After selling one of my companies, I was (briefly) an executive for the buyer (NBC Sports). There were some impressive folks there, but one guy stood out, and some of his words stuck with me… he stood out not because of his particular talents (I’m sure he was quite talented) but because he was so clearly and obviously mentally tough. He somewhat glowed the aura of mental strength and a positive attitude. 

He was a former fighter pilot (assume you need to be tough to get that job) and a fitness freak (tends to attract tough folks)… so his life resume would have given you a clue.

Anyway, one day, we were chatting about how his weekend had gone, and he told the story of competing in what sounded like the most miserable thing ever – a winter, cross-country skiing MARATHON (The American Berkebeiner, if you want to check it out)… Let’s not debate what kind of sicko enjoys events like this :)

Ok, so we were talking about him and his friends doing this race and how, as they were climbing one of the particularly grueling hills, one of them said, “We still have to climb several more of these $&#K hills,” to which our hero said, “No, we don’t HAVE to, we GET to”… 

I can still see his smile as he tells the story.

It always stuck with me. That attitude, that smile… and the mental toughness it illustrated.

He was basically saying WE ARE HEALTHY, WE ARE TOUGH, WE ARE OUT IN NATURE… life is pretty great… we are lucky we GET TO do things like this. And by simply flipping that narrative, suddenly, things look and feel different. 

There are things going on all around us right now that are causing stress, concern, and even some outright mental breakdowns. So I want to offer a simple page from the playbook of our hero above… the strategy: 

Flip the narrative you tell yourself. 

  • You don’t have to work from home with 3 kids, 2 dogs, and a spouse… If you flip the narrative, you GET to.
    • You might find a new way to be even more productive since you aren’t commuting or sitting in a non-inspiring cubicle. 
    • You can test doing calls while you walk, from a park, or in your backyard
    • You have time with your family you never had before
    • You might have more time to explore a new hobby or passion… you GET this new opportunity. 
  • You don’t HAVE to figure out how to make up lost money… you GET to.
  • You don’t have to find a new job to replace the one you lost… you GET to.

I’m not making light of tough times… sure, they are tough, but your attitude can not only help you get through this and come out stronger than ever, but your attitude might flip the entire narrative. This moment and the things you GET to do might end up being the BEST thing that will ever happen to your professional life, your marriage, your kids, your fitness… YOU get to decide what you GET to do.

If you want to know one of the most powerful strategies to help you excel in good times or bad, you need to check out this article on developing your own personal board of mentors and advisers.