On the May 11 Stick and Hack Show, Dr. Rob Bell joined us to talk about mental toughness. An author and speaker, Rob has been the mental coach for multiple winners on the PGA Tour, the Indy Eleven (Indianapolis’ pro soccer team), and the University of Notre Dame teams. He was the sport psychology coach for the 2013 USTA National Champion and caddied over 20+ events on the PGA Tour.

Rob has written six books on mental toughness and hosts sport psychology podcast: 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness. The following excerpt has been edited for space. Check out the full interview here.

S/H: How do I become more mentally tough? Now more than ever, we need mental toughness in our society and in our world.

Rob: We always say ‘adversity builds character,’ and it does, but it reveals character. A lot of times, especially with what we’re going through now, is we see people that deal and handle it better. And the people that struggle with it at first is like the key: We have to have adversity in order to be mentally tough. We don’t have to be mentally tough when things are going well

If I’m speaking to a group and ask, ‘Hey, raise your hand if you really want to have a tough week,’ nobody raises their hand. Nobody wants adversity. But that’s the only kind of situation where we do get mentally tough. And now like we don’t have a choice. We have to be tough through this kind of situation.

S/H: You’re an author, speaker, and coach talking about mental toughness with big-name clients. What is your athletic background and how did you come to find this career?

Rob: I played baseball and soccer. That’s what I always enjoyed. I didn’t really start playing golf until college. When I got to college — a little D-II school in West Virginia — I was like, man I can party and play baseball and have no responsibilities … what could possibly go wrong? So one night we’re partying near this bridge, and near the bridge was this cliff. I ended up walking off an 80-foot cliff. I didn’t jump, I wasn’t pushed, I absolutely had no idea where I was.

Baseball from that point then was completely over, but if it wasn’t for that hinge moment, I wouldn’t have taken that psychology class. It was like a tattoo on my heart. I was like, this is what I want to do. That was the premise of The Hinge book. I don’t care how bad things are in our life. It takes one shot to turn everything around, one person that we’re going to meet or one opportunity to make all the difference. And that’s the real importance of mental toughness.

S/H: People have studied athletes’ — and golfers’ in particular — emotions, control, and visualization. Is that part of what brought you to this study to begin with?

Rob: What can be applied in sports can be applied in life and then vice versa, right? I’m obsessive when it comes to this stuff.

The stigma around mental toughness is that it’s just flipping big tires, and physical exertion is part of it, but there’s not a lot of physical exertion when it comes to golf here. And then there’s the wrong perception of mental toughness in that ‘I’ve got to do it on my own.’ And that’s where I think it’s the complete opposite. I think when we allow ourselves be coachable, that’s a big step towards our mental toughness.

S/H: You said we don’t become mentally tough until we go through some adversity. But when we’re going through that adversity, there’s a lot of negative that can be associated with that. What do you do when that negative creeps in?

Rob: Being able to play right now is a blessing. I’m not really focused so much on the score. I was out recently just playing with my son and another good golfer and, the adversity hit me when I piped my vibe on number nine and I got 240 in downwind and I flushed it. Well, I could not find the ball and that was a situation that set me off. I was upset. My walk was different. And where do you think that next shot went? Duck hook left because of all the tension. That’s the part about golf. If you don’t want the adversity, too bad cause you’re going to have it at some point. It’s going to show up.

I think we have to deal with it like it was what part of our plan. We have to have that mental game — plan for it going in — and then that’s going to be the foundation that I think we can always get back to.

Listen to the complete podcast to hear Dr. Rob Bell talk about managing stress triggers on and off the course, Tiger’s legendary mental toughness, the mind/body connection, and Adam’s attempts to poach Bell’s quotes to bump T-shirt sales. Get it here.