Dear Athletes,

    This week, I want to share a story, which I think we all can benefit from. A few months ago I had a visit from a young athlete who was definitely going through a rough patch in their  life. This athlete seemed to have a lot of fear that they were powerless to make school, sports and family life work out in their favor. While we talked about what was affecting them, it was also clear that they needed a strategy to help build up their confidence and enjoy life more.

    To start with, I reminded the athlete that fear is based on a feeling, not on a fact. Many of us fear things that haven’t happened and that may never happen. Facing our fears is the first step toward conquering them. If you have a fear of something, try to look at it objectively. Is it really imminent, and if so what steps can you take to get through or past it? Facing your fears head on keeps them from paralyzing you and allows you to take positive action and gain control over your life.

    While talking to the athlete I discovered that one of their biggest fears involved failure. I can say firsthand that fear of failure stops many people from doing things that would better or enlarge their lives. I see it all the time with several student-athletes that I spend a good amount of time with, by motivating and helping them get past the fears and challenges they come up against. I advised the athlete to try thinking about past failures as stepping-stones to success. Taking an objective look at our failures, the mistakes we made as well as what we did right, can help us do better the next time around. The most important thing to remember is to not let your life be deterred or derailed by failure.

    I told the athlete to think about people such as engineers and scientists who are systematically challenged by limitations and roadblocks in their professions. Their job is to get beyond the very thing that is keeping them from their goal. In their case, failure is information of what not to do or what needs to be overcome. Consider the quote by Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Or Einstein’s quote: “Failure is success in progress.” Both men reveal an understanding of failure. It was not something that stopped them, but rather an opportunity to understand their work more fully and something that would take them one step closer to their goal.

    Another thing that I want all student-athletes  to understand is that getting through rough spots and making life work for you requires some discipline. Creating habits in your life that help you feel grounded, such as eating properly, exercising and getting enough sleep, helps you to cope better when times are tough. And a good dose of persistence towards goals is also helpful. If you are hoping for something to come to fruition in your life, create a plan and then take action, such as doing something every day to move you towards your goal. Just a little discipline can go a long way to reducing, and maybe even eliminating, fears that may arise.

    Always remember your on a path of greatness on and off the playing field, never let fear keep you from completing what you set your mind to complete. I hope that if you need a little extra help in making your life work better for you that you’ll take the time to pray, think and focus. Always remember fear is a mindset and it should never STOP you from reaching or following the path that the creator has for you. 


Cynthia F. Guillory