Out of all the things you can do for your personal and professional success, choosing your mindset is by far the most important. Noticed I said "choosing" - that is right, you get to choose. Every day, you choose how you will approach the world and the mindset you get to have.
But, how do you know you are on the right track? How do you know if you are choosing the right mindset? A winning mindset?
Well, that's the real trick.
Over the years, I have worked with and been coached by top experts in mindset training as well as discover many things through my own endeavors and experiences. I recently wrote about the mental experience I went through in my last Ironman race, which a great example of how cultivating a winning mindset can power you through.
I've compiled what I think are the 5 most important elements to having a winning mindset and I trust they will help you in creating yours.
1.) You Must Have an Unwavering Faith in Yourself
Faith is different than belief. Faith is believing without seeing. It is knowing in the deepest recesses of your soul. In order to develop a winning mindset, you must have an unshakable, unwavering faith in yourself to be able to win and succeed. This doesn't mean you are blindly arrogant and ignore your weaknesses. It does mean that when everything is stripped away you have the faith, the belief without seeing, that you will make it in whatever you are setting out to do.
2.) You Must Be Relentless
Winners can go through defeat after defeat after defeat without giving up. They have an endless reservoir of will to keep going. They are relentless in this fact. The don't give in, give up, or ever stop. They push farther and harder. They learn, adapt, and go forward. They are absolutely relentless.
3.) You Must Be Committed
Commitment is needed to succeed in anything. It goes along with being relentless in that it is the commitment that has to be made for you to relentlessly pursue it. But commitment is really about your "why." What is your deep reason for what you are doing. That is your commitment. It is the thing that you will not go back on no matter what.
4.) You Must be Willing to Sacrifice
In order to have a winning mindset and to reach your highest potential, you will have to sacrifice things. If you are a top-tier athlete, that may mean no more nights out partying with your friends, or even as an entrepreneur building your business, same thing. It may even mean you need to change your friends. No matter what it is, if you choose to have a winning mindset, there are things that you will sacrifice to reach it and maintain it. Get comfortable with this now on your journey. Be prepared for it and realize that when you do make good sacrifices in pursuit of your goals, they will pay off in the future.
5.) You Must Be Willing to Take Risks
You will have to take risks to win at whatever your are going after. There is no way around it. Some risks are small. Some are big. Some have major consequences if they don't work out, others not so much - but the fact remains that risk is part of the deal. I look at risk like problems that need to be solved. The bigger the problems you can handle and solve, the more you can grow. It is the same with risk. Managing risk is a skill set like anything else. And you have to build up your abilities before taking on the major risks. What do I mean by abilities? Maybe they are more like capabilities. In order to take on a large risk, you need a few things. You need to have several back up plans in case things don't go as planned. You need to have the right resources and/or partners in place to help you. You need to have studied the risk and looked for all the areas you can mitigate it. And you need to understand the consequences and be prepared for them if it doesn't work out. Of course, there is the other side, which is succeed and you need to prepare for that as well. Develop your skills of handling risk if you want to grow your winning mindset.
There are a number of other elements, I could list. Many are probably ones you guessed might be in the 5 highlighted above. Things like discipline and consistency, etc. Those are needed, but without the 5 above, it will be tough to cultivate a daily winning mindset.
I was given a great gift last week.
As I stood in the starting corral for Ironman Maryland, I knew I was ready. Even with the impending hoard of stinging jellyfish that I was about to encounter for my 2.4 mile swim, I felt relaxed, focused, and ready. I guess it is pretty rare, but for some reason, this year had a huge jellyfish influx.
I jumped in the water and started my swim. It didn't take long for the first sting to hit my face, but it wasn't bad and I felt like I got stronger as I went on. I came out of the water with a personal best swim time. In fact, I beat it by almost 10 mins and had myself in contention with the top swimmers.
Now, it was time for the bike. 112 miles along the Chesapeake Bay region - a beautiful ride. I felt good. My legs were ready and I got into a smooth cycle stride averaging a little over 20 miles an hour. As we got into the course, the headwind picked up which made me have to work a little harder, but I kept the pace and I came off the bike with another personal record. I was pacing to beat my best Ironman time by over 1.5 hours!
I was really excited and envisioning a great finish after the marathon I had left in front of me. But something happened. In the last 20 mins of the ride, I noticed that I started to get dry mouth. The sun had come out and the temps had gone up about 10 degrees, but I was following my nutrition regiment and getting plenty of fluids, so I didn't think much of it.
About 5 miles into the run, it began. I started to feel lightheaded, almost dizzy. I was feeling "very hot," and no matter how much water I drank, I could not seem to shake it. I slowed down, started walking and as I got to about mile 12, I almost tumbled over. I stopped and sat down on the ground. My head was spinning. I could not stand up. I was cursing myself as I had set myself up for such an amazing race and victory over my personal times as well as for my rank worldwide as an Ironman racer.
I was on the ground for about 20 mins until I brought back up just about every fluid and energy gel I had had for the last two hours. I felt a little better and decided to continue on.
Do you know what is worse than running a shitty marathon? Walking a shitty marathon. I walked the 20 or so miles I had to go to cross that finish line. I doubted myself. I wondered if I should drop out. I worried about my health and if I was doing any lasting damage to my body. But, I have never not dropped out of a race in my life and I wasn't about to make this one the first - especially after the record times I had in the other areas.
I was angry, tired, and pissed off at the fact that I had a top finish in both time and rank in my grasp, and was losing it with every walking step I took. In fact, at the pace I was going, I wasn't going to come close to the time of my last Ironman - which I had been on pace to blow out of the water.
It was a gift. If I had not gone through this experience and had run a good marathon finishing where I had expected, I would never have known what it was like to feel defeated by this great race and find the mental and physical fortitude to keep going and get across the finish line. The psychological warfare I had to get through in my head to finish was the toughest I have ever encountered - and I speak on this stuff!
For the first time in one of these races, I truly understood why people give up and tap out. I truly understood how it can beat you. And it took every ounce of my being to not let it defeat me.
It took me 6.5 hours to finish that marathon. I got across the finish line several hours past the time I had been pacing for when I got off the bike. But, I made it. I finished it. I was defeated in that I did not reach my potential - but I was renewed in that I now know that I have a deeper reservoir to overcome and persevere through serious challenge. What a gift.
And now it's time to get back on the horse. I know where I need to train harder and I know how much further I can push my limits. I am now more energized and driven than I have ever been to reach my potential in this sport. And I owe it all to a bittersweet defeat.
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