Last week, we spoke about being obsessed with winning, and how author and elite athletic coach Tim Grover explained that the greatest champions all possess that insatiable drive to achieve victory. The concept reminds me of another fantastic business book about winning, “It Takes What It Takes” by the late, great Trevor Moawad.
Like Grover, Moawad has coached some of sports’ most iconic stars, including Nick Saban and Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks quarterback. In fact, Wilson wrote the foreword to his book, and it contains fantastic leadership insights I’d like to share with you this week, especially as we kick off Black History Month and honor leaders who have changed the world. (In fact, stay tuned all month as we highlight Black leaders and their powerful perspectives.)
A few key takeaways from Wilson’s words:
The mental is just as important as the physical. As Wilson writes, before every game, he’d first work with his coaches and teammates on the offensive plan and next, he’d work with Trevor to refine and revise his mental plan. Wilson says a mental plan “is just as essential to winning as any other part of…preparation.” Do you have a mental plan? When you prepare for a conference call or presentation, do you work on the details and then work on your mindset? One technique I’ve always liked is to visualize yourself succeeding. Imagine what it will feel like to nail the meeting, to delight everyone watching with your insights and well-prepared information.
Mental talent factors into your overall performance. Wilson says physically he had talent but being five foot ten, he was small to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, so he had to prove his mental talent as well. How? He wanted people to know how he approached the game of football and life, how he faced and overcame adversity, and how he was ultimately prepared for any challenge, any unexpected problem that would arise. When people recognize your mental talent—your mental fortitude, agility, positivity, and strength—they’ll respect your leadership even more.
You can strengthen your mental talent through mental conditioning work. While training with Trevor, Wilson put in reps, just like he would if he were on the football field. They went through drills to help increase his focus and talked through certain scenarios to determine how Wilson would respond, react and execute a plan.
What you say affects your mental state. When Trevor met with Wilson during the season, they’d prepare before every game. Here are some questions they’d go over:
- “What am I saying to myself?”
- “What am I saying to my teammates?”
- “What language am I using?”
- “How am I impacting myself?”
- “How am I being my best self every time I step on the field?”
The words you say in your head and the words you share with others have an impact on your mindset. Examine the terms you’re using —are they negative or positive? There’s a big difference between, “I’m so nervous about this upcoming game,” and “I care so much about winning this game, and I’m confident we will be victorious.” You are the author of your story, and the words you speak determine the story you’ll tell.
Success is fundamentally about others. Wilson compares sports to business and to fatherhood. He writes that the goal is to help others, whether it’s helping your players, your family members or your team members find success. Your job as a leader is to put them in the best position possible to win. Wilson says, “At the end of the day, the things we say, the body language we give off, and the people we’re surrounded by affect our internal and external growth and possibilities.”
Positivity works most of the time, negativity works all of the time. While a positive mindset is not all you need to succeed and help others find success, negative thinking always works because it always works against you. So, what’s the message? Russell Wilson says it best: “The mind is a critical piece of all of our greatest moments.” Your mind is your first defense against challenges and your greatest.