Set Your Mind for Success

Recently I was making my way through the interior of BC giving presentations at conferences and corporate functions. And there was a message that came through with all the presentations which  only seemed appropriate to include here as well.

And this message had nothing to do nutrition. Or training. Or supplements. Or any of the obvious things that have to do with fitness or performance training. Instead the message had to do with mindset.

And I used a couple of stories to make the point of how to set the proper mindset for training. Because often times we’ll hear of people who get started on a fitness program and don’t see results. Or they make a nutritional change but the pounds aren’t coming off. They make a number of lifestyle changes which should help them achieve their goal yet they don’t realize the success they had hoped for. And sometimes this is due to not having the proper mindset for success.

What we normally ask people is if they believe they can achieve their goal and if they are motivated to do whatever it takes. Because it’s not uncommon to find out people that don’t achieve success didn’t believe in themselves from the get-go. And further they weren’t too excited to do whatever it takes.

You can imagine if someone doesn’t have their mindset oriented properly they may struggle to get to the gym for their early morning workouts. And they may find it difficult to adapt to a new nutritional plan. And getting to sleep on time may be less of a priority.

But once they have the proper mindset great things can happen. And success inevitably follows.

During the presentations I shared a couple of stories related to mindset. The first has to do with believing if someone else can do something so can you. And the second is about setting lofty goals. If you’re a fan of WWII history as I am you’ll appreciate the stories even more. If not, at least there is something to help set your mindset and achieve better results.

Once he showed it was possible many others followed suit.

Once he showed it was possible many others followed suit.

The first story is about Roger Bannister. Bannister was a miler from England and was trying to become the first person to ever run a four minute mile. From the early 1940s before the end of WWII the record for the mile was 4:02. And they claim Louie Zamperini (from Unbroken) ran a 4:08 mile in the sand the day before his plane went down in the Pacific Ocean.

Anyways, from being just a shade over four minutes it took until 1954 until Bannister finally broken the 4 minute mile. Prior to that a number of naysayers had all concluded it just wasn’t humanly possible to achieve such a feat. They did calculations on stride rate, stride length and physiological markers to prove that mathematically it wasn’t possible to run under four minutes.

But once Bannister achieved this standard up to 17 others did the same thing in the next few years. From something that took about 13 years to achieve by one person was then matched by many others soon after.

Training methods hadn’t evolved drastically. They didn’t eat different foods. There wasn’t a new supplement for them. Instead their mindset changed. Instead of a message of ‘this can never be done’ it became one of ‘if Bannister can do it, why not me?’.

With your own training is there someone you know that has achieved a result that you would like? Has a friend dropped a significant amount of weight? Has an athlete moved on to the next level? Has someone addressed a painful joint or injury which you suffer from as well?

Know that if someone else has done it you may be capable as well. Success leaves clues. Learn as much as you can from those that have done what you want to do and then do whatever it takes to get there.

Imagine building one of these in 4 days!

Imagine building one of these in 4 days!

The second story is one I’m ‘borrowing’ from a presenter at last year’s conference. Dr. Stephen Norris told the story of Liberty ships that were used during WWII. During the war England, in particular, was getting bombed non-stop by the Germans. In England supply lines, factories and munitions were all depleted.

Liberty ships were used to send supplies from North America to Europe. But once the Germans learned of this they began to torpedo these supply ships. So the Allied Forces decided there was only one option to overcome the u-boats. And that was to build Liberty ships faster than the Germans could torpedo them.

Now near the start of WWII it would take well over 700 days to build one of these ships. Within a few short years they were able to reduce the time to build substantially. Substantially is not a strong enough word because in 1943 they were able to produce a Liberty ship in 4 days.

Think about that for a moment…

4 days!!!

During one of the presentations one of the female audience members asked if this was due to the fact that the men had gone off to the front lines and left the ship building to the women. I had to laugh and agree with her.

But seriously, for me, the take home message is that we can achieve more than what we think is possible. And that when we have a purpose for our efforts we can usually dig deeper to get it done.

Imagine for the people building the Liberty ships. What would their motivation have been to do whatever it takes? To work long shifts? To not give up? To match the best worker’s intensity?

Probably things like national pride and patriotism. Maybe the threat of nazism. Maybe having a friend or family on the front lines who are depending on the supplies coming on a Liberty ship.

All of these things would definitely bring out the best in a work crew. And allow them to reduce the time to build a ship by 99%.


Going forward ask yourself who are the ‘Roger Bannisters’ in your life? Who has been where you want to go? Learn from them. It wasn’t all easy and usually all we hear is the success at the end. Rather than learn from your mistakes learn from the mistakes of others.

Secondly, what is your ‘Liberty ship’? What could you do in less time? Instead of a year to lose 30 lbs could this be done in 6 months? Less? More importantly, what is the bigger purpose behind your ultimate goal? For some they want to lose weight so they will be around to see their kids graduate, get married and have kids. When you think in terms of bigger purposes such as this it makes all the things necessary a little easier to do.

Chris [fb-like]






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