Winning Psychology

Many books never age for me. Huck is still Huck; Holden is still Holden; Think And Grow Rich and The Magic of Thinking Big still resonate. I read and re-read these books. The books are the same, but I have changed. This remains a curious method for measuring growth.

Recently I re-read Dr. Denis Waitley’s The Psychology of Winning. Published in 1979, plenty might consider it ancient. But its wheels are still true.

Here are the takeaways that I find most valuable:

Make a List of “I Am’s.”

Create two columns. Place your assets or “I am good at” in one column. Place your liabilities or “I need improvement in” in the other column. Pick your ten best traits and your ten traits needing the most improvement. Take the first three liabilities and schedule an activity or find a winner who will help you improve in each of the three areas.

Accepting Compliments

One good indicator of an individual’s opinion of himself is the way he can accept a compliment. It is incredible how low-achievers belittle and demean themselves when others try to pay them value:

“I’d like to congratulate you on a job well done.”

“Oh, it was nothing . . . I was just lucky I guess.”

“Wow, that was a great shot you made!”

“Yeah, I had my eyes closed.”

“That’s a good looking suit. Is it new?”

 “No, I’ve been thinking of giving it to Goodwill.”

The Loser believes that the quality of humility should be pushed over the cliff into humorous humiliation. And the devastating fact is that the robot self-image is always listening and accepts these negative barbs as facts to store as reality.

The Winners in life accept compliments by simply saying “thank you.” Bob Hope says “thank you”; Frank Boorman says “thank you”; Steve Cauthen, after winning the Triple Crown, doesn’t say “gee, I almost fell off my horse”; he says “thank you.” Neil Armstrong, Jack Nicklaus, Cheryl Tiegs, Nancy Loopez, Chris Evert all say “thank you.” Self-esteem is the quality of simply saying “thank you,” and accepting value that is paid to you by others.

Wants and Desires

Make a list of five of your most important current wants or desires, and right next to each . . . put down what the benefit or payoff is to you when you achieve it. Look at this list before you go to bed each night and upon awakening each morning.


Indeed, Dr. Waitley’s Psychology of Winning has reminded me of the things I’ve lost focus on. And today, when the competition for your attention is likely greater than it has ever been before (the incessant alerts, updates, notifications via smartphones, computers, social media, etc.), one of his admonitions hits home: “Concentrate all your energy and intensity, without distraction, on the successful completion of your current project. Finish what you start.”

Finding Peace

Some parents find peace at the end of their child’s recital, or performance, or perhaps, on a lazy Sunday morning when the kids and the dog all slumber on the bed together with Mom and Dad—quiet, relaxed, happy.

Students may find peace—albeit brief—after composing an essay or completing a final exam.

Athletes have regular opportunities to find peace. Peace, like many things, is fleeting. But there is a moment—and every athlete knows this moment—when you’ve turned in a good session, one where you pushed through the uncertainty and the discomfort, the doubt and the discord, and you’ve reached your goal. There’s that moment, when you’re sitting in your truck after a hard swim session, when you’re standing in your driveway after a tough run, or when you’re slumped over the top tube of your bike after a positively brutal ride.

That moment—when you stop moving—and when your brain is no longer urging your body forward—that is a peaceful moment. Everything, in that moment, is right. There are no bills to pay, no errands to run, no complaints to address.

Exercise

Daily exercise might require 20-60 minutes, and it might involve a few minutes of preparation. However, the science suggests that exercising will give you more energy, reduce stress, help you sleep better, and help you feel better about yourself.

Meditation

Meditating is a practice you can engage in daily for 10-20 minutes. If you don’t know how to meditate, you have plenty of options. You might begin with Headspace, an app that provides guided meditation.

Gratitude

If exercise and meditation are too much of a time commitment, then simply spend 5 minutes each day writing down all that you are grateful for. Like exercise and meditation, practicing daily gratitude should help quiet the mind.

I meet people who seem to believe they’ll find peace once they travel. Or they’ll find it when they retire. Or when their kids go off to college. Or when they get that promotion. Or when they get a new car or a bigger house.

Don’t wait to find peace. Create daily opportunities to swim in it. To bathe in it. To enjoy it, however brief it may be.