One of the biggest questions I get when talking to people about business, or just life in general, is, “What do you think is the biggest reason you’ve succeeded in [insert whatever topic we’re talking about at the time]?”
Whether we’re talking about business, life, athletics, or relationships…my answer is always the same.
I believe that results in anything (well, maybe not the lottery) come directly from the mindset you have as you approach it.
You have success inside of you right now. I don’t care how little you believe in yourself, it’s there. It’s waiting to come out, and sadly, the only reason it hasn’t surfaced yet, is most likely being your mindset is holding you back.
And don’t get me wrong, when I say “mindset” I’m not talking about the fluffy bullshit you’ll hear people talking vaguely about that doesn’t really mean anything.
I’m talking about how much you believe in yourself, and how determined you are to achieve whatever result you’re after.
Why It’s My Dad’s Fault
Let me tell you a story…
One of my most vivid memories as a kid was my nighttime routine. It wasn’t memorable because I brushed my teeth or tucked myself in a certain way. It was memorable because every single night my dad would come in to say goodnight, and he’d tell me a story. He used the same 2 fictional characters every single time, and he used these 2 characters to teach me lessons about success.
He used these stories to encourage me to go after whatever I wanted in life, and to believe in myself, because if these 2 fictional characters could do it, why couldn’t I?
The part that is most vivid for me was what he whispered in my ear almost every single night before I went to sleep. He would say, “Brian, I believe in you. You can do anything you set your mind to.”
I can still hear his voice when I type those words. I don’t know if he realized what he was doing, but every time he spoke those words to me, he engrained in me a mindset that would never accept failure. Ever.
He continued to speak that message to me throughout my childhood, and by the time I became old enough to decide who I wanted to become, my dad’s words were so set in stone in my heart that there was nothing that could stop me.
If I was passionate about something, I was going to be the best. On the baseball field, I worked harder than anyone. I trained every single day and perfected my craft in a way that most other kids would never do. I studied the best athletes in the world to try and figure out what made them great. I sought out the best coaches in the countries so I could learn from the best. And it paid off.
At 5’8″ I became arguably the best baseball player in my home state of Maryland in 2004. I led our high school to one of their only championships. And I was only the second athlete from our high school to get a Division 1 college scholarship.
But college wasn’t as easy. I faced struggle after struggle and almost decided to stop playing all-together, but my dad was there again to list me back up. He helped me decide to transfer to another school that was a better fit for me, and I was able to get back in my zone.
I became the 1st baseball player to be awarded to the Rawlings 1st Team All-America and win the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for being the best defensive outfielder in the nation in 2008. That year I also helped lead our team to the first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.
Why did all of this happen? Because I made it happen. I wasn’t just a “gifted” athlete who succeeded because I was faster, stronger and bigger than everyone else. I was 5 feet 8 inches and 160 pounds soaking wet. I worked my ass off to get everything I could out of the body I was given. I worked my ass off for one simple reason: failure was not an option.
It’s not that I’m scared of failure, I’m not. I know failure means that success is getting closer. But I hate failure. It sucks. I hate losing. But losing gives me the fuel I need to work harder so the next time, I’ll win.
It doesn’t matter if it’s baseball, business, or a game of ping pong. (just ask my brother)
If you don’t believe that you have what it takes to win, or you don’t have that killer instinct in your business and life, success is going to be harder, I promise.
What To Do If You’re Lacking the Killer Instinct
But don’t get too discouraged, because you’re not going to have it in every area. (that would be exhausting) There’s plenty of areas I didn’t have that killer instinct, that desire to win. School was one of them. I got barely above average grades, so I guess I was an ok student, but I didn’t really care if the kid next to me got a higher grade. I had no burning desire to be the best student in my class or school, so nothing was driving me to study day and night.
My point is, if you don’t have that ‘do anything to succeed’ attitude in an area you’re struggling with right now, the best option might be to not kill yourself over trying to get it. Don’t get me wrong…if you’re failing at something important like your health, marriage, or family…do not use the excuse I just gave you. Get over it, and go fix what’s not working.
But if you’re trying to start a blog to drive more traffic to your site and you just can’t get yourself to write a new post every week no matter how many sticky notes you stick to your computer to remind you, chances are you’re not that passionate about writing…and maybe you should try something else to grow your business.
What To Do When Failure Creeps In
Failure creeps into every area of life no matter what we do to prevent it. And sometimes it can be pretty tough to deal with, and even tougher to come back from. Failure gives us doubts. Doubts in our ability to succeed and in our chances of success. And it’s when we start doubting that our ‘do anything it takes to win’ attitude can start to fade.
After all, why would we bust our ass studying, working out, practicing, eating right, working on our marriage, or building our business if we don’t think it will pay off? We wouldn’t. That would be insane.
We only go after what we want when we think we can actually get it. Think about that.
So the question is, how do you eliminate the doubt that eventually creeps in? You program your mind to believe you will succeed.
As creepy as it sounds, my dad programmed me as a little kid. His simple words, “Brian, I believe in you. You can do anything you set your mind to,” were repeated over and over in my head to the point when I truly believed it. And I still believe it today.
I don’t care who you are or how good you are at [insert whatever the hell you want to here]…if you give me enough time, I’ll beat you at it.
It might sound arrogant, but I believe it. I believe if you got so good at something, so can I. I’ll find out what makes you so good and apply it myself.
Have I been wrong, sure I have, but that’s not the point. The point is how few people think that way. So many people tell themselves, “Oh I could never do that because…” and they concede defeat before they ever jump into the ring. They think other people have some unfair advantage that they don’t. They think they can’t achieve success because of some limiting belief that doesn’t exist.
It’s horse shit.
The Power of “Self-Talk”
You have what it takes to win at anything. I don’t care what advantage your competitor has, you can use it against them. You can get your own advantage and turn the tide. You can do anything he/she can do because you can work harder than they can. You can go the extra mile, read the extra book, stay up the extra hour, find the extra mentor, etc.
I bet if you re-read that last paragraph 5 times, you’ll feel just a little different than you did 5 minutes ago.
That’s the power of “self-talk.” And if you don’t think that the words you say to yourself about yourself matter, read this book by Shad Helmstetter. It will change your mind.
My dad gave me this book when I was 16 years old. I was in one of the biggest “hitting slumps” in my life (which just means I wasn’t doing very well on the baseball field) and I was mentally defeated. I thought I was losing my ability to play the game I loved. I thought the competition was overwhelming and I had no chance to succeed no matter what I did.
I read that book and began to reshape the way I thought. I had to reprogram myself from the months of negative words I let run through my head. These words were discouraging and they were keeping me from getting what I wanted so badly. When I began to replace them with thoughts that were encouraging and empowering, everything changed. It was hard at first because I didn’t really believe what I was saying to myself, but slowly, my beliefs changed.
I got back that killer instinct. I got back that fearless attitude that made me so good at what I did. And that season turned into one of the best I ever had as a young player.
There’s an awesome saying in the book that goes something like this:
- Programming creates beliefs
- Beliefs create attitudes
- Attitudes create feelings
- Feelings determine actions
- Actions create results
The ‘programming’ is just the words you allow yourself to hear, either from your own thoughts or from other people. My dad ‘programmed’ me to believe I could succeed at ANYTHING as a child. Then as a teenager, I spent time re-programming myself to believe in those things again…after I negatively programmed myself to believe I couldn’t succeed during that tough 16 year old summer.
That programming created beliefs in my mind, about myself. I believed what my dad said because he said it so often, and I trusted him. If he said it so many times, it must be true.
Those beliefs created positive attitudes toward myself and my abilities. Those attitudes influenced the feelings I had about myself, my abilities, and my future. Those feelings determined the actions I took. They caused me to work harder, practice longer, and do whatever it took to win. And those actions created the results I got as a young athlete.
The same thing applies to any area in life.
If you’re constantly putting positive things into your mind (either externally or internally), it will reflect in your life. That’s the bottom line.
My System for “Self-Talk”
I have my own system for making sure doubt doesn’t creep into my life, and it revolves around a set of notecards I keep close by. Maybe I’ll write a post and outline those cards down the line.
I will tell you that on those cards live the words that make up the man I one day want to be. Not who I am now. They are aspirational words that motivate and inspire me to succeed in every area of my life; personal, professional, mental, physical and spiritual.
Whatever system you use, the single most important part of making sure you succeed in any area of life is making sure that the programming you’re allowing into your mind is under control.
What Do You Think?
Let me know your thoughts about mindset, self-talk, or anything else related to this discussion. If you’re looking for techniques to improve your self-talk or attain the kind of attitude that drives success, comment down below and let me know your thoughts.