It’s easy to look at football and assume it’s almost entirely physical. But the emotional and mental aspects of the game are just as important and impactful. Becoming a champion (and succeeding in anything you do, really) is just as much about mindset, mental awareness and preparation as anything else. Just ask world-renowned high-performance coach Dr. Michael Gervais.
Dr. Gervais knows the mindset of a champion. He has worked and taught winning mindset practices to some of the world’s top performers including NFL teams such as the Seattle Seahawks, Olympic champions and Red Bull athletes like Felix Baumgartner.
Dr. Gervais recently sat down with The Science of Success and shared some of the most impactful skills he teaches his clients, helping lead them to become Super Bowl champions and world record holders, and achieving success in every aspect of their life.
1. Create a personal philosophy.
If there is not a clear outline of what we want to achieve and, more importantly, who we must become to accomplish that goal, we’re wasting our time.
“When we talk about training the mind, it becomes almost fruitless to have mental skills if there’s nothing to calibrate who you are and who you’re becoming,” Dr. Gervais says. “Which is where your personal philosophy comes in. The idea is to physically write down your personal guiding philosophy, which you will then use to line up your thoughts, your words and your actions across any environment.”
Dr. Gervais’ clients agree there is a sense of power that comes from a personal philosophy. Just as many legendary icons began by reverse engineering their own paths to success, we must also start with the end in mind to become who we wish to be. Take some time this year to put pen to paper and begin to define your own personal philosophy.
2. Find a rugged and hostile environment.
In order to become your best at anything, you have to train yourself to perform in rugged and hostile environments. According to Dr. Gervais, “The rugged and hostile environment is relative. It does not have to be physically dangerous to be rugged.”
“What this means is, any environment where your heart starts to thump because you know that something is (or will be) on the line,” he says. The key here is to step out of your comfort zone, even when practicing. For athletes, this may be practicing against a rival teammate in a stadium they know will soon be packed. It can even be something as small as striking up a conversation with a stranger at a party.
Whatever you want to succeed at, you have to push yourself past your comfort zone in order to achieve greatness.
3. Train your brain for optimism.
In sports, business and life, it’s important to focus on the positive in every experience. Dr. Gervais points out three steps he teaches his Super Bowl-winning clients.
First, you have to acknowledge that change is possible. “Both optimism and pessimism are learned behaviors,” he says.
Next, become aware of your inner dialogue. Everyone has negative thoughts at times. The worst thing you can do is ignore them. Instead, acknowledge them, examine the causes behind them, learn from them, and move on.
The last key to training your brain for optimism is to simply focus on the good things in life. It’s not enough to try to see the good. Gervais recommends writing down at least three good things at the end of each day. This not only causes your subconscious to focus on the good, but also sends you to bed in a better headspace.
4. Pay attention to recovery.
It’s impossible to grow physically or mentally if you’re constantly exhausted. In order to perform at your highest possible levels, you have to pay attention to recovery each and every day.
Dr. Gervais recommends focusing on the four pillars of recovery: sleep, diet and hydration, movement and exercise, and mental practices such as meditation after a long day. If you’re going to be a top performer in your field, whether in sports or in life, you have to make time for and focus on recovery.
5. Be driven, but avoid attachment.
If you’re going to be a champion, you have to be driven. You have to want to succeed so badly that you are willing to push yourself like you never have before. Despite all your best efforts, there will be times that no matter what you do, you fail. So it’s important to strike the proper balance between being driven to succeed and the outcome.
It’s all right to be upset by failure, especially in the moment. It’s what you do after the failure that defines you. Every failure is a learning experience and can push us forward in ways nothing else can. Keeping a growth mindset not only allows you to learn from your mistakes; it ensures you never repeat them again, making you much more experienced and aware in the process.
A high-performance mentality and lifestyle are critical components to finding success in business, sports and life. Whether you’re trying to become a Super Bowl MVP or building your own company, these tactics will help you get there.