How to achieve a ‘winning mindset’

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How do you motivate yourself and your team in the face of adversity?

How do you pick yourselves up having suffered a setback such as losing a client or a pitch? The key is to behave and think like a professional sportsperson. A golfer can do nothing about the last missed putt just as a tennis player can’t change the last forehand into the net. They need to move on mentally from the lost points and focus on winning the next shot.

A positive or ‘winning mindset’ is essential to success. If you think positively you will behave positively. It helps you lead, motivate and inspire others. Sports people have professionally trained coaches to help them with what Timothy Gallwey, a sports psychologist, called the ‘inner game’. They help the sports person visualise and feel success. They train them to relive the positive feelings from winning shots and apply them to future games to ensure success.

In business we may not have the luxury of such coaches but there are ways you can help yourself. If you practice enough you will be able to think positively and access the ‘winning mindset’ you want when you need it most.

Here are 7 quick mental exercises to achieve a ‘winning mindset’:

1. Set clear goals – rate aspects of your private and personal lives out of 10 and where you have low numbers set goals to improve them.
2. Stretch the goals as far as you can – set the bar high so you try harder to succeed.
3. Visualise the goal – what does success look, sound and feel like? Remind yourself of previous achievements and develop ways to trigger those positive feelings to beat self-doubt and adversity. Replace them with the desired mindset to bring success.
4. Have a word with yourself – to get instant confidence tell yourself internally or out loud that you can reach your goal. Muhammed Ali said “I am the greatest” not “I will be the greatest”.
5. Choose your attitude – if your day starts badly decide it is going to be a good day. Your positive attitude will save a lot of stress and wasted energy and I guarantee you will be more successful.
6. Learn to deal with negative people – some call them “mood hoovers” or “energy vampires”! We all know who they are but you must not let them get you down. Devise a way to cope with them. I used to have a colleague who would smile at negative people and when they finished talking would simply say “fabulous” and walk off. It worked!
7. Have self belief – think about things you are good at and focus on them. Talk to people who reinforce these beliefs when in doubt – may be a friend or relative. They will lift your spirits and make you feel good about yourself.

It’s not easy being a leader but staying positive will inspire and motivate others and win business. We can’t change what has just happened but we can change what happens next. As celebrated US General Stanley McChrystal said:

“If you’re a leader the people you’ve counted on will help you up and if you’re a leader the people who counted on you need you on your feet”.

I would go further and say they need you to be positive about what you are going to do next and to do that you need to be able to develop a ‘winning mindset’.


If you or your organisation would like further information on how you can develop a ‘Winning Mindset’ in yourself and your team please contact us.