Written by Michelle Armstrong, Certified Personal Trainer, Bestselling Author, Soul Coach & Mindset Expert | Photos by John Huet / IOC
Anyone can quit. Many do. But to keep going when others do not, to be able to dig deep and push to the finish line, that is what gives winners an edge beyond talent. And while you may not realize it, you too have the power to develop the mental traits that successful people possess. Here are four common characteristics of winners and how you can create them within yourself.
What is grit? Grit is mental toughness. Grit is a perseverance and resiliency essential to achieving your goals. To be a woman of grit means there’s no throwing in the towel when things get tough, or complaining when you feel uncomfortable. Instead, you dig in your heels no matter what and push beyond what you think you’re capable of. With practice, anyone can develop this trait until it becomes an automatic emotional response at the exact time that you need it.
How to get it: For one month commit to something you dislike doing or find very challenging, such giving up coffee or doing burpees at every workout. Then for 30 days straight do whatever it takes to plough through without quitting or complaining. Once you’ve nailed your first month, pick another goal and repeat.
What you believe is what you’ll become. If you don’t think of yourself as a winner or believe you’re capable of succeeding, you’ll be less likely to achieve your goal. True winners don’t accept toxic messages because they know how self-sabotaging they can be. Instead, they think thoughts that are aligned with the outcomes they want to achieve; thoughts like: I am strong, I am a winner and I am going to nail this! In order to win, you need to upgrade your mindset and eliminate all self-doubt from your thinking.
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How to get it: Take a personal inventory of your repetitive thoughts and beliefs about your abilities and potential. Capture them in a journal or notepad. When complete, review your list and draw a line through anything limiting. Decide to never entertain or accept those ideas again. Then write a new list of positive beliefs—thoughts that affirm your potential—even if you don’t believe them right now. If you get stuck, ask someone in your life who has a consistent track record of success what they believe and then claim it for yourself. Read your list aloud morning and night, several times over, with passion and conviction until it’s no longer necessary because your beliefs have become your new truth.
Focus is a quality all winners possess to stay in the zone and to function at their peak potential. It has been reported that when pro-golfer Tiger Woods was a little boy, his father would intentionally distract him during practice shots to disrupt Tiger’s train of thought. Over time, Tiger developed a strong mental ability to stay calm and focused regardless of his surroundings. His focus could no longer be disrupted. You can achieve this too.
How to get it: Once a day, sit in a noisy, distracting environment. Beside your television set or at a park beside a construction site for example. Close your eyes and visualize a candle flame gently flickering on the screen of your mind. Focus all your attention on the flame. When your mind starts to wander away from the flame, relax your body, take a deep, empowering and cleansing breath and redirect your mental focus back to the flickering flame. Over time, your nervous system will learn to stay relaxed and focused despite what’s attempting to distract you, including your own thoughts. Your focus will improve in no time.
You’ve heard the term before, “She won because she has heart.” But what does having heart really mean and how does one acquire it? Heart is an energy force that stems from the essence of love and occurs when we tap into the truth of what’s most important to us, and the authenticity of what is really motivating us and driving us to take certain action. Heart is not something we can just create. It is naturally present if our motivations are genuine and authentic. To win at anything requires more than superficial motivation, desire and even talent—your goals must match your intrinsic values. When people are motivated by their heart and intrinsic values, they become an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.
How to get it: Whatever your goal, grab a notepad and pen and answer the following questions. You will know you have heart when your values match your goals. If your values do not align, consider doing some self-reflection and meditate on the true cause of your desire to win.
Why is winning important to me?
What are my top five values?
Is my desire to win aligned with these values?
What do I hope to gain by winning?