How Overcoming Adversity Can Make You a Better Dad with Nick Dinardo
Nick Dinardo draws on adversity to inform and inspire his life as a podcaster, personal performance coach, author, and dad.
Nick Dinardo is an entrepreneur, a consultant, and a public speaker who focuses on resilience, personal growth, and education. Nick is the author of bestselling book The Game of Adversity: 8 Practices to Turn Life’s Toughest Moments into Your Greatest Opportunities. He is also the host of The Sweet Adversity Podcast and has interviewed hundreds of experts on overcoming adversity, dealing with trauma and stress, and the critical role it plays in our cognitive development.
Nick has dealt with adversity his entire life. At the age of seven, his family went from the American dream to a foreclosed home, divorce, and mental illness. He spent a year sleeping on the floor in a one room apartment where his family shared a kitchen with seventeen other families.
Nick had a great dad, but was angry at his father for not understanding his mom and her mental illness. He still hoped and dreamed his parents would fall in love again, but that never happened. They moved from place to place until his mom got her life back together. During this disruptive time, Nick turned to sports for role models of those who went through hard times and still became great, successful people.
Sports is a microcosm of life
Nick Dinardo’s book, The Game of Adversity, uses sports as a Trojan horse to explore the psychological aspects of adversity and how high performers focus on process, not outcome. Coaches like John Wooden and Bill Belichick implemented this idea in their methods. Wooden made his players adhere to a very strict routine and told them not to think about basketball outside of practice. Belichick didn’t care about the score so much as he did about the team and their cognitive skill development. If the players prepared through the process, the win would come without consciously focusing on the goal.
Focusing on goals can make us unhappy
Goals are anti-presence because you’re focused on the end instead of what’s going on right in front of you. You can’t enjoy the moment because you’re always looking to the future, but you can establish a new norm for yourself and stop waiting till you reach any of your goals to be happy.
We have a choice
Men have evolved to be very results-focused, and we feel like a failure when we don’t achieve our goals. This creates stress and our response effects our cortisol levels, which effects our sleep and the function of our bodies. It triggers a chain reaction that goes all the way into how we treat people and how we approach our day.
Fighting our natural instincts to relentlessly push for our goals is tough, but when faced with a stressful situation, we can actually train ourselves how to respond in a positive proactive way instead of a negative reactive way.
Kids overcoming adversity
Nick says what’s important for kids to overcome extreme adversity is a positive relationship with one adult. Despite the hardship his family went through when he was young, he had a solid social circle of caring adults that acted as a foundation of strength.
Dad wisdom after a childhood of adversity
Nick Dinardo is the new dad of a 5-month-old boy. When Nick thinks about the things his father did for him, one thing stands out. It comes down to love. He remembers his dad always gave him hugs in kisses, even in front of his friends. His dad always told him he loved him multiple times a day. Nick says not to worry about the parenting books and the latest trends. When it comes to being a good dad, all things fall into place from love.
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