Friday, January 1, 1999

Winning the Mind Game

by Dr. Timothy J. Maggs, © 1999

The only real security a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability. - Henry Ford

The man who knows the combination to a lock has a far greater chance of entering a locked door than the man who doesn't know the combination. Equally as valuable as knowledge is wisdom and mental toughness. Most of us are not born with these two qualities. They must be learned and earned. And you can rest assured, the price isn't cheap.

We all know the formula for developing physical strength---hard work. Regardless of the many reasons why you can't train, you know that the only way to get strong is to train. Sickness, fatigue, obstacles, mood swings, equipment breakdowns. There are so many excuses why you shouldn't exercise, it's amazing any of us do. But, the one clear and obvious reality is that people exercise all around the world. Day in and day out. Take Bill Cuculic from Tucson, Arizona. As of January 1, 1999, Bill has run 5,540 consecutive days without missing a one. A total of 43,102 miles, or a daily average of 7.78 miles per day. Bill must not know the many excuses which could easily buy him some time off.

The mind game has to be played with the tenacity of a Bill Cuculic. There is no room for weakening. There are no obstacles, regardless of what the apparent obstacles look like. We must win. We must prevail and not give in to the opponent. No matter how weak we feel or how tough the going gets, "right, left" must continue. As Uncle Bill always quipped, "It's a great life if you don't weaken".

What is winning? Who is our opponent? And what trophy do we ultimately win?

Mental Victory

The prize for winning the mental game of life is simply happiness. Being at peace with yourself. Being where you want to be in life. Being with the person you want to be with. Being happy. Reaching your dreams. Believing your dreams still exist.

For too many, however, dreams are merely bad memories of the good times when you thought life was good. Life has become nothing but a day in and day out struggle with no hope in sight. Winning the mind game isn't even a possibility. The game is over as far as they're concerned. Once you've quit the game, winning becomes futile. But, if you can just stay in the game, give it just one more shot, one more step in the right direction, pretending like you knew all along you could do it, you might be amazed at the outcome.

After all, everything in life is mental. If you think you look good, you look good. If you thing you're wealthy, you're wealthy. If you think it's a beautiful day out, you're right. So why can't more and more people realize it all begins in the mind. Why are so many willing to physically train their little hearts out, but mentally, there's an epidemic out there of weakness and breakdown? Why?

Mental Strength Traits
  • Focus-the ability to see clearly regardless of the pain.
  • Discipline-the ability to stay the course regardless of the obstacles.
  • Preparation-the only way to succeed.
  • Perception-seeing life in a way that will keep you motivated towards your goal.
  • Persistence-the ability to get it right. It may take 100 times, but....
  • Mind Control-to not succumb to distractions, obstacles or problems.
  • Momentum-momentum breeds momentum. When down, take action!
  • Success Belief-having a stronger belief in your success than the cumulative effect of the negative forces in your path.

Mental Exercises

"It wasn't my successes that helped me grow, but the obstacles I overcame". - John Kluge, Billionaire

Action/Reaction Theory

The key to success in life is to ACT, not REACT. We spend most of our days reacting to what happens around us. Create a plan and let the world react to you. Don't go off course too easily.

Next Bite Theory

The only bite you can truly enjoy is the one that's in your mouth, yet we spend our time looking at the plate determining what our next bite will be. Learn to enjoy "this bite" in every aspect of your life. This requires continual practice to become good at it.

Comfort Theory

Most people continually seek comfort. Comfort creates weakness while difficulties create strength. Seek difficulties and recognize comfort. Learn to live out of your comfort zone.

Commitment Theory

As Zig Ziglar says, "It isn't what you get by reaching your goal, it's what you become by reaching your goal". Many people break before they reach their ultimate goals because of weakness. Commit! Your life will only get better and when you reach your goal, you'll love the person you've become.

The Cycle Theory

The normal flow of life is to have ups and downs. Rejoice the ups and stay there as long as you can, but recognize the lows are normal. Don't treat them like a disease, as that behavior keeps you down.

The Shelf Theory

Picture each and every problem you have in a separate box on a shelf. People can only handle one problem at a time, so grab one box at a time when you're going to problem solve, focus completely on that particular problem and put it back when you are done. This will create efficient and uninterrupted problem solving. When your problems are organized in boxes on the shelf, your mind is free to enjoy life.

The bottom line----be happy!

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