Yesterday, retired NBA superstar  Kobe Bryant sent an especially powerful message to Gordon Hayward--the Boston Celtics player whose highly anticipated debut on Tuesday night ended in shock.

About six minutes into his first game as a Celtic, Hayward fell awkwardly and suffered a gruesome injury, resulting in a dislocated ankle and broken tibia. Players from both teams immediately recoiled upon seeing Hayward on the floor, writhing in pain, his foot in a twisted position. (Hayward underwent emergency surgery yesterday, and is expected to make a full recovery.)

Numerous NBA players have since voiced their support through social media. But it was Kobe Bryant, who retired from basketball in 2016, whose message stood out for its emotional impact.

kobebryant Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it's all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back, the game back THAT play back. But reality gives nothing back and nor should you. Time to move on and focus on doing everything in your power to prepare for surgery, ask all the questions to be sure you understand fully the procedure so that you may visualize it in your subconscious while being operated on and better the chance of it's success. Then focus on the recovery process day by day by day. It's a long journey but if you focus on the mini milestones along the way you will find beauty in the struggle of doing simple things that prior to this injury were taken for granted. This will also mean that when you return you will have a new perspective. You will be so appreciative of being able to stand, walk, run that you will train harder than you ever have. You see the belief within you grow with each mini milestone and you will come back a better player for it. Best of luck to you on this journey my brother #mambamentality always.

Bryant's advice is a brilliant example of emotional intelligence, the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you. (This subject is also the theme of my forthcoming book, EQ, Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence.) Of course, you may not be battling a traumatic injury--but you will face negative events that cause feelings of frustration, sadness, disappointment, and even rage to well up inside of you.

You should let yourself work through those feelings, as Bryant suggests. The problem though, is if you allow those feelings to go unchecked--to control you and your attitude--they can prove very destructive.

That's why Bryant's next words are so valuable. "Reality gives nothing back and nor should you," he says. "Time to move on and focus."

In other words, don't let those feelings control you; gain control of your feelings. The extreme power behind those emotions can be harnessed to provide unparalleled motivation, determination and focus.

If you're angry, don't take it out on yourself, or others. If you're sad or disappointed, don't allow yourself to slip into self-pity or become lethargic. If you're afraid of what's coming next, don't cower in the corner.

Instead, use your time and energy to educate yourself, to prepare for the challenges you must now face. Ask yourself (and others): How can I make this better? How can I confront this head on? 

Focus on solving problems--and using your feelings to inspire the hard work needed to put these ideas into practice.

And always, always, focus on moving forward.

As Bryant says, view every challenge as a stepping-stone. Continue to concentrate on your next step, and you'll be amazed at how far you can go.

The past is the past; there's nothing you can do to change it.

Embrace your feelings. Learn from them. Use them to do something great.

Because whatever doesn't kill you can make you stronger.

As long as you let it. 

Published on: Oct 19, 2017
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.