How to Develop a Champion Mindset

Nobody becomes a champion by accident. We all need mentoring and guidance to help get us there, whether we’re part of a winning sports team or a high-level organization. I also want to talk about why consistency is so essential in learning how to develop a champion mindset, and why their struggles often guide them to where they need to be. 

Those who aren’t very successful are always trying to switch things and change things and try something in the hopes of finding a quick fix for their problem. Whereas the champions, what do they do? They double down on their process and dial in their focus.

The Champion Mindset

The path to great success never goes smoothly, there are often obstacles to surmount and hurdles to get over, but one of the most important things that I learned in watching great players in any sport is how they go about their business.

The reality is, these Hall of Fame level players have a straightforward system; they have a system of habits and daily actions that they repeat over and over again in order to achieve a consistent result. I also noticed that the players that weren’t those elite players, who were still trying to figure things out and struggle through the process were constantly changing their routine, and continually coming up with ‘hacks’ or new ways of doing things that were based on either something that they had read or new concepts that were hitting the field. 

There is no stability to how they go about their business, where the great players are very simple. They were highly consistent, and they weren’t looking for the next best thing because they knew what they had worked for them. The best of the best know what works, and they stick to it through thick and thin, day in and day out, making only micro-adjustments along the way.

The same philosophy can be applied in business — you need to trust the process. Follow the example of elite sportsmen and women in your leadership journey; when the external isn’t going the way you want to double down on the routine, don’t try to reinvent it. 

Whether you’re in the sport of business, or you’re in the sport of sport, you got to know the rules of the game in which you play. So many people try not to fail, whereas great players know that failure is a part of the game. As one of the notable guests on The Athletics of Business podcast Dana Cavalea, former director of strength and conditioning and performance for the New York Yankees, told me; in baseball, they anticipate failure seven times out of ten, so the failure rate is far greater than the success rate. And you’re still great if you succeed three times.

Winning the Mental Game

It can be hard to understand how to win the mental game inside that process of repetition. The critical thing for me is that you don’t put more pressure on yourself — you’re doubling down on the process without trying to speed up that process, don’t raise your level of expectations. The art of emotional control lies within consistency, don’t let yourself get too high, and don’t fall too low, learn how to control your emotions, and stay off that rollercoaster that tempts you towards the quick fixes that only satisfy for a short time. 

Ground yourself out from your emotions overtaking you. It’s so common to get caught up in the moment and get so hyper-focused on our individual emotional state and how things make us feel that we actually just forget to take action. 

When you’re less focused on the emotion, you become even more action-focused. You can kick off that habit by asking yourself if you are stuck in the emotional aspect of the challenge or whether you’re focused on the actions that need to be taken during this time. Often, when we answer honestly, it’s the emotion that takes us over — people are already thinking about what their year-end numbers are going to be or how they’ll feel if people react negatively to them. To be a champion, you need to switch up your mindset, control your emotions through attention management, and reframe your thinking so that you’re firmly focused on the things that you can do consistently to improve your performance. 

For more golden nuggets on how to develop a champion mindset or to develop your leadership skills further, check out the rest of the blog series, or tune in to The Athletics of Business podcast, where I discuss all aspects of leadership with a variety of inspiring leaders from the world of sports and business.


Growing Through (Not Just Going Through) Crisis

Why vulnerability can be a powerful leadership asset