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Mastering Your Mindset: Secrets for Success from Mark Minervini's Book

  Discover powerful insights from Mark Minervini's book "Mindset Secrets for Winning" and learn how to optimize your mindset, overcome challenges, and achieve success in various aspects of life.


The Mindset Secrets that I Learnt from Mark Minervini

Introduction:

Are you ready to discover the secrets behind a winning mindset? Mark Minervini's book, "Mindset Secrets for Winning," offers a treasure trove of wisdom on how to harness the power of your mind, optimize your performance, and achieve success in various facets of life. In this blog post, we'll delve into the key takeaways from the book and provide you with actionable steps to put these mindset strategies into practice. Get ready to transform your approach to challenges, boost your confidence, and become the best version of yourself.


Building a Strong Self-Image:

High achievers understand that their self-image plays a pivotal role in their success. They know that avoiding negative thought patterns, especially on off-days, is crucial. Instead of falling into a rut, they maintain a positive self-image that empowers them to persevere. When things are going well, they embrace the moment, letting success fuel their momentum. The key is to drive these successful sessions deep into your nervous system through "perfect practice," which not only enhances skill but also bolsters confidence. By lengthening successful sessions and focusing on what went well, you build a strong self-image that propels you towards your goals.


Visualization and Mental Rehearsal:

Mental training is just as important as physical training, a lesson echoed by Soviet athletes. Visualizing success through internal, external, and kinesthetic imagery enhances your skills and confidence. Harvard University's research demonstrates that visualizing tasks in advance leads to nearly 100% accuracy, compared to 55% for those who don't visualize. Combine all three types of imagery for optimal results. Practice mental rehearsal at the same rhythm as physical execution to establish effective neurological patterns. Always include movement in your visualization, as it creates the neural tracks for optimal performance.


Managing Pressure and Overcoming Anxiety:

Overthinking can paralyze you when performing under pressure. Instead, utilize the power of body language. Box breathing, a technique where you inhale, hold, exhale, and hold again in counts of four, helps control anxiety and focus your mind. Your body posture dictates your mindset; by adopting power poses, you influence your emotions positively. Transform struggles into learning opportunities, as every challenge has a lesson to offer. Don't let pressure overpower you; leverage your mindset to conquer it.


The Power of Sleep:

Sleep is more vital than you might think. A sleep-deprived individual can have the cognitive equivalent of someone legally drunk. Prioritize sleep hygiene, maintaining a cool, dark, and quiet sleep environment. Sleep not only rejuvenates your body but also washes away toxins from your brain, enhancing cognitive performance. Napping, when done right, can boost your performance and creativity. Establish a consistent sleep routine to optimize your cognitive functions.


Empathy and Connection:

Empathy connects us to our humanity. Recognize pain in others and learn from your own struggles. Transform challenges into valuable lessons that contribute to your growth. Building connections with others fosters personal development, leading to self-love and deserving success. Empathy and connection are potent tools that help you understand others and yourself, enriching your journey towards success.


Conclusion:

Mark Minervini's "Mindset Secrets for Winning" is a beacon of light for those seeking to optimize their mindset for success. From cultivating a positive self-image to managing pressure, practicing empathy, and prioritizing sleep, this book offers practical strategies that can revolutionize your approach to challenges. By incorporating these techniques, you'll be better equipped to tackle obstacles, elevate your performance, and achieve your goals with unwavering confidence. Start implementing these principles today and embark on a journey to personal and professional triumph. Remember, a winning mindset begins with the first step you take towards transforming your thoughts and actions.


Favourite Quotes:

No one ever “fails” at anything; failure is an illusion, a judgment, an opinion.

Success or failure exists only in your mind. A setback is just a result that contains information to evaluate and learn from.

Buckminster Fuller once said: “If I ran a school, I’d give an average grade to the students who gave me all the right answers, for being good parrots. I’d give the top grades to those who made a lot of mistakes and then told me what they learned from them.”

Robert Browning wrote, “A minute’s success pays the failure of years.”

Go boldly after what you want and expect some setbacks, some disappointments, and some rotten days. Embrace them all as a valuable part of the process and learn to say, “Thank you, teacher.”

Sebastian Coe wrote, “I have won races that have taught me nothing, but I have rarely lost a race that has not taught me something.”

The great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “What does not kill us, makes us stronger.” That’s because nature never gives you a problem without giving you an answer for solving it.

Remember, if you play it safe, choosing not to take risks, you will never know what it feels like to accomplish your dreams. Failing is part of the process of winning and often provides the greatest education

Most important, never let rotten days make you give up on your dreams and the process to take you there.

The willingness to do creates the ability to do. —PETER McWILLIAMS

When you say, “I can’t,” what you are really saying is, “I won’t.” Whenever you are faced with failure, nature is telling you that you have not done what is required to succeed.

It’s not saying you can’t—it’s telling you not until you are willing to do “X.”

The Marines have a saying, “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one is willing to die.” How willing are you to make your dreams a reality?

The life you have is the life you have been willing to put up with. Willingness means you embrace the journey as much as the destination. You become the embodiment of your dream, and you live it.

Only when you are truly willing to do whatever it takes, and you align your belief system with your actions, can you reach the stage where no amount of discouragement can knock you off track. For the willing—nothing is too unreasonable.

Just as a tomato seed doesn’t come without purpose, neither did you. You were born with potential. Stop waiting for everything to be perfect! At the risk of hitting a wrong note or two, sing, my friends. Be willing to explore your potential.

Everyone wants to win, but only those who risk failing can become champions.

Setting a huge goal is the only way to find out how good you really can be. As Henry David Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”

Adversity causes some individuals to break; others to break records. —WILLIAM ARTHUR WARD

As Henry David Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”

Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve or become? How willing am I to make it happen?”

We will never experience what we’re remotely capable of unless we believe that the heroes we admire are really role models, showing us what’s possible—what we, too, can achieve and exceed.

Whatever someone else has done, we can always do better. With the right amount of passion, commitment, knowledge, and training, even you can break world records. Because whether you know it or not, there’s a record breaker in you.

But you will never know if you can set a world record, win a local competition, or demonstrate your true potential until you believe in your own ability to learn from your victories, from your mistakes, and from others.

You must commit to an unconditional march in the directions of your dreams. Then you will amaze yourself, and quite possibly carve a path that others will want to follow.

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO BECOME THE PERSON YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. —MARIA ROBINSON

We do what we do because it’s consistent with our identity. The goal is to close the gap between what you’re capable of doing and what you think you’re capable of doing by improving your self-image.

You can have passion, desire, a great work ethic, mental toughness, and even natural aptitude, but if you do not build the self-image of a winner, you’ll have little chance of winning.

To realize your true potential, your self-image should be at least at the level of, or preferably a bit above, your talent. This might strike some people as odd or even arrogant.

How could your identity be higher than your ability? Exceptional people choose to think about themselves in ways that contribute to their success. With a good self-image, winning is always an option. But with a poor self-image, even those who should win often fail.

One of the most iconic examples of a champion self-image is that of Muhammad Ali, who famously proclaimed, “I am the greatest.” Ali was the greatest boxer. He knew it. His mental game and his physical preparation were both a 10.

Winners believe they have what it takes to finish first.

We develop skills through repetition and instructions from the conscious mind until the subconscious is capable of performing them automatically. The self-image controls the amount of subconscious skill you apply based on what it views as being true about you.

The conscious mind is like the captain of a ship, giving orders to the “crew” (the subconscious). The captain plots a course, but the crew actually steers the ship. Or you can think of the conscious mind like the director of a movie or a play, giving commands to the actors.

Thoughts associated with powerful emotions are driven deep into your nervous system and are more memorable, and thus more influential, than thoughts to which you attached little or no emotion.

The first step is to forget about all the ideas in your head about what is wrong and why you should be doing better. Become interested in what you can learn, and look at your results as a nonjudgmental observer collecting and analyzing data.

Positive reinforcement should include: ■ Praise ■ Instruction ■ Emotional anchoring

You should minimize: ■ Criticism (instead, use messages such as “Needs work” or ask “What did I learn?”) ■ Negative emotions (replace with encouragement and positive self-talk) ■ Negative imagery (replace with desired images—visualize what you want to see happen)

Researchers have found that negative thinking virtually guarantees a poor performance, and poor performance fosters a low self-image. As we’ve discussed, you should celebrate your victories and give yourself positive reinforcement;

While a positive attitude won’t always guarantee a great performance, a negative attitude always hurts performance.

A positive self-image acts like the gas pedal or accelerator. But when you lack confidence, you are reluctant to step on the gas and may even ride the brake.

KEEP A VICTORY JOURNAL
There’s an imprinting that takes place for every successful action you have ever performed in the past. With that imprinting comes a feeling or emotional frame.

To create a winning mindset, your goal is to relive those feelings as often as possible. When you reactivate and recapture that winning feeling, you also stimulate the winning action patterns that accompanied it.

TALENT IS NOT ENOUGH
In closing, it’s important to know there are many talented people in the world. But talent alone won’t make you a winner or a champion. If you don’t have the self-image of a winner, you will become just another “skilled failure.”

My definition of commitment is simple: doing the thing you said you were going to do long after the excitement and jubilation you initially felt has faded.

The key to attaining that level of commitment is expectancy. Those who expect to win commit—not out of hubris, but because they are deeply and truly dedicated to persevering until they achieve a successful outcome.

Great champions commonly display an air of confidence that separates them from others. The best not only expect to win; they know deep down inside they’re going to win because they have committed to doing what it takes to achieve victory.

Winning isn’t everything—but wanting to win, training to win, and expecting to win is.

Our emotions and the taste of winning can and should create for us the exhilaration and expectation of being a winner.

Those who give up when the going gets tough can usually find a million excuses: “It’s harder than I thought.” “It interferes too much with my social life.” “It really wasn’t what I wanted anyway.”

This is why gyms are filled with new members in January, but by April or May few remain committed.

When you make a real commitment, you know that a successful outcome will only materialize as a result of executing the proper steps. You commit to a process— and you embrace the journey.

Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the summit of Everest, famously said, “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

When you accept everything on your paths as a necessary part of the process, you stop looking at setbacks and mishaps as reasons to quit, and you start looking at those so-called failures as important steps and exciting opportunities.

THE POWER OF EXPECTATION
Think about it. If you were absolutely certain that you would be successful, would you persist? Of course, you would! It’s a matter of your expectancy or a sense of certainty that it really is worth the effort.

Peak performers distinguish themselves from those who merely do well by having a particularly strong sense of expectancy. At the same time, they detach from pressure by focusing on process, which drives awinning performance.

For me, the greatest success came when I finally decided to forget about results and just concentrated on being the best I could be.

Peak performers cultivate the ability to draw on the emotions of previous successes, which activates a positive chain reaction of success drivers such as confidence, self-esteem, and positive expectancy.

But even before you perform a particular task, you can generate the expectation of success in your imagination. Try this exercise: First, put yourself in a deeply relaxed state. Find a quiet place during a time when you will not be disturbed.

Start with some deep breathing for 5 or 10 minutes: in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once relaxed, take the following steps: 1. Mentally go back to a time when you did something extraordinary well. Find a time when you felt successful.

2. Close your eyes and put yourself completely into the memory. How did you feel? Relive the excitement and emotion as if you were experiencing it for the first time. Recall as much detail as you can: sight, sound, taste, smell— everything you experienced.

Focus specifically on your emotions. Let yourself experience them again
3. Take a deep breath. Hold it for five seconds; then exhale slowly, evenly, and fully. This will help you relax and focus deeper. Now relive your memory of success again.

Allow yourself to intensify any emotions and enlarge the experience in your mind. Repeat the process: Take deep breaths, focus, feel the emotions, and intensify the feeling and experience of success.
Do this uninterrupted for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

Over time, you can work up to 30-minute sessions. Focus on images and play “movies” in your head of those positive past experiences and really concentrate on your feelings associated with those experiences.

Bring in as many senses to the image as possible: What did you hear, smell, feel? Use it all!

Soon you will learn how to stop dwelling on past failures and instead learn how to draw power and confidence from your past successes, recalling them on demand.
At the time those accomplishments were huge! Recall those feelings now and use them to empower yourself.

HAVE A SELECTIVE MEMORY
While self-reflection is helpful, dwelling on your problems, past mistakes, and misfortunes only magnifies negative emotions and engrains bad experiences.

As you rehash those painful times, your self-confidence plummets and hopelessness soars. If people treat you badly or you have a really bad experience, you may remember it for the rest of your life. It is one of the key evolutionary functions to keep us alive.

As a result, it’s very common for people to relive negative experiences. This is how negative expectancy is created —but not by elite performers!

Champions know that mentally replaying the same scene over and over increases the chances of reexperiencing it in real life. Winners choose to remember their successes and conveniently “forget” their failures.

The goal is to remember things in ways that will build your confidence and empower you to perform at your very best. It’s not that they don’t analyze what went wrong and work to correct mistakes and build up weaknesses.

They know how to take in feedback, make adjustments, and engage in “perfect practice”.

Unconditional commitment is like unconditional love; you do it with devotion regardless of what comes back to you. Without committing to unconditional persistence, you are already half the distance to quitting.

Those who succeed big at anything all have the same attitude: They keep going until it happens or die trying. Quitting is simply not an option. Super-successful people all share this level of commitment.

It’s remarkable what you can accomplish if you just don’t stop and keep learning. Knowledge and skill can be acquired through study and practice, but nothing great comes to those who quit.

BURN THE SHIPS
The phrase “burning the ships” means there is no turning back to old habits and ways.

Cortés is said to have ordered his men to burn their ships, leaving no option but to press on. The burning of those ships represented much more than a separation from old ways—it enabled them to complete their mission.

SMALL SUCCESS LEADS TO BIG SUCCESS
From small steps, incredible journeys can be accomplished.
It is so important to learn to build on success and leverage small tasks to conquer larger ones.

If we look at the top of a mountain without thinking about the steps to get there, it could seem so daunting, we may not even try. But if we can see ourselves, step-by-step, climbing to the first base camp, we can see ourselves climbing to the second and so on.

Most people don’t fail because they lack potential; they fail because they lose confidence in their ability and they give up.

THE COMMITMENT SCALE
Break down commitment into four stages:
STAGE 1—Participating.
At this level of commitment (if you can even call it a “commitment”), you enjoy yourself. Having a good time is your main goal.

But if your activities or endeavors entail too much work or stop being fun, you’re likely to quit, because you’re only committed to enjoyment without putting in much effort to improve or perfect a skill.

Young children rarely start anywhere except Stage 1. They want to have fun. If they are not enjoying something and it becomes serious work, they don’t want to do it for very long.

STAGE 2—Learning. Everyone starts off at the learning stage. You’re just getting involved in a sport or activity; maybe it’s something you’ve been having fun with, and now you’re ready to be more serious about learning the correct fundamentals. Or maybe it’s something totally new

Starting from the beginning automatically puts you in the learning stage. In this initial stage, mastering the basics is important.

STAGE 3—Competing. At this stage, you’re more deeply involved. You want to be good enough to be a respected competitor. Maybe you’ve even entered some competitions or performed on stage, and you understand that this is a different level of engagement.

You develop a training routine and establish some disciplined guidelines to follow. You’re likely working with a coach and practicing on a regular basis with the intention to improve.

STAGE 4—Winning. At this stage, your goal is not just to be competitive, but to win. You want to be best in class or, at least, the best you can be. You are willing to put everything on the line to be the best at something. This is the greatest level of commitment.

You aren’t just in it for fun or even to be competitive; you’re in it to win it!You’re already working regularly with a good coach, and now you take it to the next level.

You practice “by the clock,” when you’re scheduled to practice—even if you’re tried, stressed, frustrated, or distracted. You don’t just practice when you feel like it. You clear your mind and mind your commitments. You’re all in.

You can start at any of the four stages, including going right to Stage 4 with the intention to win. But most people get interested or involved in something at Stage 1 or 2. Very few make it all the way to Stage 4 with a real commitment to win.

That’s why the world is full of wannabes, but very few real competitors and even fewer champions.

As with many things, congruency is important. Your beliefs, goals, thoughts, and actions must all be aligned—in harmony and calibrated to each other.

If your commitment is less than your expectancy, either your goal needs to be set lower or you need to step up your level of commitment.

As far as I’m concerned, we persist until we succeed. Quitting is not an option!

GOING BEYOND CONVENIENT When you are unconditionally committed, you do what it takes to be outstanding.

With unconditional persistence, you don’t waver when the going gets tough. Instead of letting your commitment weaken, you “re-up” to the challenge and recommit. You go back to your original reason for making the commitment—your “why.”

I used spent resources as a motivator, always looking forward, not behind. I mentally employed the endowed progress effect and always imagined incremental gains in proximity to my goal. Instead of losing my resolve, I intensified my commitment.

If you want to accomplish a big goal, that’s the way you must think, because a big goal usually takes longer to achieve than you originally estimated. The mediocre performer sees a poor start as a reason to give up.

The winner sees it as an opportunity to come back and finish strong. If you don’t see opportunity in adversity and embrace it as part of the process of succeeding, then setbacks will always be your excuse for not reaching your goal.

The key is to stay in touch with the real motivator: your love for the craft, the process, and the journey. That’s the eternal flame.

When you feel like giving up, realize that at that very moment, you are at the same fork in the road that everyone eventually faces. If you quit, you are being just like every other coward who takes the easy way out and chooses to give up.

As Henry Ford said, “There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.” People can do much more than they are currently doing.

They underestimate themselves, so when things take longer than they expected (another underestimation), they quit or set it up so they fail. Then they prove themselves “right.” They tell themselves, “I really didn’t have what it takes,” “It wasn’t meant to be,”…

There is a saying (often credited to Albert Einstein): “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

What’s “meant to be” is what you make happen. If you really want something bad enough and you’re willing to work for it, you can become a top competitor and even become a champion.

The road to success can be long and painful. Don’t let the setbacks get you off track. The law of detachment reminds you that becoming too attached to any outcome—whether a particular goal or even a particular person —can ruin your life.

You become desperate, and you clutch and cling. Detach from the result and remind yourself that the current condition is only temporary, just part of the process.

Thomas Edison was quoted as saying, “Many of life’s failures are people who didn’t realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Greene “Eventually, you will hit upon a particular field, niche, or opportunity that suits you perfectly. You will recognize it when you find it because it will spark that childlike sense of wonder and excitement; it will feel right. Once found, everything will fall into place.”

But don’t mistake Greene’s stirring words for a magic wand. This does not happen automatically. It takes commitment and persistence. It’s all about your expectancy—and you are in the process of becoming a champion. Expect wonderful things.

THE MOMENT OF DECISION The only person you are destined to become is the one you decide to be. —RALPH WALDO EMERSON

Right now, in an instant, you can change everything. You have the authority, a single force. It’s a God-given gift that you, like every other human, has been granted to control the quality of your life. It’s the power of choice.

Although you can’t control people or events, you can choose what you think, what you do, and what things mean to you. These three decisions ultimately shape your destiny and beyond.

As you think back, are there some key decisions you made that, if they had been made differently, would result in you living a totally different life today?

Decision is the ultimate personal power. You have choices: what to believe, what you focus on, how you perceive events, and how you respond. Those choices create your world.

When you decide, you commit to something, at least initially, and commitment is a perceived fear for many people. The word “decide” comes from the Latin decider, which literally means “to cut off” all other possibilities.

That sounds scary to a lot of people! To them, “cutting off” other options sounds like giving something up, instead of growing into something more meaningful. It all depends on two words, “pain” and “pleasure.”

The secret to motivation is the meaning you assign to what is painful and what is pleasurable. We all have that ability; yet most of us fail to make good use of this incredible power.

Two people can have the same experience, and yet one person perceives it as pleasurable and the other person sees it as painful. It’s our associations that make the difference. Everything we do happens as a result of how we perceive pain and pleasure.

a powerful point: When pain-pleasure perceptions shift, we make entirely different decisions, and our experiences, and even our emotions, shift. As you regulate your perception of your experiences, you’ll define your own happiness.

DON’T FIGHT FORCES—USE THEM Because where focus goes, energy flows.

Ask yourself: “What energy from the past am I stubbornly holding onto? What emotions am I tying up, worrying about things that haven’t happened yet? What am I fighting? Where and how could I redirect that energy in a positive and productive manner?”

The more we blame our circumstances, or we live in the past, the more negative and compromised our energy is likely to be.

The minute we change our minds and stop giving power to the past, the past and the pain that goes with it, loses its power over us. The key is not to fight your anxiety or fear and let it paralyze you, but to recognize it as energy, a resource to be utilized.

THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION YOU WILL MAKE Of all the decisions that you make in your life, the most important one is making the decision to decide. This is the point at which you finally pull the trigger and take the step that you’ve been contemplating.

To make that dream a reality, you must go from wanting to change to being the change.

DO OR DO NOT—THERE IS NO TRY
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. —PABLO PICASSO

Start by eliminating the word “try” from your vocabulary. “Try” is a worthless term that accomplishes nothing. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do the thing and you will have the power.”

If you want to create the life of your dreams, then you are going to have to decide to take 100 percent responsibility for your results. Not blame, the ability to respond. That means giving up all your excuses.

“What did I do or not do to create that?” When you don’t like the outcome, change your approach. Do something different, but do something! If you’re going to accomplish great things, the excuses have to stop right now! And the trying must also stop. Do it! Decide and decide now.

ACTION CREATES TRACTION

An African proverb goes like this: Every day in the Serengeti, a lion must run faster than the slowest gazelle to eat, or else it will starve and die. Every day in the Serengeti, a gazelle must run faster than the fastest lion to avoid being eaten, or else it will die.

No matter who you are in the Serengeti, a lion or a gazelle, you better get up running. Delay is a disease—the worst thing you can do when trying to accomplish a goal. Delay is certainly the worst thing for a gazelle in the Serengeti. There is a gap between intention and action.

You feel it when you know what you ought to do, but you are not able to bring yourself to do it. Instead, you procrastinate and delay taking action.

Too often, people convince themselves that they’ll do something when everything is “perfect.” They wait until everything comes together or for the right conditions to materialize.

I certainly do encourage you to learn all you can and prepare—that’s not a delay. But when you walk around thinking, “I’ll start—someday, maybe soon, just not right now,” that’s delay.

Doubt is like a pebble in your shoe. If you leave it there long enough, it eventually breaks the skin and creates a wound. If the wound is unattended, infection sets in and spreads. And if given long enough, the infection will kill you!

Doubts fester and grow with delay. If you wait for the perfect time or when you think you have all the answers, you may never get started.

Dreams, visions, and goals are achieved and accomplished only through thinking creatively and taking action. The wheels of creativity spin with action. And if you’re worried about making mistakes, you need to adjust your expectation.

When you pursue a goal, it’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly. It’s better to take a small step than no step at all. It’s better to make mistakes and learn lessons than to make no mistakes and learn nothing.

It’s not enough to have knowledge, a dream, or passion; it’s what you do with what you know that counts. The best time to take action is now!

REVERSING POLARITY Our minds can be masterful at creating compelling arguments for justifying inaction. But our minds can be just as powerful at motivating us. It’s our perspective that needs to change.

Here’s the secret: Reverse the polarity of your fears, so instead of them crippling you, they inspire you.

Ask yourself, “What will it cost me if I don’t take action? What will I lose out on, miss, or fail to experience in the most important areas of my life?”

By zooming in on the long-term pain created by procrastination and bringing it into the present moment, you can leverage your fears. You do this by asking questions that illuminate the long-term consequences of delay.

When you’re at a decision crossroads, ask yourself, “If I don’t take action, what will it cost me in terms of health, money, relationships, career, self-esteem, joy, happiness, and freedom?”

Short-term pain is a more powerful motivator than short-term pleasure. But the key is that you use it in a way that serves you.

The question to ask is, “What type of pain will I experience in the long term if I don’t take action, and what will it cost me if I continue to procrastinate?”

Most great accomplishments require having the courage to act before the confidence arrives. When you embrace your fears, you defuse them, and in taking action, you dissolve them.

Here is the bottom line: You can dream, you can think positively, you can plan and set goals, but unless you act, nothing will materialize and your fears will still be there.

Your hopes of success and greatness rest on whether or not your willingness to act is greater than your fears and apathy. Destiny favors those who act.

Your goal is to get to the point where you are well rounded and at least “good” in every category.

If you never make important decisions, you won’t build decision-making “muscles.” You’ll end up like the person who never exercises and whose muscles are weak—only in this case, your decision-making muscles atrophy.

When that happens, you’re more prone to make poor decisions, which will make your circumstances even worse. You’ll lose confidence in your ability to make decisions, and your thinking will become smaller as you focus on playing it safe and not making a mistake.

You need to be proactive, starting with small decisions in the areas you are having the most difficulty with. Then, as you build confidence in your decision making, you’ll get more comfortable.

When things don’t work out as planned, you learn the lessons and move on to the next decision—and even bigger decisions—with greater clarity, insight, and information.

A DIET FOR YOUR MIND
Here’s the exercise: Whenever you have a negative thought, you immediately replace it with a positive thought. You won’t just stop thinking negatively or always think positively.

Rather, you learn to think positive thoughts as often as possible, and you learn to respond to negative thoughts with solutions. The key is not holding onto a negative feeling any longer than it takes to recognize and acknowledge it. You notice it, replace it, and let it go!

By taking the seven-day mental diet challenge, you will quickly discover how much of that internal chatter is disempowering. Replacing our negative thoughts means we have to communicate positively with ourselves. This is a very powerful mindfulness technique.

Think of it as “replacement therapy.”

THE QUALITY OF YOUR COMMUNICATION
The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your questions. When you ask empowering questions, you get empowering answers. Ask disempowering questions, you get the opposite.

The words you say have a powerful impact on those around you, and they have an even bigger impact on you, because you are constantly talking to yourself all day, every day. Monitor your thoughts.

If you are like most people, you will notice some key little phrases that you use over and over again. Do your words empower you, or do they program your subconscious for insecurity and failure?

The people closest to you could be the poorest sources of advice. Why? Because they care about you, and they want to protect you from failure and disappointment.

First, seek wisdom, not advice. Advice tells you what to do; wisdom tells you how to figure out what to do. If you rely on advice, you will always need advice. But with wisdom, you can learn how to be the master of your own destiny.

Second, avoid all that weakens you. There’s a very simple litmus test: If it’s not constructive or encouraging, it’s weakening you. It can be something you don’t like hearing, but it should be constructive and solution-based.

Rarely have I met a highly successful person who wasn’t encouraging, but I have met many unsuccessful people who always seem to see the negative side of things, and they can’t wait to share it with the world. Avoid those people!

Third, seek out those who are smarter than you, are more skilled than you, and have more proven success than you (particularly in the area you want to succeed in). Note that those closest to you, your family and friends, may or may not meet these criteria.

And when seeking help, use the 2:1 rule: Listen twice as much as you talk, and if you’re going to talk, ask questions instead of trying to prove how smart you are.

FORM YOUR OWN “BOARD” Large corporations have boards of directors. The role of the board is to help direct the company’s strategy and provide guidance. Board members include a carefully selected mix of professional experts with a range of expertise.

Together, these board members help the company meet its goals.

In the same way, we all have a “board of directors.” Your board members could be your mother and father, your priest or minister or other spiritual leaders, your best friend, or your spouse and immediate family—whomever you choose and trust.

But don’t limit yourself to the people in your immediate circle.

Change happens in an instant. You can decide to be the owner of your world—or a victim of your circumstances. You can flip the switch and activate your dreams, starting today. But first you have to decide to decide.

Remember, your reality isn’t waiting to be discovered, it’s waiting to be created. But to create the life you dream of, you need to stop thinking in terms of fear, anxiety, and nervousness.

Instead, think in terms of excitement and step into the spotlight of whatever it is you want to do. Founder of the National Speakers Association, Cavett Robert used to say, “Don’t try to get rid of the butterflies in your stomach. Just get them to fly in formation.”

PRIORITIZING YOUR PASSION AND GOAL GETTING
When people have passion, nobody has to twist their arm to get them to work or practice.

Go ahead: Flip the switch; there is no better time. Decide right now to commit to being the best version of yourself and never turn back.

“I wish I could do that; I just don’t have enough time”—people tell me this all the time. But what they really mean is it’s just not important enough.

GETTING VERSUS SETTING What shows up in your life is not what you want or hope to have, nor is it about the goals you set. It’s all about what you prioritize and focus on the most.

Priorities are the heart and soul of the goals you ultimately achieve, because you’ll willingly make the sacrifices required to bring them to fruition.

Goal setting might include such objectives as eating a healthier diet, losing weight, going to the gym more often, or saving for retirement. These are general “wishes” of what you’d like to see happen. Goal getting, though, is more involved and specific.

Goal getting means really going after something with a well-thought-out plan and a commitment to stay the course.

The research reveals convincingly that when people are asked just to “do their best,” they don’t. But with detailed, measurable goals and a deadline—performance improves. The more specific the goals, the better the chances of attaining them.

The Three Stages of a Goal When most people make a goal, by default, they set an “outcome goal”—that is, the goal is the result.
The steps to success for every goal can be broken down into three stages: 1. Process 2. Performance 3. Outcome

Process goals are the most important part of goal getting, because if you get the process right, the result takes care of itself. For example, you tell yourself, “In my workout today, for my chest training I need to do 10 reps per set for four sets.” That’s the process.

Your performance goal could be to increase the maximum weight by 10 percent and squeeze out two extra reps. While the outcome goal is to have 4 percent more lean muscle mass, with a body fat reading of 10 percent by December 31.

This is the kind of specificity that improves performance and the probability of success.

WHAT IS YOUR MASTER PRIORITY?
you can’t do it all at once and be great at everything. One big goal must come first. Which is it going to be? Whatever is most important to you is your master priority, but there’s a compromise here. You can’t have multiple master priorities.

There can be only one primary goal, and everything else revolves around it.
Ask yourself this question: “When it really comes down to it, what does everything else take a back seat to?”
That’s your master priority.

Your master priority should be a dream worth trading your life’s time for, and nothing is allowed to hinder your progress toward attaining it.

When you set your goals and prioritize them, one supported by the others, then achieving your primary goal sets off a domino effect. When one goal is achieved, it clears the way for the next.

WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT ALWAYS WINS OVER WHAT YOU WANT THE MOST Prioritization is a process, and it starts with some deep introspection around who you are, who you want to be, and what you really want to accomplish. Most people, though, have no clue about what they really want.

Sure, they know what they’d like to have: a great job, financial security, health, happiness, respect, a good family life . . .

But in the midst of their daydreaming, they don’t really have a clear vision of what is most important to them.

Wishing, hoping, and wanting is one thing; what you actually pursue and how you live your life is another. In between is something called prioritizing.

Dr. Wayne Dyer “You must learn to live your life independent of the good opinion of others.” To live the life you truly desire, you must be true to your passion. You will be able to identify and pursue your dreams, not just by setting goals but by “getting” them.

The things you assign the most importance to and put the most time into are the things that are going to show up in your life the most. What you prioritize is what you get.

If you were to list what is most important to you, and then contrast that list with how you are living your life, would it be congruent?

Consciously or unconsciously, you’ll choose your priorities. If you do so consciously, you’ll be in charge of your life. If you act unconsciously, your priorities will “just happen.” Remember, what’s most important always wins over what you want the most.

THE POWER OF WHY
Once you establish your master priority and define your goals, to achieve each goal you need to consider one very important question: “Why am I doing this?” Without a meaningful “why,” you are likely to lose motivation.

Your what, when, and how need a big why! The why defines your “pay value.” It explains why you are making the sacrifices to attain your goals and what the payoff will be.

This is your mission. You can even create a mission statement, a summation of your personal reasons for wanting to accomplish your goal.

Charles Garfield wrote, “With few exceptions, peak performers are highly motivated by a deep and personal sense of mission, which is distinctly different from highly measurable goals.”

People who wake up each day with a primary purpose, and with a clear what, why, when, and how they are going to be the best they can be, have little in common with those who just wake up and go about their day. It’s the difference between great achievers and everyone else.

What’s your mission, and why are you doing what you are doing?

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP

Take a moment to write down all the people you spoke with and interacted with over the past six months, the people that dominated the majority of your time. List them all. If there are too many to remember, you could use your cell phone and text message log to jog your memory.

Write down everyone’s name. Now, on the other side of the page, write down your goals. Next, draw a line and connect people on the list who have a positive influence or something to do with helping you reach your goals.

If you’re like most people, there won’t be too many connecting lines. Just a lot of wasted time with people, places, and things that do little to advance you in the direction of your dreams.

If you want to be a champion, if you want to do amazing things, you need to immerse yourself in the people, places, and things that are going to support your vision. Minimize the time you spend on distractions. If you can’t find people to inspire you, read books.

THE UNBALANCED CHAMPION
If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.
—MARC ANTHONY

Would an elite athlete take a drug that would guarantee phenomenal success in his or her sport (e.g., winning an Olympic gold medal), but the consequence would be dying five years later? Half of the athletes said yes.

It’s not that these athletes would definitely take such a substance. Rather, it shows the extreme intensity and commitment found among elite competitors. This is a classic case of being “unbalanced.”

Champions in all endeavors, from sports to the business world, are trying to achieve something extraordinary. They’re going for the gold medal (or the equivalent in their area).

This is not the kind of pursuit that generally supports a balanced life—lots of social time and numerous hobbies. It calls for a laser focus and sacrifices.

TIME BLOCKING
It would be wise if the people closest to you are onboard with what you’re doing. To a certain degree, it takes a self-sufficient partner to accommodate an exceptional performer. And that time is sacred and set aside for the single-minded pursuit of your goal.

No one ever “fails” at anything; failure is an illusion, a judgment, an opinion.

Success or failure exists only in your mind. A setback is just a result that contains information to evaluate and learn from.

Buckminster Fuller once said: “If I ran a school, I’d give an average grade to the students who gave me all the right answers, for being good parrots. I’d give the top grades to those who made a lot of mistakes and then told me what they learned from them.”

Robert Browning wrote, “A minute’s success pays the failure of years.”

Go boldly after what you want and expect some setbacks, some disappointments, and some rotten days. Embrace them all as a valuable part of the process and learn to say, “Thank you, teacher.”

Sebastian Coe wrote, “I have won races that have taught me nothing, but I have rarely lost a race that has not taught me something.”

The great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “What does not kill us, makes us stronger.” That’s because nature never gives you a problem without giving you an answer for solving it.

Remember, if you play it safe, choosing not to take risks, you will never know what it feels like to accomplish your dreams. Failing is part of the process of winning and often provides the greatest education

Most important, never let rotten days make you give up on your dreams and the process to take you there.

The willingness to do creates the ability to do. —PETER McWILLIAMS

When you say, “I can’t,” what you are really saying is, “I won’t.” Whenever you are faced with failure, nature is telling you that you have not done what is required to succeed.

It’s not saying you can’t—it’s telling you not until you are willing to do “X.”

The Marines have a saying, “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one is willing to die.” How willing are you to make your dreams a reality?

The life you have is the life you have been willing to put up with. Willingness means you embrace the journey as much as the destination. You become the embodiment of your dream, and you live it.

Only when you are truly willing to do whatever it takes, and you align your belief system with your actions, can you reach the stage where no amount of discouragement can knock you off track. For the willing—nothing is too unreasonable.

Just as a tomato seed doesn’t come without purpose, neither did you. You were born with potential. Stop waiting for everything to be perfect! At the risk of hitting a wrong note or two, sing, my friends. Be willing to explore your potential.

Everyone wants to win, but only those who risk failing can become champions.

Setting a huge goal is the only way to find out how good you really can be. As Henry David Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”

Adversity causes some individuals to break; others to break records. —WILLIAM ARTHUR WARD

As Henry David Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”

Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve or become? How willing am I to make it happen?”

We will never experience what we’re remotely capable of unless we believe that the heroes we admire are really role models, showing us what’s possible—what we, too, can achieve and exceed.

Whatever someone else has done, we can always do better. With the right amount of passion, commitment, knowledge, and training, even you can break world records. Because whether you know it or not, there’s a record breaker in you.

But you will never know if you can set a world record, win a local competition, or demonstrate your true potential until you believe in your own ability to learn from your victories, from your mistakes, and from others.

You must commit to an unconditional march in the directions of your dreams. Then you will amaze yourself, and quite possibly carve a path that others will want to follow.

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO BECOME THE PERSON YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. —MARIA ROBINSON

We do what we do because it’s consistent with our identity. The goal is to close the gap between what you’re capable of doing and what you think you’re capable of doing by improving your self-image.

You can have passion, desire, a great work ethic, mental toughness, and even natural aptitude, but if you do not build the self-image of a winner, you’ll have little chance of winning.

To realize your true potential, your self-image should be at least at the level of, or preferably a bit above, your talent. This might strike some people as odd or even arrogant.

How could your identity be higher than your ability? Exceptional people choose to think about themselves in ways that contribute to their success. With a good self-image, winning is always an option. But with a poor self-image, even those who should win often fail.

One of the most iconic examples of a champion self-image is that of Muhammad Ali, who famously proclaimed, “I am the greatest.” Ali was the greatest boxer. He knew it. His mental game and his physical preparation were both a 10.

Winners believe they have what it takes to finish first.

We develop skills through repetition and instructions from the conscious mind until the subconscious is capable of performing them automatically. The self-image controls the amount of subconscious skill you apply based on what it views as being true about you.

The conscious mind is like the captain of a ship, giving orders to the “crew” (the subconscious). The captain plots a course, but the crew actually steers the ship. Or you can think of the conscious mind like the director of a movie or a play, giving commands to the actors.

Thoughts associated with powerful emotions are driven deep into your nervous system and are more memorable, and thus more influential, than thoughts to which you attached little or no emotion.

The first step is to forget about all the ideas in your head about what is wrong and why you should be doing better. Become interested in what you can learn, and look at your results as a nonjudgmental observer collecting and analyzing data.

Positive reinforcement should include: ■ Praise ■ Instruction ■ Emotional anchoring

You should minimize: ■ Criticism (instead, use messages such as “Needs work” or ask “What did I learn?”) ■ Negative emotions (replace with encouragement and positive self-talk) ■ Negative imagery (replace with desired images—visualize what you want to see happen)

Researchers have found that negative thinking virtually guarantees a poor performance, and poor performance fosters a low self-image. As we’ve discussed, you should celebrate your victories and give yourself positive reinforcement;

While a positive attitude won’t always guarantee a great performance, a negative attitude always hurts performance.

A positive self-image acts like the gas pedal or accelerator. But when you lack confidence, you are reluctant to step on the gas and may even ride the brake.

KEEP A VICTORY JOURNAL
There’s an imprinting that takes place for every successful action you have ever performed in the past. With that imprinting comes a feeling or emotional frame.

To create a winning mindset, your goal is to relive those feelings as often as possible. When you reactivate and recapture that winning feeling, you also stimulate the winning action patterns that accompanied it.

TALENT IS NOT ENOUGH
In closing, it’s important to know there are many talented people in the world. But talent alone won’t make you a winner or a champion. If you don’t have the self-image of a winner, you will become just another “skilled failure.”

My definition of commitment is simple: doing the thing you said you were going to do long after the excitement and jubilation you initially felt has faded.

The key to attaining that level of commitment is expectancy. Those who expect to win commit—not out of hubris, but because they are deeply and truly dedicated to persevering until they achieve a successful outcome.

Great champions commonly display an air of confidence that separates them from others. The best not only expect to win; they know deep down inside they’re going to win because they have committed to doing what it takes to achieve victory.

Winning isn’t everything—but wanting to win, training to win, and expecting to win is.

Our emotions and the taste of winning can and should create for us the exhilaration and expectation of being a winner.

Those who give up when the going gets tough can usually find a million excuses: “It’s harder than I thought.” “It interferes too much with my social life.” “It really wasn’t what I wanted anyway.”

This is why gyms are filled with new members in January, but by April or May few remain committed.

When you make a real commitment, you know that a successful outcome will only materialize as a result of executing the proper steps. You commit to a process— and you embrace the journey.

Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the summit of Everest, famously said, “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

When you accept everything on your paths as a necessary part of the process, you stop looking at setbacks and mishaps as reasons to quit, and you start looking at those so-called failures as important steps and exciting opportunities.

THE POWER OF EXPECTATION
Think about it. If you were absolutely certain that you would be successful, would you persist? Of course, you would! It’s a matter of your expectancy or a sense of certainty that it really is worth the effort.

Peak performers distinguish themselves from those who merely do well by having a particularly strong sense of expectancy. At the same time, they detach from pressure by focusing on process, which drives awinning performance.

For me, the greatest success came when I finally decided to forget about results and just concentrated on being the best I could be.

Peak performers cultivate the ability to draw on the emotions of previous successes, which activates a positive chain reaction of success drivers such as confidence, self-esteem, and positive expectancy.

But even before you perform a particular task, you can generate the expectation of success in your imagination. Try this exercise: First, put yourself in a deeply relaxed state. Find a quiet place during a time when you will not be disturbed.

Start with some deep breathing for 5 or 10 minutes: in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once relaxed, take the following steps: 1. Mentally go back to a time when you did something extraordinary well. Find a time when you felt successful.

2. Close your eyes and put yourself completely into the memory. How did you feel? Relive the excitement and emotion as if you were experiencing it for the first time. Recall as much detail as you can: sight, sound, taste, smell— everything you experienced.

Focus specifically on your emotions. Let yourself experience them again
3. Take a deep breath. Hold it for five seconds; then exhale slowly, evenly, and fully. This will help you relax and focus deeper. Now relive your memory of success again.

Allow yourself to intensify any emotions and enlarge the experience in your mind. Repeat the process: Take deep breaths, focus, feel the emotions, and intensify the feeling and experience of success.
Do this uninterrupted for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

Over time, you can work up to 30-minute sessions. Focus on images and play “movies” in your head of those positive past experiences and really concentrate on your feelings associated with those experiences.

Bring in as many senses to the image as possible: What did you hear, smell, feel? Use it all!

Soon you will learn how to stop dwelling on past failures and instead learn how to draw power and confidence from your past successes, recalling them on demand.
At the time those accomplishments were huge! Recall those feelings now and use them to empower yourself.

HAVE A SELECTIVE MEMORY
While self-reflection is helpful, dwelling on your problems, past mistakes, and misfortunes only magnifies negative emotions and engrains bad experiences.

As you rehash those painful times, your self-confidence plummets and hopelessness soars. If people treat you badly or you have a really bad experience, you may remember it for the rest of your life. It is one of the key evolutionary functions to keep us alive.

As a result, it’s very common for people to relive negative experiences. This is how negative expectancy is created —but not by elite performers!

Champions know that mentally replaying the same scene over and over increases the chances of reexperiencing it in real life. Winners choose to remember their successes and conveniently “forget” their failures.

The goal is to remember things in ways that will build your confidence and empower you to perform at your very best. It’s not that they don’t analyze what went wrong and work to correct mistakes and build up weaknesses.

They know how to take in feedback, make adjustments, and engage in “perfect practice”.

Unconditional commitment is like unconditional love; you do it with devotion regardless of what comes back to you. Without committing to unconditional persistence, you are already half the distance to quitting.

Those who succeed big at anything all have the same attitude: They keep going until it happens or die trying. Quitting is simply not an option. Super-successful people all share this level of commitment.

It’s remarkable what you can accomplish if you just don’t stop and keep learning. Knowledge and skill can be acquired through study and practice, but nothing great comes to those who quit.

BURN THE SHIPS
The phrase “burning the ships” means there is no turning back to old habits and ways.

Cortés is said to have ordered his men to burn their ships, leaving no option but to press on. The burning of those ships represented much more than a separation from old ways—it enabled them to complete their mission.

SMALL SUCCESS LEADS TO BIG SUCCESS
From small steps, incredible journeys can be accomplished.
It is so important to learn to build on success and leverage small tasks to conquer larger ones.

If we look at the top of a mountain without thinking about the steps to get there, it could seem so daunting, we may not even try. But if we can see ourselves, step-by-step, climbing to the first base camp, we can see ourselves climbing to the second and so on.

Most people don’t fail because they lack potential; they fail because they lose confidence in their ability and they give up.

THE COMMITMENT SCALE
Break down commitment into four stages:
STAGE 1—Participating.
At this level of commitment (if you can even call it a “commitment”), you enjoy yourself. Having a good time is your main goal.

But if your activities or endeavors entail too much work or stop being fun, you’re likely to quit, because you’re only committed to enjoyment without putting in much effort to improve or perfect a skill.

Young children rarely start anywhere except Stage 1. They want to have fun. If they are not enjoying something and it becomes serious work, they don’t want to do it for very long.

STAGE 2—Learning. Everyone starts off at the learning stage. You’re just getting involved in a sport or activity; maybe it’s something you’ve been having fun with, and now you’re ready to be more serious about learning the correct fundamentals. Or maybe it’s something totally new

Starting from the beginning automatically puts you in the learning stage. In this initial stage, mastering the basics is important.

STAGE 3—Competing. At this stage, you’re more deeply involved. You want to be good enough to be a respected competitor. Maybe you’ve even entered some competitions or performed on stage, and you understand that this is a different level of engagement.

You develop a training routine and establish some disciplined guidelines to follow. You’re likely working with a coach and practicing on a regular basis with the intention to improve.

STAGE 4—Winning. At this stage, your goal is not just to be competitive, but to win. You want to be best in class or, at least, the best you can be. You are willing to put everything on the line to be the best at something. This is the greatest level of commitment.

You aren’t just in it for fun or even to be competitive; you’re in it to win it!You’re already working regularly with a good coach, and now you take it to the next level.

You practice “by the clock,” when you’re scheduled to practice—even if you’re tried, stressed, frustrated, or distracted. You don’t just practice when you feel like it. You clear your mind and mind your commitments. You’re all in.

You can start at any of the four stages, including going right to Stage 4 with the intention to win. But most people get interested or involved in something at Stage 1 or 2. Very few make it all the way to Stage 4 with a real commitment to win.

That’s why the world is full of wannabes, but very few real competitors and even fewer champions.

As with many things, congruency is important. Your beliefs, goals, thoughts, and actions must all be aligned—in harmony and calibrated to each other.

If your commitment is less than your expectancy, either your goal needs to be set lower or you need to step up your level of commitment.

As far as I’m concerned, we persist until we succeed. Quitting is not an option!

GOING BEYOND CONVENIENT When you are unconditionally committed, you do what it takes to be outstanding.

With unconditional persistence, you don’t waver when the going gets tough. Instead of letting your commitment weaken, you “re-up” to the challenge and recommit. You go back to your original reason for making the commitment—your “why.”

I used spent resources as a motivator, always looking forward, not behind. I mentally employed the endowed progress effect and always imagined incremental gains in proximity to my goal. Instead of losing my resolve, I intensified my commitment.

If you want to accomplish a big goal, that’s the way you must think, because a big goal usually takes longer to achieve than you originally estimated. The mediocre performer sees a poor start as a reason to give up.

The winner sees it as an opportunity to come back and finish strong. If you don’t see opportunity in adversity and embrace it as part of the process of succeeding, then setbacks will always be your excuse for not reaching your goal.

The key is to stay in touch with the real motivator: your love for the craft, the process, and the journey. That’s the eternal flame.

When you feel like giving up, realize that at that very moment, you are at the same fork in the road that everyone eventually faces. If you quit, you are being just like every other coward who takes the easy way out and chooses to give up.

As Henry Ford said, “There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.” People can do much more than they are currently doing.

They underestimate themselves, so when things take longer than they expected (another underestimation), they quit or set it up so they fail. Then they prove themselves “right.” They tell themselves, “I really didn’t have what it takes,” “It wasn’t meant to be,”…

There is a saying (often credited to Albert Einstein): “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

What’s “meant to be” is what you make happen. If you really want something bad enough and you’re willing to work for it, you can become a top competitor and even become a champion.

The road to success can be long and painful. Don’t let the setbacks get you off track. The law of detachment reminds you that becoming too attached to any outcome—whether a particular goal or even a particular person —can ruin your life.

You become desperate, and you clutch and cling. Detach from the result and remind yourself that the current condition is only temporary, just part of the process.

Thomas Edison was quoted as saying, “Many of life’s failures are people who didn’t realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Greene “Eventually, you will hit upon a particular field, niche, or opportunity that suits you perfectly. You will recognize it when you find it because it will spark that childlike sense of wonder and excitement; it will feel right. Once found, everything will fall into place.”

But don’t mistake Greene’s stirring words for a magic wand. This does not happen automatically. It takes commitment and persistence. It’s all about your expectancy—and you are in the process of becoming a champion. Expect wonderful things.

THE MOMENT OF DECISION The only person you are destined to become is the one you decide to be. —RALPH WALDO EMERSON

Right now, in an instant, you can change everything. You have the authority, a single force. It’s a God-given gift that you, like every other human, has been granted to control the quality of your life. It’s the power of choice.

Although you can’t control people or events, you can choose what you think, what you do, and what things mean to you. These three decisions ultimately shape your destiny and beyond.

As you think back, are there some key decisions you made that, if they had been made differently, would result in you living a totally different life today?

Decision is the ultimate personal power. You have choices: what to believe, what you focus on, how you perceive events, and how you respond. Those choices create your world.

When you decide, you commit to something, at least initially, and commitment is a perceived fear for many people. The word “decide” comes from the Latin decider, which literally means “to cut off” all other possibilities.

That sounds scary to a lot of people! To them, “cutting off” other options sounds like giving something up, instead of growing into something more meaningful. It all depends on two words, “pain” and “pleasure.”

The secret to motivation is the meaning you assign to what is painful and what is pleasurable. We all have that ability; yet most of us fail to make good use of this incredible power.

Two people can have the same experience, and yet one person perceives it as pleasurable and the other person sees it as painful. It’s our associations that make the difference. Everything we do happens as a result of how we perceive pain and pleasure.

a powerful point: When pain-pleasure perceptions shift, we make entirely different decisions, and our experiences, and even our emotions, shift. As you regulate your perception of your experiences, you’ll define your own happiness.

DON’T FIGHT FORCES—USE THEM Because where focus goes, energy flows.

Ask yourself: “What energy from the past am I stubbornly holding onto? What emotions am I tying up, worrying about things that haven’t happened yet? What am I fighting? Where and how could I redirect that energy in a positive and productive manner?”

The more we blame our circumstances, or we live in the past, the more negative and compromised our energy is likely to be.

The minute we change our minds and stop giving power to the past, the past and the pain that goes with it, loses its power over us. The key is not to fight your anxiety or fear and let it paralyze you, but to recognize it as energy, a resource to be utilized.

THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION YOU WILL MAKE Of all the decisions that you make in your life, the most important one is making the decision to decide. This is the point at which you finally pull the trigger and take the step that you’ve been contemplating.

To make that dream a reality, you must go from wanting to change to being the change.

DO OR DO NOT—THERE IS NO TRY
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. —PABLO PICASSO

Start by eliminating the word “try” from your vocabulary. “Try” is a worthless term that accomplishes nothing. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do the thing and you will have the power.”

If you want to create the life of your dreams, then you are going to have to decide to take 100 percent responsibility for your results. Not blame, the ability to respond. That means giving up all your excuses.

“What did I do or not do to create that?” When you don’t like the outcome, change your approach. Do something different, but do something! If you’re going to accomplish great things, the excuses have to stop right now! And the trying must also stop. Do it! Decide and decide now.

ACTION CREATES TRACTION

An African proverb goes like this: Every day in the Serengeti, a lion must run faster than the slowest gazelle to eat, or else it will starve and die. Every day in the Serengeti, a gazelle must run faster than the fastest lion to avoid being eaten, or else it will die.

No matter who you are in the Serengeti, a lion or a gazelle, you better get up running. Delay is a disease—the worst thing you can do when trying to accomplish a goal. Delay is certainly the worst thing for a gazelle in the Serengeti. There is a gap between intention and action.

You feel it when you know what you ought to do, but you are not able to bring yourself to do it. Instead, you procrastinate and delay taking action.

Too often, people convince themselves that they’ll do something when everything is “perfect.” They wait until everything comes together or for the right conditions to materialize.

I certainly do encourage you to learn all you can and prepare—that’s not a delay. But when you walk around thinking, “I’ll start—someday, maybe soon, just not right now,” that’s delay.

Doubt is like a pebble in your shoe. If you leave it there long enough, it eventually breaks the skin and creates a wound. If the wound is unattended, infection sets in and spreads. And if given long enough, the infection will kill you!

Doubts fester and grow with delay. If you wait for the perfect time or when you think you have all the answers, you may never get started.

Dreams, visions, and goals are achieved and accomplished only through thinking creatively and taking action. The wheels of creativity spin with action. And if you’re worried about making mistakes, you need to adjust your expectation.

When you pursue a goal, it’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly. It’s better to take a small step than no step at all. It’s better to make mistakes and learn lessons than to make no mistakes and learn nothing.

It’s not enough to have knowledge, a dream, or passion; it’s what you do with what you know that counts. The best time to take action is now!

REVERSING POLARITY Our minds can be masterful at creating compelling arguments for justifying inaction. But our minds can be just as powerful at motivating us. It’s our perspective that needs to change.

Here’s the secret: Reverse the polarity of your fears, so instead of them crippling you, they inspire you.

Ask yourself, “What will it cost me if I don’t take action? What will I lose out on, miss, or fail to experience in the most important areas of my life?”

By zooming in on the long-term pain created by procrastination and bringing it into the present moment, you can leverage your fears. You do this by asking questions that illuminate the long-term consequences of delay.

When you’re at a decision crossroads, ask yourself, “If I don’t take action, what will it cost me in terms of health, money, relationships, career, self-esteem, joy, happiness, and freedom?”

Short-term pain is a more powerful motivator than short-term pleasure. But the key is that you use it in a way that serves you.

The question to ask is, “What type of pain will I experience in the long term if I don’t take action, and what will it cost me if I continue to procrastinate?”

Most great accomplishments require having the courage to act before the confidence arrives. When you embrace your fears, you defuse them, and in taking action, you dissolve them.

Here is the bottom line: You can dream, you can think positively, you can plan and set goals, but unless you act, nothing will materialize and your fears will still be there.

Your hopes of success and greatness rest on whether or not your willingness to act is greater than your fears and apathy. Destiny favors those who act.

Your goal is to get to the point where you are well rounded and at least “good” in every category.

If you never make important decisions, you won’t build decision-making “muscles.” You’ll end up like the person who never exercises and whose muscles are weak—only in this case, your decision-making muscles atrophy.

When that happens, you’re more prone to make poor decisions, which will make your circumstances even worse. You’ll lose confidence in your ability to make decisions, and your thinking will become smaller as you focus on playing it safe and not making a mistake.

You need to be proactive, starting with small decisions in the areas you are having the most difficulty with. Then, as you build confidence in your decision making, you’ll get more comfortable.

When things don’t work out as planned, you learn the lessons and move on to the next decision—and even bigger decisions—with greater clarity, insight, and information.

A DIET FOR YOUR MIND
Here’s the exercise: Whenever you have a negative thought, you immediately replace it with a positive thought. You won’t just stop thinking negatively or always think positively.

Rather, you learn to think positive thoughts as often as possible, and you learn to respond to negative thoughts with solutions. The key is not holding onto a negative feeling any longer than it takes to recognize and acknowledge it. You notice it, replace it, and let it go!

By taking the seven-day mental diet challenge, you will quickly discover how much of that internal chatter is disempowering. Replacing our negative thoughts means we have to communicate positively with ourselves. This is a very powerful mindfulness technique.

Think of it as “replacement therapy.”

THE QUALITY OF YOUR COMMUNICATION
The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your questions. When you ask empowering questions, you get empowering answers. Ask disempowering questions, you get the opposite.

The words you say have a powerful impact on those around you, and they have an even bigger impact on you, because you are constantly talking to yourself all day, every day. Monitor your thoughts.

If you are like most people, you will notice some key little phrases that you use over and over again. Do your words empower you, or do they program your subconscious for insecurity and failure?

The people closest to you could be the poorest sources of advice. Why? Because they care about you, and they want to protect you from failure and disappointment.

First, seek wisdom, not advice. Advice tells you what to do; wisdom tells you how to figure out what to do. If you rely on advice, you will always need advice. But with wisdom, you can learn how to be the master of your own destiny.

Second, avoid all that weakens you. There’s a very simple litmus test: If it’s not constructive or encouraging, it’s weakening you. It can be something you don’t like hearing, but it should be constructive and solution-based.

Rarely have I met a highly successful person who wasn’t encouraging, but I have met many unsuccessful people who always seem to see the negative side of things, and they can’t wait to share it with the world. Avoid those people!

Third, seek out those who are smarter than you, are more skilled than you, and have more proven success than you (particularly in the area you want to succeed in). Note that those closest to you, your family and friends, may or may not meet these criteria.

And when seeking help, use the 2:1 rule: Listen twice as much as you talk, and if you’re going to talk, ask questions instead of trying to prove how smart you are.

FORM YOUR OWN “BOARD” Large corporations have boards of directors. The role of the board is to help direct the company’s strategy and provide guidance. Board members include a carefully selected mix of professional experts with a range of expertise.

Together, these board members help the company meet its goals.

In the same way, we all have a “board of directors.” Your board members could be your mother and father, your priest or minister or other spiritual leaders, your best friend, or your spouse and immediate family—whomever you choose and trust.

But don’t limit yourself to the people in your immediate circle.

Change happens in an instant. You can decide to be the owner of your world—or a victim of your circumstances. You can flip the switch and activate your dreams, starting today. But first you have to decide to decide.

Remember, your reality isn’t waiting to be discovered, it’s waiting to be created. But to create the life you dream of, you need to stop thinking in terms of fear, anxiety, and nervousness.

Instead, think in terms of excitement and step into the spotlight of whatever it is you want to do. Founder of the National Speakers Association, Cavett Robert used to say, “Don’t try to get rid of the butterflies in your stomach. Just get them to fly in formation.”

PRIORITIZING YOUR PASSION AND GOAL GETTING
When people have passion, nobody has to twist their arm to get them to work or practice.

Go ahead: Flip the switch; there is no better time. Decide right now to commit to being the best version of yourself and never turn back.

“I wish I could do that; I just don’t have enough time”—people tell me this all the time. But what they really mean is it’s just not important enough.

GETTING VERSUS SETTING What shows up in your life is not what you want or hope to have, nor is it about the goals you set. It’s all about what you prioritize and focus on the most.

Priorities are the heart and soul of the goals you ultimately achieve, because you’ll willingly make the sacrifices required to bring them to fruition.

Goal setting might include such objectives as eating a healthier diet, losing weight, going to the gym more often, or saving for retirement. These are general “wishes” of what you’d like to see happen. Goal getting, though, is more involved and specific.

Goal getting means really going after something with a well-thought-out plan and a commitment to stay the course.

The research reveals convincingly that when people are asked just to “do their best,” they don’t. But with detailed, measurable goals and a deadline—performance improves. The more specific the goals, the better the chances of attaining them.

The Three Stages of a Goal When most people make a goal, by default, they set an “outcome goal”—that is, the goal is the result.
The steps to success for every goal can be broken down into three stages: 1. Process 2. Performance 3. Outcome

Process goals are the most important part of goal getting, because if you get the process right, the result takes care of itself. For example, you tell yourself, “In my workout today, for my chest training I need to do 10 reps per set for four sets.” That’s the process.

Your performance goal could be to increase the maximum weight by 10 percent and squeeze out two extra reps. While the outcome goal is to have 4 percent more lean muscle mass, with a body fat reading of 10 percent by December 31.

This is the kind of specificity that improves performance and the probability of success.

WHAT IS YOUR MASTER PRIORITY?
you can’t do it all at once and be great at everything. One big goal must come first. Which is it going to be? Whatever is most important to you is your master priority, but there’s a compromise here. You can’t have multiple master priorities.

There can be only one primary goal, and everything else revolves around it.
Ask yourself this question: “When it really comes down to it, what does everything else take a back seat to?”
That’s your master priority.

Your master priority should be a dream worth trading your life’s time for, and nothing is allowed to hinder your progress toward attaining it.

When you set your goals and prioritize them, one supported by the others, then achieving your primary goal sets off a domino effect. When one goal is achieved, it clears the way for the next.

WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT ALWAYS WINS OVER WHAT YOU WANT THE MOST Prioritization is a process, and it starts with some deep introspection around who you are, who you want to be, and what you really want to accomplish. Most people, though, have no clue about what they really want.

Sure, they know what they’d like to have: a great job, financial security, health, happiness, respect, a good family life . . .

But in the midst of their daydreaming, they don’t really have a clear vision of what is most important to them.

Wishing, hoping, and wanting is one thing; what you actually pursue and how you live your life is another. In between is something called prioritizing.

Dr. Wayne Dyer “You must learn to live your life independent of the good opinion of others.” To live the life you truly desire, you must be true to your passion. You will be able to identify and pursue your dreams, not just by setting goals but by “getting” them.

The things you assign the most importance to and put the most time into are the things that are going to show up in your life the most. What you prioritize is what you get.

If you were to list what is most important to you, and then contrast that list with how you are living your life, would it be congruent?

Consciously or unconsciously, you’ll choose your priorities. If you do so consciously, you’ll be in charge of your life. If you act unconsciously, your priorities will “just happen.” Remember, what’s most important always wins over what you want the most.

THE POWER OF WHY
Once you establish your master priority and define your goals, to achieve each goal you need to consider one very important question: “Why am I doing this?” Without a meaningful “why,” you are likely to lose motivation.

Your what, when, and how need a big why! The why defines your “pay value.” It explains why you are making the sacrifices to attain your goals and what the payoff will be.

This is your mission. You can even create a mission statement, a summation of your personal reasons for wanting to accomplish your goal.

Charles Garfield wrote, “With few exceptions, peak performers are highly motivated by a deep and personal sense of mission, which is distinctly different from highly measurable goals.”

People who wake up each day with a primary purpose, and with a clear what, why, when, and how they are going to be the best they can be, have little in common with those who just wake up and go about their day. It’s the difference between great achievers and everyone else.

What’s your mission, and why are you doing what you are doing?

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP

Take a moment to write down all the people you spoke with and interacted with over the past six months, the people that dominated the majority of your time. List them all. If there are too many to remember, you could use your cell phone and text message log to jog your memory.

Write down everyone’s name. Now, on the other side of the page, write down your goals. Next, draw a line and connect people on the list who have a positive influence or something to do with helping you reach your goals.

If you’re like most people, there won’t be too many connecting lines. Just a lot of wasted time with people, places, and things that do little to advance you in the direction of your dreams.

If you want to be a champion, if you want to do amazing things, you need to immerse yourself in the people, places, and things that are going to support your vision. Minimize the time you spend on distractions. If you can’t find people to inspire you, read books.

THE UNBALANCED CHAMPION
If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.
—MARC ANTHONY

Would an elite athlete take a drug that would guarantee phenomenal success in his or her sport (e.g., winning an Olympic gold medal), but the consequence would be dying five years later? Half of the athletes said yes.

It’s not that these athletes would definitely take such a substance. Rather, it shows the extreme intensity and commitment found among elite competitors. This is a classic case of being “unbalanced.”

Champions in all endeavors, from sports to the business world, are trying to achieve something extraordinary. They’re going for the gold medal (or the equivalent in their area).

This is not the kind of pursuit that generally supports a balanced life—lots of social time and numerous hobbies. It calls for a laser focus and sacrifices.

In an ideal situation, that’s also the time the others in your life are also working on their important goals.

You block off time for what you need to do, and nothing can get in the way; no distractions allowed.

Everyone in your life must know that your time blocks are sacred. During that time, you are only going to be focused on the scheduled event for that block.

Everybody faces the same time limit: There are only 24 hours in a day. What matters is how you apportion them. You don’t find time; you make time.

Time blocking only becomes possible when you recognize that the world won’t collapse if you’re out of pocket for a few hours or even an entire day. Nothing will happen during that time that someone else can’t handle.

THE ART OF WHITEBOARDING
Your whiteboard should nag you, like when you were a kid and your mother used to tell you to “clean your room” or “wake up for school.” The key is to keep your goals in front of you as often as possible and in plain view.

ALWAYS BE STRETCHING
BE UNREALISTIC When you are full of dreams, passion can lead you to pursue what may appear to be unrealistic goals and do things that no one understands, and few people will do. But that is precisely what gives you the opportunity to reach greatness.

Champions are not realistic.
They are audacious dreamers who set big goals. They’re not worried about setting goals too high; they’re afraid of setting them too low. All great performers have high standards.

And almost all of them know the importance of consistently pushing themselves to new levels.
What you think is a big dream now, may turn out to be small in hindsight once you achieve it. If that weren’t the case, we would still be in the Stone Age.

By being willing to set an unrealistic goal, you instantly have an advantage over 99 percent of everyone else, because few are willing to think big and attempt great things.

BEING BETTER COMES BEFORE BEING BEST
You want to dream big and stretch yourself, but you must make your short-term goals attainable.

Along the way, you’ll become the person you need to be: disciplined and focused, capable of becoming super effective during your time blocking. You’ll be hitting your short- and intermediate-term goals, which affirms that you’re on the right track.

10 Steps for Making Your Goal a Reality
1. Make your passion your master priority.
2. Have a big “why.” Your master priority should be something worth trading your life for.

3. Break down your outcome goal into smaller incremental progress steps; focus on each step and then move on to the next.
4. Align your goals. Look for goal overlap and determine if your goals are supportive of each other.

5. Don’t focus on too many goals at one time.
6. Understand the time commitment needed to achieve your goals. Time-block and treat each block as a sacred slot that is not to be disturbed or interrupted.

7. Make your goals specific, measurable, and challenging, but also achievable and time-bound.
8. Use a whiteboard to brainstorm and keep your goals in front of you and make them as big as possible.

9. Don’t be afraid to modify your goals. If you suffer an injury, you may have to lower your goal if it relies on physical performance. If you are achieving goals too easily, you may have to adjust them and make your goals more challenging.

10. Divide your goals into three categories: process (the way you are going to tackle them), performance (the progress you’re making), and outcome (the results you’re achieving).

STAY HUNGRY
Be aware: To succeed at anything worthwhile, you need to take control of your life and avoid self-defeating impulses and distractions. For whatever goal you want to achieve, there will be discomfort along the journey. Self-discipline drives you through this uneasiness

It’s an essential component of mastery, and nothing great was ever accomplished without it.

LET THE POWER OF YOUR DREAM COMPEL YOU
Roger Bannister, who became the first human to break the four-minute mile, recalled the time before he accomplished that feat. In his memoir, he wrote, “I imagined bombs and machine guns raining on me if I didn’t go my fastest.”

Steve Gamlin once said, “I refuse to lower my standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.”

Most people lead lives of quiet desperation, because they wait for some perfect or safe condition to arrive before they take action, a condition that never arrives. The best time to start reaching for your deepest desires is now.

The old adage tells us that practice makes perfect—except it doesn’t. Practice only makes a habit. It takes perfect practice to “make perfect.”

To accelerate your improvement and take your performance to the highest level, you need to practice in a way that builds both your physical and mental capacity, and in a way that strengthens your self-image.

The first and most common way is to practice something over and over until you get it right. It’s like that old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

In the beginning this may help you develop a better skill set, although you’re relying mostly on muscle memory from repetition to overcome poor performance. That’s not perfect practice.

The V session starts with a relatively easy task, moves on to the more difficult parts, then ends with another easy task for a strong finish.

This takes advantage of the serial-position effect, which is a person’s tendency to recall the first and last events more vividly than the ones in the middle.

The amount of time you spend on something affects your subconscious imprinting; the more you repeat something, the more you improve the probability that you will do it again. When you fail over and over again, you become an expert at failing.

When we are pressed to perform, even if we visualize ourselves succeeding, what gives us the confidence to execute is the belief that we have done it before. I

MANEUVERING AROUND PLATEAUS Imagine you needed heart surgery and you must choose between two doctors. The only information you have is that one doctor has performed the procedure hundreds of times successfully and never lost a patient, while the other doctor failed several times.

No question whom you would choose—past successes and failures mean a lot to you!

The goal is to have a process that gives you empowering feedback—not trying to learn lessons by getting it wrong over and over again.

SHORTEN BAD SESSIONS AND EXTEND GOOD ONES When you are having trouble nailing a routine or a particular task, move on and try something else. Later, you can come back to it fresh. More times than not, you perform better the second time around.

If you are still having trouble or if the entire practice session is going poorly that day, cut the session short. This goes against the grain of how most people practice.

High achievers understand the importance of building their self-image, so they avoid putting themselves into a deep rut on those days when they’re off.

On the other hand, when things are going well, top performers let that session run! You should do the same. When you’re in the groove and nailing a difficult task, there’s no reason to stop or move on to something else.

Keep going and drive that success deep into your nervous system. This is the kind of “perfect practice” that builds both skill and confidence.

Lengthen your session. And when the session concludes, always focus on what went well.

Most people who want to succeed have conflicting priorities. They would like to win, but they also want to avoid being embarrassed or finishing last. So they trade off not finishing last for not finishing first.

VISUALIZATION AND REHEARSAL
No man fears to do that which he knows he does well. —DUKE OF WELLINGTON

World-class Soviet athletes were trained for many hours each week. The training regimens were as follows: Group A. 100 percent physical training
Group B. 75 percent physical, 25 percent mental training

Group C. 50 percent physical, 50 percent mental training
Group D. 25 percent physical, 75 percent mental training

When the four groups were compared, Group D showed significantly greater improvement than Group C with Groups B and A following in that order. This demonstrates that mental training is at least as important as physical training while some studies suggest it’s even more important.

Research at Harvard University found that students who visualized in advance performed tasks with nearly 100 percent accuracy, whereas students who didn’t visualize achieved only 55 percent accuracy.

The beautiful thing about visualization is you can mentally imprint your performances perfectly as many times as you want. You can even do things that you’ve never done before. Your performances are limited only by the creativity of your thinking.

Using mental imagery is particularly effective because you literally “think” with your muscles and can trick your subconscious mind into “seeing” events as if they were actually occurring.

As you learn to control imagery in your mind’s eye, your muscles gain greater control and your confidence grows.

There are three types of mental imagery: Internal. As the name implies, internal imagery is from the inside out. This involves rehearsing and visualizing what you actually see through your eyes.

For example, if you were a race car driver, you would see everything around you as if you were looking through your helmet visor, seeing all the things you would see through the windshield as you drive.

External. It’s called external imagery because it’s perceived as being external to you; in other words, everything is perceived from the outside like an observer. You’re watching yourself as if you were filming a movie or you were a spectator in the audience.

Maybe your vantage point is from a distance, as if you were in the stands at a football game, or perhaps it’s much closer, as if a camera were following you around.

Kinesthetic. This third type of mental imagery involves feel. For example, you are practicing downhill skiing in your living room with poles in your hands. Or in competitive shooting, we “air-gun” the moves as we rehearse the shooting stages.

The most effective visualization occurs when you combine all three types of imagery.

GUIDELINES FOR VISUALIZATION AND MENTAL REHEARSAL 1. Practice Fully Mental rehearsal should be practiced just as you would physically execute your routine, performance, or sequence of movements. Make sure you include your pre-performance routine and post-performance celebration.

You can use internal or external imagery or switch back and forth from one to the other—from “outside” as if you were a spectator viewing yourself to “inside” as if you were looking through your eyes as you performed.

When you visualize and rehearse your performance in your head, see the event exactly how you want it to unfold. Feel the excitement of successfully fulfilling your goal.

If your mental images turn negative, stop and restart; then visualize the performance again. Make sure you focus on what you want to see happen and always picture yourself with a successful outcome.

Put yourself into a mindset of experiencing your full capabilities then see yourself surpassing your best performance.Feel the emotion;hear the sounds;smell the smells.Bring all your senses to the performance and put yourself deeply into the experience,as if it were really happen

2. Practice in Real Time
Your mental rehearsal should be visualized at the same rhythm and tempo that you would perform physically.The reason is that you want the neurological pattern established through imagery to mirror the same process and pace you need for actual performance

When a skill or routine is new, you could slow down the imagery to help you learn and absorb it. But only do this until the skill is memorized; then bring it up to actual speed. Practicing too much in slow motion during mental rehearsal can create errors in the actual execution.

3. Always Include Movement
An important requirement of mental rehearsal is that the images must include movement.

In his study of the effects of mental rehearsal on 53 alpine skiers, Swedish sports psychologist Lars-Eric Unestahl found that the most positive results were obtained when the athletes created mental images of action rather than of static postures.

Think of visualization as a “mental workout,” not just “still shots” or frozen images. If you are new to visualization, your tendency may be to “freeze-frame” certain images of posture or execution.

The most effective way to mentally rehearse is to tell your body what to do by thinking yourself through your performance from start to finish.

Positive results came from those who visualized moving mental images. Research has shown that movement creates the proper “neurological tracks” for optimal performance.

4. Contingency Plan
In preparing for whatever can occur during your competition or performance, you can use mental imagery as well. Your mental rehearsal should end successfully, but not always start perfectly.

If you always imagine that you execute everything perfectly, you set yourself up for failure. If you do not envision dealing with the inevitable slip-up or unexpected obstacle, you won’t know how to handle it.

If you have made a mistake in a recent performance, you need to replay that competition in your head, over and over, until you see yourself getting through it successfully.

The more unknowns you can reveal about every detail and dimension you might encounter, the better prepared you will be. Handling anything that might occur and still achieving success is an important part of mental rehearsal.

In your mind’s eye, see and feel yourself execute the task without the error. Then envision the worst scenario and mentally rehearse dealing with it effectively.

But make sure that your rehearsal is realistic and within your reach. Goal setting and imagery go hand in hand in your mental preparation.

5. Start and End with Imagery
Anytime you can sit quietly and shut out distractions, you can rehearse mentally. Make use of such periods throughout your day for mental practice.

6. Prime Your Practice
Visualization and mental rehearsal should be used in preparation for practice sessions as well as competition. If possible, engage in physical practice right after your mental rehearsal.

You’ll likely improve more rapidly when you combine mental practice with actual physical practice in the same session. If you have trouble with a task or movement, stop and rehearse it in your mind, exactly as you want it to occur. This is what I call rehearsing a correction.

7. Practice with Intention Make all your practice sessions purposeful and systematic—not just mindless repetitions. To accomplish that, your practice requires focused attention with the specific goal of improving performance.

Before you start your practice session, ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish today?” Have a goal and a plan for what you want to achieve and stay true to that intention throughout your practice session.

8. Practice Smarter, Not Necessarily Longer
You will accomplish much more in a short amount of time if you have a very focused objective. Science tells us that we have a limited amount of willpower to draw on, so make the most of the time you have.

Set a timer for a reasonable period (15 or 20 minutes) and work only on that one issue in as many ways as you can and in ways that allow you to succeed. Break it down into smaller and more manageable bits; change the rhythm; do whatever you need to do.

Keep in mind that you want to engrain good habits, not perfect poor ones.
Experience success in even a small portion of your routine or so that you can build on that success.

Also, given the choice between the two, you should favor more frequent, shorter sessions than infrequent, long practice sessions.

9. Challenge Yourself To push beyond your current capabilities, imagine it first. See yourself performing at a level above your best performance.

Push yourself outside your physical comfort zone by getting a clear picture of what you want to accomplish and precisely how you are going to do it.

Ask yourself, “What is the scariest or most intimidating thing I’m going to face?” Then visualize it and see yourself performing well under those conditions.

10. Make It a Habit
Mental rehearsal gets better with repetition. Practice your visualization or imagery daily, whenever you can. Your mental rehearsal sessions should be no different from a practice session.

Whenever possible, go through an entire practice session (in real time) in your head as mental rehearsal.

I practice as if I’m playing the game, so when the moment comes in the game, it’s not new to me. —MICHAEL JORDAN

Similarly, your objective is to use simulation to practice skills in realistic conditions, then transfer those skills to competition or other real-life situations. As a result, when you get to that moment, you won’t have to think.

The object of rehearsing is to get as close to the actual performance conditions as possible.

Olympic medalist Steve Backley said, “I used to pretend that I was throwing in the Olympic final, standing next to the greatest javelin throwers of all time. It seemed to give me an edge and increase my concentration and intention . . . ”

Maybe you can’t re-create a competitive arena or a performance stage in your backyard or your living room. But you can create any course or routine in your mind—and you can do that anywhere and anytime.

You can do this with everything: sales calls, presentations on stage, or performances in sports or the arts.

Why we perform worse sometimes:
1. We rarely practice under actual performance conditions. As a result, when the big day arrives and we are expected to perform, we fail because we’ve established a comfort zone that doesn’t match the reality of a high-stakes pressure scenario.

2. We lose both focus and confidence because we don’t have a consistent pre-performance routine that keeps us insulated from environmental distractions.

3. We worry about the outcome and repeating past mistakes for fear of being embarrassed and looking foolish. That leads to anxiety and overarousal. Adrenaline surges, our heart rate soars, and, as a result, our cognitive functions are severely impaired.

4. We fail to recognize and take control of our internal communication, body posture, mental images, and emotions. As a result, we self-sabotage through auto-neurotic thinking and self-defeating behavior.

5. We fail to let go and trust our training. Instead, we overtry, which blocks our instinctive skills developed during practice. Our conscious mind overthinks and gets in the way of our subconscious.

To properly prepare, you must first become aware. Most important, you need to become aware of what I call the “gap”—that is, the difference between where you are in practice and where you are in actual performance.

If you’re like most people, your practice sessions entail far less perceived pressure than when you’re actually performing or competing in an event.

We have a tendency to gravitate to negative thinking when faced with a high-pressure situation. That’s why it’s imperative to take an audit of your mind prior to performing.

Closing the gap between practice and performance is the only way to prepare yourself to perform at the highest level when you’re under the gun. This is much more important than only learning the physical movements or parts.

Your goal is to reach the point that, when you perform, it doesn’t feel any different from what you experienced in practice.

In general, thoughts can be categorized into three groups:
1. Those irrelevant to the task at hand
2. Those focused on the task at hand
3. Those focused on the self

Thoughts focused on one’s self typically cause the greatest number of problems. When thoughts are internally focused, you are consumed and preoccupied by concerns about your own welfare, safety, and ego. Anxiety sets in and you start to worry.

Keeping a log of your thoughts—a mental inventory and audit of what you are thinking and focusing on just before or during your big moment—can help determine what exactly is going on in your head at the most crucial times.

As you look back, you can determine if your thoughts empower you or cripple you. Are you projecting negative scenarios and worrying, or are you seeing a great performance and focusing deeply on the task at hand?

IT’S ALL IN YOUR MIND It’s unlikely you will eliminate anxiety in a high-pressure situation. Self-reports from athletes suggest that most of them experience high levels of anxiety—and sometimes extremely high levels.

Despite their nervousness, many of these athletes perform exceptionally well and consistently close to their potential.

The determining factor is how the athlete perceives the anxiety and how he or she channels the energy being generated.

Anyone can minimize the frequency and intensity experienced by learning physical and mental skills such as relaxation and breathing techniques, warm-ups, pre-routine priming, visualization, mental rehearsal, and positive self-talk.

The next time a negative or fearful thought enters your mind, ask yourself this question: “Is what I’m dreading and the negative picture I’m painting true?” The answer is always no! Because it hasn’t happened yet.

Students who wrote for 10 minutes about their worries performed 15 percent better than the students who sat and did nothing before the exam.

SLEEP IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FOOD
Fatigue makes cowards of us all. —GENERAL PATTON

In the book Tired Cops, Dr. Bryan Vila tells about one study that showed that sleep-deprived people scored as badly as or worse on a reaction time test than those with a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent, a percentage deemed legally drunk in all 50 states.

A person deprived of sleep for 24 hours is the physiological and psychological equivalent of being legally drunk. The effects can be even worse in situations when you are under pressure where you are pumping adrenaline.

One of the fastest ways to hurt your brain is to get less than seven hours of sleep at night.

Fascinating new research has shown that the brain actually cleans or washes itself during sleep. The brain has a specialized fluid system that helps to rid toxins that build up during the day, including beta-amyloid plaques thought to be involved in Alzheimer’s disease.

Without healthy sleep, this waste clearance system can’t operate, thus allowing toxins to build up over time. Lack of sleep is the second major cause of auto accidents after intoxication.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration links nearly 100,000 crashes a year to drowsiness.

Today members of the medical community must adhere to strict regulations that require them to get enough sleep so that they can perform their life-and-death duties.

Based on his research, Dr. Cleto DiGiovanni has cautioned that is impossible “to condition yourself to get by with a low amount of sleep.”

And although getting extra sleep to overcome sleep deprivation may seem like the right thing to do, a recent Harvard Medical School study found that it’s not that easy.

The study highlights the effects of chronic sleep loss on performance and demonstrates that it is nearly impossible to catch up on sleep to improve performance.

According to the study, even when you sleep an extra 10 hours to compensate for sleeping only 6 hours a night for up to two weeks, your reaction times and ability to focus are worse than if you had pulled an all-nighter.

In one study, subjects who got 8 hours of sleep significantly outperformed those who got only 6 hours, and those who got less than 6 hours showed no improvement in performance.

One of the most striking studies was one conducted by NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration to study the effects of short naps on pilots flying long distances through the night.

The pilots were randomly divided into two groups. One group was instructed to take a 40-minute nap mid-flight when their copilots took over for them. A control group of pilots was allowed no nap at all.

The non-napping pilots demonstrated reduced performance on night flights at the end of flights and following consecutive flights.

The napping pilots got an average of 26 minutes of sleep and maintained consistent performance both during the day and night and after consecutive flight legs.

In vigilance tests following a nap, for example, their median reaction time improved by 16 percent. Testing at a similar point in the flight, the researchers found that the non-napping pilots demonstrated a 34 percent deterioration in reaction time.

During the critical final 30 minutes of the flight, the non-napping pilots experienced an average of 22 microsleeps lasting between 3 and 10 seconds. The nappers had none at all.

Once we sleep for more than 30 minutes, we begin to enter deep sleep. Waking from a long nap may help us improve memory and decision making, and also strengthens creativity, but it will most likely leave us feeling groggy and sluggish.

Tips for Improving Sleep Habits:
1. Be cool. When it’s time for your body to rest, there is an automatic drop in your core body temperature to help initiate sleep.

If the temperature in your environment stays too high, it can be a bit of a physiological challenge for your body to get into the ideal state for restful sleep. Studies have found that the ideal room temperature for sleep is around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Keep it dark. Complete darkness is the best condition for getting adequate restful sleep. Invest in blackout shades.

3. Maintain quiet and be consistent. Your bedroom should be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Environmental noise and new sounds can disrupt sleep.

Although much of the research focuses on learning about the detrimental side effects of sound, consistent “sound” can have a positive effect on sleep as well. White noise, for example, can moderate intermittent noise levels and provide a consistent backdrop for more peaceful rest

4. Avoid the screen. The artificial “blue” light emitted by electronic screens triggers your body to produce more daytime hormones (e.g., cortisol) and disrupts your body’s natural preparation for sleep.

If you want to give your body the deep sleep it needs, make it a rule to turn off all screens a full hour before bedtime.

5. Avoid caffeine. Caffeine has a half-life of three to five hours, the time it takes for your body to eliminate half of the drug. The remaining caffeine can stay in your body for a long time.

The effects of caffeine will reduce your total sleep time. Caffeine can delay the timing of your body clock. One study found that consuming caffeine six hours before bedtime reduced total sleep time by one hour. You should avoid caffeine five to six hours before bedtime.

6. Be early to rise. By waking up early you start the process of helping your endocrine system link up with the diurnal patterns of the earth.

Get up when the sun rises, and expose yourself to sunlight during the day. You should also avoid bright light in the evening near bedtime. This will keep your circadian rhythm in check.

7. Disconnect. One night per week, completely disconnect from work, e-mails, blue screens, TV, etc. Be alone, drink warm tea, and simply be one with yourself and your thoughts.

Practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the stage, forget all that and just wail. —CHARLIE PARKER

Pressure is the hallmark of champions and the gateway to opportunity; it summons us to dig deep inside for our personal best.

If you think, analyze, and verbalize excessively before and during a performance, you can suffer from what is commonly known as paralysis by analysis. Overthinking can actually inhibit your ability to execute and perform.

When you compete or perform, the environment almost always throws unexpected circumstances at you—all types of things like sounds, smells, and other distractions that you did not prepare for, because you can’t prepare for everything.

Box breathing is simply inhaling through your nose for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of four, exhaling through your mouth for a count of four, and holding again for a count of four.

Repeat this cycle over and over for at least five minutes, or as long as it takes to bring your heart rate down and calm your nerves. This technique is used extensively by Navy SEALs when under extreme pressure in training and during battle.

It’s important to count in your mind during each phase (inhale—1, 2, 3, 4; hold—1, 2, 3, 4; exhale—1, 2, 3, 4; and hold—1, 2, 3, 4), because by focusing on the count, you are tuning out everything else, including your own rambling conscious mind.

Once you learn to breathe properly, you can use this technique before and during performances, or anytime you feel stress throughout the day.

DICTATE BODY POSTURE
We know that our minds can influence and even change our bodies, but can our bodies change our minds? The answer is yes.

Body language is an important part of how we communicate with the world; more importantly, body language also influences how we think and feel about ourselves. Studies show that body language affects our thoughts and emotions.

For example, research shows that just as being happy makes us smile, smiling makes us feel happy (a phenomenon known as the “facial feedback effect”).

That’s right; you can change your mindset using your body. It turns out that pretending to be powerful does make you feel powerful, just as pretending to be sad makes you feel sad.

Your behavior is a result of the state of mind you are in. When we feel strong and powerful, we will attempt things that we would never even think of trying if we felt weak, tired, and fearful.

Physiology is one of the most powerful tools available for instantly changing one’s state. You cannot be powerful without powerful physiology.

When you alter your physiology, you get an immediate shift in the way you feel, and it works without fail. If you change your physiology—that is, your breathing, your posture, your facial expression, and your tonality

you immediately change your internal representations and the way you think and feel.

Modern research suggests that body posture and certain poses can even change your hormone levels. One study found that holding a power pose for two minutes increased testosterone by 19 percent and decreased cortisol by 25 percent, mirroring the levels measured in powerful people.

Power posing is effective in high-stakes situations such as job interviews, stressful social encounters, public speaking engagements, and sporting events.

Amy Cuddy, author of the book Presence, reports power posing for just two minutes can increase both your confidence and your enthusiasm in these difficult situations.

Your physical body posture is just as important as your presence of mind; they affect each other.

There is a basic rule of thumb when you engage in self-talk and imagery. Keep everything positive. Always keep your thoughts constructive and task related—visualize success.

Body posture, self-talk, visualization, and breathing work hand in hand. One affects and reinforces the other. It’s your job to direct your thoughts, your emotions, and your inner dialogue.

When you have intention, you are living it all day, every day. You don’t just have a goal; you are truly committing to maintaining an awareness of self-actualizing the very best version of yourself.

If you give people a chance to make things right, you might just be giving them the encouragement they need to make it through another day or see the good in someone else.

Try to help them. Haven’t you ever done things that you weren’t proud of? Haven’t you ever had a bad day? It’s likely that you were in pain. This is where empathy comes from: recognizing the pain of others because you’ve been there, too.

Many lessons come in disguise. Not every teacher is necessarily standing at the front of the classroom, demanding your attention. Struggles and things that annoy you are often your best teachers.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Recognizing that humans are parts of the whole, that each person is a part of your humanity—these realizations will make you look at each individual a little differently.

With that feeling of connection, you find love in your heart; you will love yourself even more and feel deserving of success, which is the most important ingredient for succeeding.

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