost everything on this list.  Editors and Producers base most of their content on this list!!)
If you aren’t telling your brain what and how to think, there are plenty of folks out there who will! We have to take responsibility for our thoughts. We can’t keep bad thoughts from coming but we can arrest them and deport them.  Just like you can’t keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair!
Boo Yah!!

Crossing The Threshold

“Men who know themselves are no longer fools. They stand on the threshold of the door of Wisdom.”

Havelock Ellis

 boy and wolf

Wisdom is the skill and ability to make good decisions, especially when it’s all on the line.  Like the decision to never give up, never give in, and leave it all on the field of battle…and when you have been tested and tried, and you know that you have that ability in you, you have crossed the threshold.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of watching someone cross that threshold.  It was a prolific moment, both for me and the young man who stepped across it.  I was at a high school wrestling tournament that was stocked with the best teams in the state.  Teams filled with competitors that would be competing at the collegiate level within a few months.

I watched a rookie competitor go up against the opposing team’s captain.  The expectations were a quick pinning of the rookie. What had actually happened was a 16-year old high school athlete walked onto the mat, and 6-minutes later, he walked off a man and a warrior, having crossed the threshold.  He lost the match on points, was in the position of disadvantage the entire eternity of those 6-minutes, on his back.  But he made the decision to not give up, not give in, and he literally left every ounce of his strength and energy on the mat.  He refused to be pinned.

He dug deeply within himself, as deeply any professional warrior I have ever served with, displaying toughness beyond his years.  He could barely stand to his feet when the buzzer sounded.  He could scarcely breathe, his wind pipe had been flattened out, as he was in a head lock for the last 45-seconds of the match. (The same hold that had choked 3 others into unconsciousness, that day).  Being pinned would mean giving up 6 points instead of 3, and in the end, his team won the overall match by 2.

I would have never crossed the threshold without the Marine Corps’ help, and here this guy crossed over his first year in the arena.  I have enormous respect and admiration for him.  Success in any area of life is now his for the taking.

Have you crossed the threshold?

Do you know yourself?

Do you have the mental and physical toughness to leave all on the field of whatever battle you are facing?

Boo yah!

Play Like A Gladiator

“When I’m on the court, I picture myself as like a gladiator.”

Tyson Chandler


In the past, I have had the privilege to coach several people with terminal or life threatening diseases (many of them with stage 4 cancer of one type or another).  Hands down, these folks have been the easiest to performers to coach.  Why? Because each was playing like a gladiator.  If a gladiator didn’t win his/her fight….well, you know.

Someone who is in a fight for their life has inherent motivation, although not always.  Medical Doctors call it the will to live.  The same holds true with professional warriors, we have an intrinsic emotional driver, beating death or dismemberment.

It’s much easier to be disciplined in carrying out the process of performance, when failure to do so means dying. For cancer patients, the process of performance can entail many things, including diet and nutrition, surgeries, radiation, chemo, and rest cycles.  It takes enormous amounts of Mental Toughness, focus and emotional control to fight a terminal illness.

Anecdotally, the terminally ill are much better performers than the middle class professionals, who hate their jobs and “want” to pursue their dream careers or businesses, but don’t play like gladiators.  Always keeping the safety net of their much maligned occupation, only willing to face the lions from inside the safety of a cage.  It’s very rare to win big in any arena of life, but nearly impossible if you don’t go all in, sell out, and fight like your life depends on it.

As a coach, it’s much more rewarding to work with a performer who plays like a gladiator.  The cancer patients I’ve worked with embody all the traits of the greatest champions of all time.  They know what they are fighting for, they know what outcome they want, they know it’s a difficult fight, but they work at the process of performance like there’s no tomorrow, because there might not be one.

Get clarity, and play like a gladiator, there’s no guarantee of a tomorrow for any one of us.

Boo Yah!!

Go Ahead, Hit Me

“I can’t teach someone how to take a punch.  That’s about internal fortitude, you have it or you don’t.”

Mike Tyson

 take a punch

Fortitude is the mental strength and courage that allows one to face pain, danger, adversity, difficulties, and even temptation, and not draw back.  Without the mental toughness to not draw back in the midst of harsh conditions, you have lost before you even start.

Growing up, I was the fat kid and a cry-baby, and therefore attracted the attention of bullies.  I was the king of drawing back.  I couldn’t take a punch, didn’t want to take a punch, and would cower at merely the thought of taking a punch.  Guess what? That mindset invited even more punches to be thrown my way, and not just physical punches, plenty of emotional ones as well, aimed directly at my core identity, “the guy who was easy prey.”

Everything changed once my mindset changed.  Once I learned how to “punch” back, and to do so in a strategic and skillful manner, taking punches equated to motivational stimulus, not pain.  The Warrior Culture of the Marine Corps, started out by teaching me how to physically punch back, but in the process, instilled a Mental Toughness mindset that took root and became internal fortitude.

Being able to take a punch might not be able to be taught, but the Mental Toughness mindset can be learned, and deliberately assuming that mindset, day in and day out, will eventually lead to an internal fortitude that is tougher than steel.

Mental Toughness is a process and a lifestyle.  Controlling your emotions and conquering your fears is a game changer, without it, I shudder to think how dreadful my life would have been.  I don’t go looking for adversity, I don’t go looking for a fight, and I don’t enjoy difficulties. On the other hand, difficulties don’t enjoy me either, adversity doesn’t much like me, and I actually like getting punched occasionally, it reminds me how much fun it is to win a fight.

Boo Yah!

Quit Crying! Just Dominate

“…You just dominate.”

Al Davis – legendary owner of the Oakland Raiders


Dominate means to have control of or power over (someone or something).  This is how I like things; no crying, no excuse making, no claims of “that’s not fair”, no whining about a bad call or accusing others of cheating, simply dominate and make no room for these delusion-creating detours to even exist.

You won’t find me crying about losing, or accusing someone else of causing the loss.  I hate losing, even more than I enjoy winning, but if I lose, in any area of life, I know it’s my own fault for not dominating.  If I find myself in situation where things could go either way, in the spot of “hoping and a praying”, knocking on wood, wearing a rally-cap, or holding my breath for a lucky break, I immediately stop myself and take an honest assessment of where I failed in my preparation or execution.

If my body fat percentage shoots up, it’s because I didn’t dominate my flesh, both with food intake and exercise output.  If my family relationships start to go sideways, it’s because I didn’t dominate my ego and selfishness, at the expense of others.  If my career/business isn’t flourishing, it’s because I didn’t put in the personal and professional development training time and subsequent practical application.  If my personal finances go south, it’s because my earnings didn’t match up with my spending, and on and on.

I see this kind of thing in the sports arena as well.  Coaches and players throwing hissy-fits about bad calls or missed calls by referees or umpires, or a difference of opinion on a judgment call.  Hey, if the contest is that close that winning or losing is dictated by an official’s judgment call, don’t cry about it. The fact is, the team wouldn’t be in that position if it had just dominated the opponent.

I refuse to let others’ actions take me out of implementing my own game plan.  Getting sucked into blaming anything other than the fact that I was outperformed, under prepared, or simply not good enough to win, does nothing to help me get better.

The next time life kicks you in teeth, quit crying – spit out the blood and dominate!

Boo Yah!

Hold The Line

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

Dale Carnegie

300 spartans patience

Patience is the quality that refuses to give up, it means that you are: unmovable, established, rooted, grounded, settled, and single-minded (focused).

Let’s check out the flip side of patience.  It’s opposite includes: to vacillate, to waver, be unstable, are insecure, easily unsettled, unnerved, confused, bewildered, flustered, and being of two-minds or doubled minded, (i.e. splitting your focus between what you are trying to accomplish and your “backup plan”.  Reference the “Burn the Boats” story here).

Patience is the quality that keeps your conviction’s feet to the fire in accomplishing your goals.  Remember your goals are realized through conviction and patience working together.  Your belief that you can accomplish what you set out to do will be tested, tried, and put through the fire.  When those days of adversity come, when obstacles raise their ugly heads in your path to victory, that’s when you break out your “PATIENCE”.  The quality in you that says, “I’ve burnt the ships, it’s win or die trying!”

For my own motivation, I use the image of the 300 Spartans at the Hot Gates in Thermopylae.  Even if you’ve already seen it, go rent the movie “300” and watch it.  If you can get past the graphic novel gore, focus on the message of patience.  These guys held the line against overwhelming odds.  “But Andrew, those guys all died,” you say.  They saved their families and their country, they accomplished their goal.  I’m not saying we should literally die in trying to accomplish our goals.  I am saying we should look to and adopt a similar level of PATIENCE, to be certain in what we are trying to accomplish, to be single-minded of what we really want and then dig in our heels.

Hold the line against adversity and hardship!!

Boo yah!

Don’t Waste a Good Strikeout

“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

 Babe Ruth



I don’t about you, but this definitely makes me feel better.  I’ve feel like I’ve been swinging and missing quite a lot.  I am learning with every pitch though.  The speed of the ball.  The break of the ball.  The look of it when it leaves the pitcher’s hand.  My timing.  My swing.  My follow through.

No, I’m not really talking about baseball, I’m talking about my speaking/training/consulting business, specifically the sales process.  There are days when I feel like I’m striking out, over and over again.  Babe Ruth’s lifetime batting average was .342.  Translation, he only produced a hit about 1/3 of the time he went to the plate.  He struck out 1,330 times and hit 714 homeruns.  WOW! Dude was a savant, and he struck out almost twice as many times as he hit homeruns.  Looking at these numbers, and Babe’s huge success, it takes some of the pressure off to hit it out of the park every time.

I don’t like striking out, but as long as I learn something each time I get up to the plate, it’s a win.  If I’m just up there hacking away, don’t analyze what I’m doing, and don’t make adjustments, it’s a waste of time and a loss.  Because I’m a rookie at the selling/marketing side of the business, I have grabbed hold some great coaches to help me get better.

Whatever your field or endeavor, remember that every strike brings you closer to the next home run, as long as you learn something from it.  Don’t waste a good strike out, use it to your advantage.  I know I am!

Boo Yah!