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On June 11th, 2017, the Pittsburgh Penguins  won the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row. If you’ve ever won a championship you know the elation, joy, and appreciation. But, you also know victory doesn’t come without overcoming adversity. Without it, victory isn’t as sweet. The Penguins experienced what seemed like insurmountable adversity. They lost their leading defenseman Kris Letang to a neck injury right before the playoffs. They lost their starting goalie Matt Murray to a lower body injury in the first round. Then, their superstar Sidney Crosby suffered a major concussion in the Conference finals with no estimated time of return. Most of the analysts, media members, and outsiders did not believe the Penguins would overcome and repeat as champions.

But true champions thrive in adversity. Champions follow their values regardless of what is going on around them. They don’t waver based on outside opinion.

The Penguins unwavering mindset starts with their owner, Mario Lemiuex. Who, overcame unfathomable adversity during his playing career. In 1993, Lemiuex was having one of the best seasons of his career. He was the league leader in goals, assists, and points. He was on track to breaking records, and his team looked destined to become Stanley Cup champions once again. Then, adversity struck. Lemiuex was diagnosed with cancer. The owners, fans, analysts, and players were stunned, and no one knew if Lemiuex would play again.

But what made Lemiuex great on the ice—toughness, resilience, and character—transferred into his fight in overcoming the adversity of cancer. And in just two months, Lemiuex sent his cancer into remission and returned to the ice. In his first game back, he received a tearful ovation from his rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers. Lemiuex scored a goal and recorded an assist in route to coming from behind and winning the scoring title and helping his team win the Presidents Cup.

The Stanley Cup Champions of 2017 simply followed the path their leader placed before them. Thriving in adversity is embedded deeply in their culture. They don’t believe any challenge is too big, any road is too tough, or any adversary is too strong. And regardless of what happens on the ice, if they keep that belief, they will always be champions.



The Penguins ability to thrive in adversity is inspiring. The question is, how can you follow the same path? Here are three ways you can thrive in adversity.

  1. Know your values

Values are more important to us than our lives. What values are your guides for a fulfilled and impactful life? What character traits do you want to embody? Your answer to this question is more important than any skill you can develop. Your values will lead you when it’s game seven, double OT and overcoming adversity is the only choice you have.

  1. Know your team

Overcoming adversity isn’t done alone. Research proves this. It also shows that you strengthen relationships by walking through adversity together. Who is on your “team” who can support, guide, and protect you when adversity comes? The Penguins leaned on each other during their playoff run, and Lemiuex leaned on the Penguins when he battled cancer. Know your support system and lean on them during adversity.

  1. Know your adversary

It is important to identify your adversary. Adversity will be internal and external. External are nature, people, marketplace, government, and infirmities. Internal are self-talk, beliefs, history, and emotions. You must be able to know yourself and the world around you well enough to identify and fight when overcoming adversity. Practices that can help with this: meditation, journaling, coaching, education, and mentoring. Be sure to practice identifying your adversary and your skills will improve.

At HBK High Performance, it is our passion to help people thrive in adversity and lead fulfilled and impactful lives. We do not want anyone to look back on their lives with major regrets. We want your story to inspire people for generations to come, just like Mario Lemiuex and the Pittsburgh Penguins.