Three lessons I learned from sports on dealing with uncertainty.


Uncertainty ails everyone. It’s a matter of how we respond to it. Thankfully, sports have taught me valuable tools to perform amid uncertainty. Now, I’m grateful I can apply them directly to my life.

We all crave certainty. We want to know what’s coming next to solidify our decisions. Ambiguity and the unknown make humans uncomfortable. However, regardless of your career, uncertainty affects every person on this planet. So, we’re left with two options: learn to deal with it or let it consume you.

Fortunately, sports have taught me to choose the first option.

Nothing is ever certain in sports. Victory or defeat can’t be declared until the game, match, or tournament is over. Even then, there’s always the next one. Therefore, as athletes, we have to learn to manage and perform to the best of our ability amidst adversity.

This is what initially piqued my interest in sports psychology. I wanted to sharpen my mental skills to enhance my performance on the course. Now, I realize it was truly the most valuable preparation for navigating life’s challenges.

If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been dealing with an injury for a year and a half. It’s been a journey of uncertainty and an unknown diagnosis.

On Monday, I was certain that I’d receive my final diagnosis. Almost a month ago, I saw a doctor that suspected I had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS).

It’s such a rare condition. There are only three specialists in the country. On Monday, I was very fortunate to see one. I expected to walk out with a definitive diagnosis. Instead, I have what is presumed to be Neurogenic TOS. There are a lot of medical details I could delve into, but to spare you from boredom, I’ll get straight to the point.

It’s what they call a diagnosis of exclusion. Therefore, you must undergo every type of test to eliminate all other possible diagnoses, only to be 99% sure that this is what you have.

The doctor basically told me it’s an ongoing study, and it will remain uncertain for a while. I’ll have to let my latest treatment take effect before knowing what’s next.

For the first time in this process, he shared this news, and I smirked, thinking, “Don’t be bothered, Brynn. You’re prepared for this. Be patient.”

This mindset is a direct result of the invaluable lessons I’ve gleaned from my experiences in sports. Here are the three key takeaways from my athletic journey that have proven especially applicable to navigating life’s unpredictable challenges:

  1. When in doubt zoom out – The craving for more is a constant in both sports and life. There is always something more to desire, aspire to achieve, anticipate with excitement, or even fear. The antidote lies in recognizing and appreciating what you already have, something you once merely wished for. Through this perspective, you’ll come to realize that things often fall into place just as they should.
  1. Just smile –Uncertainty invariably breeds worry. Worry manifests in furrowed brows, tense muscles, stress, and fatigue. I’ve encountered these sensations on the first hole of a golf course, and they transformed rounds into slow and miserable affairs. Yet, I discovered that acknowledging these feelings and responding with a smile or laughter can effectively counteract these troubles. Indeed, laughter truly proves to be the best medicine. By learning to smile through adversity, you may find that the pain diminishes.
  1. Be present – In both life and sports, one thing remains certain—the present moment. Our minds frequently wander, fixating on the future or dwelling on the past, robbing us of the serenity of the present. Embracing the present is no easy feat, but it’s possible if you take a moment to simply breathe, set aside your phone, immerse yourself in the details of your surroundings, and relish the company of those around you. By doing so, you might discover that you’re living a little more in the moment.

So, thank you, sports, for teaching me to embrace uncertainty and relish the challenge of navigating uncharted seas. It’s a gift we’re given in life; it just depends on how we decide to see it.

The Good Stuff

Recently, Nebraska Women’s Volleyball team broke the world record for the largest women’s sporting event. 92,003 fans showed up. This video will give you goose bumps.

I’m thankful for the wisdom that sports have bestowed upon me. If you enjoyed this newsletter and want to receive more life lessons straight to your inbox, you can subscribe below.