Embracing the Suck & Thriving Through Adversity: A Conversation with Bernie Holliday, Pittsburgh Pirates’ Director of Mental Conditioning


Bernie Holliday is a master of the mental game. At the heart of his interview, is a phrase he has adopted from this work with West Point Cadets: “embracing the suck.” Bernie described how professional baseball players must embrace the suck, but also describes how he has used the phrase in his life and career. He believes there are 3 ways people approach times that are difficult: 1) by evading, 2) by enduring, or 3) by embracing. The best of the best approach times that are difficult in the 3rd way: embracing the difficulty. His mantra “BE BOLD” will inspire you to get out there with your work and take risks. He believes that a growth mindset and love is what separates good performers from great performers. Bernie also provides several other strategies you can use in your work, play and life including: 1) his 3 ups, 2 downs, and 1 takeaway strategy, 2) how he helps others “focus on the process,” and 3) the importance of redefining success and failure.


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