Why Your Darkest Days Matter More Than Anything Else

I walked out of the discus pit frustrated and distraught.

“How will I ever make it to the Olympics throwing like this?”

Nothing was going right, nothing felt good, and each throw struggled to soar into the field.

My coach continued to cue more over and over but nothing seemed to be clicking.

It was one of those days.

And it sucked. I questioned everything about what I was doing. On the drive home I repeatedly asked myself why I am doing this – what’s the point after a terrible session like that.

Perseverance through adversity and challenge in sport and business

Learning to embrace ‘the suck’

Fortunately, I’ve been pushing the limits long enough to know that these days are par for the course when pursuing greatness. In sport, business, relationships and life – there is no difference. Expanding our human capacity means getting outside of our comfort zone, our safe sandbox. Inherent in that is the struggle of overcoming the unknown and the new – which inevitably many times, can suck.

After years of feeling this in sport and business I have come to a conclusion. Surviving these experiences comes down to a very intentional choice.

A choice to accept the journey for what it is.

A choice to persevere with honesty and resilience versus frustration.

A choice to vulnerability admit that it takes overcoming the hard days to earn the great ones.

Presence in the Valleys

When we give ourselves the permission to step outside of the current moment charged with emotion, passion, and intensity we are able to acquire this perspective of choice.
Through this personal granting of permission we can free ourselves from the intoxicating negative emotions that comes with ‘hard’ and ‘challenging’ experiences.

The truth about hard things.

Like it or not the hard days are actually the most important.

The hard days are where we learn, grow and are presented with the opportunity to become better.

The hard days are one of the biggest differentiators of long term success.

The hard days must be embraced.
Embrace them with a deep breath and a subtle smirk – a byproduct of your new sense of clarity. Clarity in knowing that the simple act of making it through that meeting, conversation, practice or experience with your head held high is a profound victory in and of itself.

Your Defining Moment

In reality, the defining moment is not when an athlete goes for that game winning play, or when a business leader stands up to announce the accomplishment of a major milestone. The defining moments – yes they are countless – come long before during lonely training sessions, tough meetings and challenging executive decisions.

If you can’t make it through the darkest moments of the toughest days you are not ready to climb this mountain.
And the mountain is what stands between those who make and those who don’t.

Perseverance through the darkest days

The Journey is the Reward

I will have hundreds, if not thousands of training sessions like this before I realize my goal of the Olympics. But I will choose to embrace them one at a time – whispering in the back of my mind “these are the days that count”, and forcing that subtle smirk before plunging back down to the inevitable darkness.
These are the days where someone else in the world is giving up.

This article also appears on and is published here with the permission of the author


Written by Tyrell Mara

Big Hairy Audacious Goal Chaser - building inspired teams to accomplish greatness. Lifelong Learner | Leadership DNA | Future Olympian | Prod Mgmt.

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