Joe Torre on How to Stay Calm When Facing Adversity

Joe TorreJoe Torre was a nine-time All-Star as a baseball player and he won four World Series championships as a manager. Throughout his storied career, Torre was known for his calm and stoic demeanor in the face of intense situations.

While Torre admits that what he showed on the outside purposely hid the anxiety he was often feeling on the inside, he says that maintaining serenity—especially in the face of adversity—was one of his keys to success.

Torre offers this advice for maintaining your serenity no matter the situation…


In your professional life you should follow this: Control what you can, let go of the rest.

Why does this philosophy lead to serenity?

When you control what you can, you know you’ve done everything possible to succeed. That means hard work, total commitment, painstaking preparation, and squeezing every ounce of ability from yourself. When you let go of the rest, you stop torturing yourself over every defeat. (People in sports or business who assume they have absolute control over their professional lives will doubt their abilities the moment things don’t work out as planned.)

Take this approach, and you can feel good about your efforts at work, no matter the outcome.

Every time you experience a failure, ask yourself two sets of questions:

1- Did the failure involve some lapse of judgement, concentration, or hard work on my part? If so, how can I improve next time?

2- Did the failure involve a factor over which I have no control? If so, can I recognize this and quit blaming myself?

Use the first set of questions to take responsibility for mistakes and learn from them. Use the second set of questions to identify areas where you have no control, and to stop wrestling with yourself over them.


– Joe Torre, from his book Joe Torre’s Ground Rules for Winners

Setbacks are a part of life. Some are small—like getting stuck in traffic, forgetting something on your to-do list, or missing a workout. And some can feel devastating—like losing a big game, a job, or a business.

Big or small, setbacks can linger and affect other areas of your life if you let them.

That’s why it’s so important to catch yourself after a setback and thoughtfully ask yourself the questions recommended by Joe Torre. When you do that, you’ll learn from the setback and recover quickly while also maintaining your peace of mind.