Winning is an attitude. It is a matter of following what you want to do, rather than what others want you to do. A person strives through life to unlock the true potential that they have, yet there is only a handful that actually manages to do so. How do these people become the champions they are?

How Champions Think (2015), by Dr. Bob Rotella and Bob Cullen, brings forth the winning spirit, the guiding philosophy, and the psychology behind champions. Whether it is a CEO or an athlete looking for a guide to success, this is a true push towards achieving the maximum potential on a daily basis.

You Are Your Own Competition

Have you ever felt as though you want to be a champion at whatever you do, yet something holds you back? Why does this happen?

Everyone faces the problem of the ‘average’. Most get sorted into the average group not because they are really average at what they do, but because they have very few expectations from themselves.

Those few, who are in the ‘champion’ category follow a very important pattern. They convert their dreams into process goals, which in turn, help the dreams to become reality. 

The trick is to think of the goal at the end of a ladder every day. Any challenge, possible outcome, or work can be a step towards the top of the ladder. For example, if you want to lose 20 lbs. of weight in 3 months, it is better to break down the goal by week. It is easier to achieve a goal of losing 2-3 lbs. of weight per week rather than look at the total amount, which may seem too much or too far away.

If you get into the habit of setting low goals thinking that you will start low, then the results will be low, too. Aim for the unreachable and you will get to where most people cannot!

The idea is to consider yourself as your toughest, truest competition and beat your ‘yesterday’s score’. Never set a limit to what you think you can achieve!

How Champions Think (2015) by Dr. Bob Rotella and Bob Cullen
How Champions Think (2015) by Dr. Bob Rotella and Bob Cullen

Beat Negativity With Optimism

We are bombarded with news from all over the world. While we can all choose to absorb only the information that we wish to listen to, we cannot possibly avoid the negative information that comes through. Such negativity can affect us even though we try not to let it.

We often let negativity guide us, and even without realizing it, let it bar us from reaching our maximum potential. For example, in 1954, experts deemed that no one could run a mile in four minutes. Sadly, while no one attempted it, one man named Roger Bannister set to prove the statement wrong. He worked hard and persevered, finally breaking the record and set an example for other athletes to follow.

There is no proved co-relation between success and optimism, but there is a correlation between failure and pessimism. Therefore, the only way to beast negativity from affecting us is to be optimistic with a smile and see how the stress reduces!

Building Confidence Every Day!

It is true that winning instills the confidence to succeed repeatedly. However, if that were the only yardstick to success, how would one win in the first place?

Confidence is a choice. Confidence builds when you choose to keep even the smallest accomplishments in perspective. It is important to keep in mind that the journey to the finish line is more important than reaching the finish line. Additionally, repetition builds practice, which will eventually lead to success.

LeBron James, the basketball player, was only a rookie at first. With a 3-point shot success percentage of only 29, he approached the author to help him improve his performance. The author advised him to try 400 different variations of the 3-point shot on a daily basis. It was repetition, practice, and perseverance that made LeBron the star he is today! He also learned that being naturally talented isn’t enough.

According to Vince Lombardi, the American football coach, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

To build confidence and be a champion, being optimistic and leaving out the negativity should become a daily practice. Therefore, while revisiting failures is important to understand the errors that have been made, dwelling on them for too long is detrimental.

The Importance Of Self-Image

Parents, teachers, coaches, motivational gurus, etc. help us find our motivation. However, over time, it is essential that we find the inner strength to motivate ourselves from time-to-time as well.

Whether it is a manager in a multi-national, or an Olympic-level swimmer, the inability to self-motivate is one of the top reasons for underperforming or not reaching their true potential and thus goal in life. Many experience ‘burn-out’, losing the spark completely, in what once was their passion. At such a juncture in life, one has but 2 choices – 

  • Re-ignite the lost spark by remembering what was it that ignited the passion in the first place, or
  • Change one’s passion completely and look towards new ventures.

Whatever the decision, one must remember to enthusiastic with their decision. Enthusiasm and optimism practiced on a daily basis will keep one positive, happy and have a good self-image of oneself.

Bring Down Those Mental Barriers With Virtuous Cycles.

Being a champion in everyday life is mind over matter. If you keep thinking that you are a failure, you will fail. Many who keep hitting misses in life tend to suffer from a problem of acquiring learned helplessness. Such a feeling can deter one from even trying to win. They develop a fear of failure that keeps them from trying to win at all.

It is therefore important that one keeps such mental barriers away. How does one do this?

It is a step-by-step process wherein, firstly, one should identify what triggers certain habits that put up mental barriers. Next, one should transform these ‘bad’ habits into virtuous cycles. One can even take the help of close friends and loved ones to help.

Say, you are trying to avoid eating junk food. But you know that after a long day at work, you want to relax in front of the TV. You end up with a beer and a bag of chips in hand. 

Therefore, it is essential to realize what is triggering the habit that you want to avoid (sitting in front of the TV). Next to turn the habit into a virtuous cycle, one can opt to relax by picking up an activity like learning music, exercising, or even simply playing with the kids. One can seek the help of a roommate or partner to distract them from their trigger. It is important to make an effort to avoid the trigger on a daily basis.

Inculcating a self-retrospective habit (even with the help of others) can go a long way. Succeeding in pulling down mental barriers also helps in instilling confidence.


You have to instill a sense of competition in yourself and keep ‘upping the bar’ to be a champion time and again. Optimism, confidence, and maintaining a positive self-image are interconnected and interrelated. Building these positively depends on breaking mental barriers and adopting a virtuous cycle in life.