A former World Series champion shares the simple daily habit that helped him become more resilient

  • Todd Stottlemyre is a former baseball player who won two World Series and now is a motivational speaker.
  • Stottlemyre shared how he coped with the loss of his 11-year-old brother, who died of leukemia. 
  • Journaling and daily reflection helped him become more resilient. 
  • This article is part of a series called “Leaders by Day,” which takes a look at how prominent leaders across industries are tackling various challenges in today’s economy. 

Todd Stottlemyre, a former pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and a motivational keynote speaker, spent years blaming himself for his 11-year-old brother’s death. 

When Stottlemyre was 15 years old, he donated bone marrow to his younger brother who had leukemia, a form of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. Right after the procedure, his brother slipped into a coma and died. 

Stottlemyre was devastated. 

“After replaying that day and those emotions in my mind and my heart over and over again, I started to let my self-hate and guilt take over,” he said. 

Stottlemyre struggled with the loss of his brother. He had an overwhelming sense of guilt that followed him into adulthood, he said. In 1993, when he won the World Series championship, he hit his lowest point. 

Stottlemyre said he “hated the person who looked back at me in the mirror,” and decided to seek help from Harvey Dorfman, a mindset coach and professional baseball mental training consultant at the Major League Baseball Association.

Grieving the loss of a loved one is often a complicated and long-term process. It’s important to seek the help of a trained professional if you’re struggling. 

In Stottlemyre’s case, what was supposed to be a two-hour session with Dorfman turned into a 12-hour meeting. Dorfman introduced Stottlemyre to a strategy for processing negative emotions. It’s a simple tool that any leader can use to become more resilient. 

The lessons Stottlemyre learned on building a resilience amid adversity influenced the basis of his most recent fiction book, “The Observer,” detailing an entrepreneur’s pursuit towards a more fulfilling life. 

Invest in a journal

During his coaching sessions with Dorfman, Stottlemyre said he was encouraged to capture his thoughts through journaling. This not allowed him to be more mindful about his well-being, but Stottlemyre said it also helped his career development.

“By observing our thoughts and prioritizing self-awareness — especially through negativity — we’ll have the power to change our perspective and change our state of thinking on any particular matter,” Stottlemyre told Insider. 

The former athlete recommended that you ask yourself questions to pinpoint the exact feeling that you might be experiencing. For example, if you’re going through a major setback, write down what it is and how it makes you feel. Once you’ve verbalized those emotions, jot down what it’s trying to teach you and what you take away from it, he added. 

“It’s a way of helping yourself through self-talk,” Stottlemyre said. “If you keep telling yourself to take one more step forward whenever you’re contemplating about giving up, pretty soon you’re going to realize you’ve taken a hundred steps in progress.” 

Develop a routine for self-reflection

Another way to develop a self-reflecting routine is to create prompts. For instance, Stottlemyre sets out some time to complete a “Sunday gamesheet,” which includes four reflections that he thinks about weekly.

First, jot down what you think you should do more and less of, he said. 

“Focus on the clarity you can create from those questions to help you achieve X,” he said. “Are the things you did this week helping you get where you want to go? And if not, how can you change that?” 

Stottlemyre also recommended that you write down what you learned each week. We often forget to acknowledge the daily lessons we learn, even though we respond positively to (and tend to be more motivated by) progress, he said. Making progress doesn’t mean that you’d have to reach a milestone every week either. In fact, Stottlemyre advised that you acknowledge your small wins. 

Lastly, the former athlete encouraged people to note what they’re grateful for each week. 

“When we become intentionally grateful and we find ourselves mentally and emotional of being grateful, we tend to focus less on what we’re missing — and that’s a huge step towards fulfillment,” Stottlemyre said. 

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