Mental Toughness-3 strikes and you are NOT out!

Each year in my US History classes we watch an edited version of We Were Soldiers.  The movie does an excellent job depicting the training, fighting, and sacrifices of those called to duty, while also showing the sacrifices made by their families on the home front. It is not only a great movie for teaching the Vietnam War, but also the concept of war itself.

When I first saw the movie one line stood out.

In training his troops, Colonel Hal Moore (depicted by Mel Gibson) tells his men “Three strikes and you are NOT out.  There is always one more thing you can do.” That lesson can be applied to any situation where you are trying to achieve something.

You see, most people quit when they believe they will be unsuccessful.  They can’t see a way to win so they stop trying.  But I guarantee you that if you ask someone who has been successful, they will tell you about a time when their chances for success looked very dim.

When you are in a tunnel of doubt, you can either focus on the darkness that surrounds you and turn back, or you can focus on that one little pinhole of light and take a step towards it.  Sometimes you find that pinhole gets bigger with each step you take.

I always wanted to be a teacher.  But I graduated with only a History degree.  So I knew I had to go on to graduate school in order to earn my teacher certification.  This was easier said than done as my grades my first couple of years of college were average at best.  I applied to graduate school and was told “you’re out!.”

I could have quit right there and then, but I couldn’t give up on my dream.  I honestly could not see myself doing anything else with my life.  I had to find a way.  I told myself I was not out.  I thought that there might be something more I could do.  I took initiative, which means I took action without being told.  I took additional courses to prove I could get good grades.   I took jobs working with young people to prove I could succeed in that type of work place. I studied in my free time and took the teacher tests to prove I knew the material I would like to teach.

I re-applied.  They said “you’re in!”  But that was not the only obstacle I encountered.  I soon discovered that the school I was accepted at did not have a program where I could get certified to teach.  So once again I was being told “you’re out”  when it came to getting certified to teach.

However, just because the school didn’t have a program to get me certified, didn’t mean they couldn’t have one.  So I created one.  I put together a combination of graduate and undergraduate courses and, with the help of some kind professors who admired my efforts, the college endorsed me for a teachers certificate.

Soon after I was certified to teach in four states.

So the next time you are told “you’re out” ask yourself and others what more you can do.  I can not promise you that you will be successful in that instance.  I can only promise you that if you adopt the mindset of finding one more thing that you can do to achieve your goals, you will have more success overall.

Sometimes it takes a fourth or fifth or tenth effort in order to get where you want to go.   This requires the mental toughness to stay focused on your goal and make those additional efforts when things do not go your way.

Three strikes and you are not out!  I think this is what people mean when they say “refuse to lose,” or “don’t take no for an answer.”

It is certainly what I mean when I say, “the easy way leads you downhill while the difficult way leads you to great heights. “-bmoore

I just want you to know what is possible.


About coachbillmoore

Educator/Author/Speaker/HS & NCAA Coach Character Coach Read Coach Moore’s book “On Character and Mental Toughness” Paperback available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. "The measure of your character and mental toughness is the space between what you are doing and what you could be doing." -Coach Bill Moore
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