Last week an incredible feat was accomplished.  The robotic explorer “Curiosity” endured an incredible journey to safely land on Mars. “Curiosity” travelled over 350 million miles. At the end of the 8 ½ month long journey, once it hit the top of the atmosphere, this 1 ton engineered machine had 7 minutes to go from 13,000mph to zero in order to safely land on Mars. They dubbed that time frame; from the moment “Curiosity” hit the top of the atmosphere until it landed as the “7 minutes of terror.” During that time, anxious NASA scientists had to wait to find out whether or not it landed safely. They wrung their hands and held their breath for 14 minutes – the amount of time it takes for a signal from Mars to reach back to Earth – 14 long minutes before people knew whether or not the landing was successful… whether Phase 1 of the mission was complete or it was back to the drawing board. There are so many lessons to be gleaned from this amazing feat. Below are just a few of the things you can learn from “Curiosity”. Be sure to answer the vital questions from each section to apply the lessons to your own athletic endeavors.

Lesson #1

These scientists and engineers that worked together on this mission didn’t have a guarantee of success, yet they were 100% committed. They were ALL in. They believed that the potential for success and what they could get out of the mission outweighed the fear of failure. They did absolutely everything within their control to set the mission up to be successful. There was no holding back. For some athletes – the struggle comes with the ability to even conceive of a mission of that magnitude – they struggle with thinking big. Others can think big, but lack the commitment it takes to actually accomplish a mission of that magnitude. Going ALL in means being OK that your best might not be enough, but you have to believe that it’s worth it to try.

Vital Questions:

Are you really committed to your goal?

How are you holding yourself back?

 Lesson #2

When you want to work towards a really big accomplishment, you will have a really long journey on the way to your goal. When you know that the path to your goal will take some time, it can be hard to keep up your motivation and confidence for the duration. There may be times when you get angry or frustrated at how long it’s taking you to reach your goal. You may lose steam along the way and be tempted to cut corners. It’s hard not to want things to move faster than they do. Even when you are facing a 350 million mile journey – all you can do is focus on the mile in front of you and keep moving forward. Every step you take gets you closer to your destination. Just focus on moving forward to the next step.

Vital Questions:

Do you have the patience and perseverance to keep moving forward?

What can you do to stay focused on the next step?

Lesson #3

Think about the last time you were driving 65 – 75mph on the freeway. Now try for one moment to wrap your head around the speed of 13,000mph. When you are moving at those speeds, you need some serious braking mechanisms in place to be able to bring yourself back to 0mph in 7 minutes. When you are in the middle of competition, the necessity to quickly adjust can feel the same way it would feel to go from 13,000mph to 0mph. The ability to control your emotions, to switch gears from feeling unbelievably frustrated and defeated to focused and confident, is an incredible asset to have on your athletic journey. To be able to be resilient no matter what obstacles you encounter is a skill that comes from the many skills involved in Mental Skills Training. It’s challenging to put those brakes on and land safely, but with these tools, it’s possible.


 Vital Questions:

Do you have all the tools you need to confidently face any challenge?

What mental and physical skills do you need to work on?