Embracing Uncertainty: Interview with Jonathan Hood

Name: Jonathan Hood

Hometown: Mississauga, ON

Athletic Career: Defensive Back for the Eskimos, Tiger Cats and Argos

Academic Career: Ph.D. leadership and Business Management at Western University

Founder, Coach and Mentor at Jonathanhood.ca  

Approaching the end of the semester is a challenging time for everyone. An additional layer of excitement is faced by those graduating or are experiencing other uncertainties in life. It is easy to allow anxiety and worry to take over when you are entering into the unknown, but embracing uncertainty and enjoying the present moment is a beautiful challenge. Jonathan has spoken about his journey and what he has learned about facing adversity and preparing for constant, inevitable change. Our outlook has incredible power in shifting the outcome of a situation, allowing us to impact our environments either positively or negatively. If you are experiencing a time in your life where there is a great deal of “unknowns,” try changing your energy and you will be surprised at how many opportunities, gifts and successes you have and will discover.

What lessons did you learn from your athletic career playing in the CFL that you apply to life now?


“There is a lot... you always have to be on top of your game and in doing so you have to be able to work well with others. You are faced with new environments, teams, situations all the time so change is inevitable. You can be benched, cut or change teams in the blink of an eye—so always be ready. You don’t win at anything by just walking on the field and performing well. It is hours and hours of beating on your craft. No matter what that is, if you keep doing and doing it then you get better and more prepared. In football we call it, “lights on,” so when the lights come on you are ready for anything. In life, it is the same thing. Lights come on in different areas of your life, opportunities, like interviews, and you want to be prepared for them. Even if you are given that opportunity and you are not prepared, you will sink. By being prepared for any lights that go on you can do anything.”


How do you deal with change and uncertainty in life?

“Number one, I deal with it before it even happens so preparation. For me, I’m a faith guy and I believe in God. That is a big part of where I get peace from, all of these things—change, newness—can bring anxiety. This disrupts your peace; as long as you can find ways that protect your peace, you’re good. When you are at peace your creativity flows and you can think clearly. By facing adversity and dealing with it time and time again, you can deal with more change. Then when more struggles come your way and you are already at peace, you can understand the outcome and know that ‘I’m good.’”


What are some of the ways that students who are struggling with the uncertainty of “future plans” can deal?

“I think students need to learn about themselves more. People are often not as in touch with themselves as they should be. For one, we don’t express our feelings mostly it’s just ‘I’m sad or I’m mad.’ There are much more emotions than that! They aren’t really tapping into themselves and learning what the underlying, deeper emotions are. We all need to spend more time with ‘me.’ A lot of people are afraid of being alone; I mean quiet time without your phone or other distractions. Disconnect with social media, go out and be with nature: go surf, toboggan, something! You will learn about yourself. Getting in touch with yourself and your own spirit and connecting with others in person can go a long way. Find what brings you peace, for you that’s probably going out and being on the water or hiking, do those things. It’s very easy to be caught up in the hectic campus lifestyle. Find somewhere that brings you peace and when you have ingrained that into your being you can bring the peace everywhere you go. For stress sometimes you don’t even realize what you are feeling and need to remove yourself from that stressful environment, go to Niagara Falls!

What are some tips for people staying positive during tough times? Describe your “changing energy concept.”

“We are so powerful, but we don’t lock out that power. For example, if you get stressed and become depressed you are actually changing the chemical balance in your brain and having negative physiological changes. You have the power to change the way you feel. It is not the stimuli that is the cause of your emotion, it’s you. You can control your emotions, so you can change the energy in the room - up or down. Emotions are contagious. If you walk around smiling, people are going to feel good and the opposite if you are walking around head down. A lot of the times we exercise the power of changing energies in the wrong way. Often it is exercised in grief, sadness and anger where it could be easily used with excitedness, charisma and love. I try to bring that wherever I go, but I have to practice it.”


What is success to you?

“Success, this is from Earl Nightingale, is ‘the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.’ That’s what I think success is. If you want to lose weight and you think doing more steps will help you lose weight, that’s success. It’s one step closer to achieving that. It’s different for everybody, for some it might be making more money or that dream job - it’s variable.”


You have spoken about women who have shown great perseverance in your life. Can you describe these experiences?

“I made a decision to listen, not just with your ears but in observation. Sometimes we are not cognizant of what is happening, so when you take the time to notice what is happening you can see how phenomenal people really are. I’ve seen how resilient women are in my life, my mother and sister [especially]. It’s tough to be resilient and experience things independently without immediate support, but my sister has done that in her career with fashion. I think women, in general, go through way more than men. It’s incredible how women entirely devote themselves to someone else [during pregnancy], that’s huge. I don’t think I could carry a baby for nine months. I think in female leadership it is different, there is a great ability to endure in women.”

Do you have a personal mantra that has helped you through adversity?

“I have a few personal mantras but they are situational. For example if something terrible happens, I would probably say to myself this Bible verse ‘God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.’ If I am facing a challenge, ‘rejoice when we face challenges, for they are testing your faith.’ When I feel kind of down then I will probably get back into saying a mantra, but right now I am trying to live the mantras. It all depends on what I am facing at the time. Self-talk is the most important conversation to have.”