Belichick: 'Get Your Stuff On and Get Out There'
We so often discuss the importance of mental toughness but miss opportunities to actually practice it.
New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden was driving to practice when his phone dinged three times with a weather alert.
He read it, but knew it meant nothing.
“I knew whatever it is outside, we’re in it,” Bolden said. “I’m soaking wet right now. So no, I was not banking on [us being in] the field house at all. It gives us a few more things to work on, a few more things to be conscious of — especially in the weather.”
Bolden is mentally tough through years of practice under Coach Bill Belichick.
So is wide receiver Matthew Slater.
“I think that was certainly one of the windier practices we’ve had in my time here,” Slater said. “It’s great for our specialists, our quarterbacks, our skill players… I’m pretty sure Bill dialed it up; arranged it to be like that. He was grinning ear to ear.”
Slater, a team captain, didn’t for a second question his coach’s judgment. He instead understood why Belichick was so happy.
To the Patriots, the harsher the weather, the better. Bolden and Slater have been raised in the New England program, in which Belichick loves to use outside forces to develop the mental toughness his team needs to compete for Super Bowls.
Belichick is often quoted as saying, “Mental toughness is doing the right thing for the team when it’s not the best thing for you.”
It’s also staying focused on a goal in the face of adversity.
Practicing in bad weather, even though the game might not be played in it, forces players to concentrate, no matter the circumstances.
It would have been easy to go indoors, get comfortable and practice various skills instead, but if the Patriots had done that, they would have ignored a critical skill that often determines winning or losing: mental toughness.
As leaders, we so often discuss the importance of it, but miss opportunities like the Patriots had to actually practice it out of concern it might ruin our timing or execution. So we instead seek comfort while still expecting results.
Then, if we don’t get these, we complain that our team lacks the mental toughness needed to handle adversity.
Belichick was smiling in the rain because the weather gods gave him a chance to further strengthen his mental toughness muscle. He was grinning ear to ear because instead of creating a simulated situation, mother nature gave him the real thing. For any leader, that’s the best-case scenario.
What are we going to do today to make our team mentally tougher?
What are we doing to make ourselves mentally tougher as leaders?
These two questions will go a long long way toward improving our leadership skills and the overall performance of our teams.
Next time we see a bad weather report or adversity of another kind, let’s embrace the conditions instead of lamenting them.
Then, as Belichick often tells his team: “Get your stuff on and get out there.”