5 Mental Skills of Winners

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“90% of baseball is mental. The other half is physical.” - Yogi Berra 

Whether on the baseball diamond, the stage, or on the trading floor, there are certain psychological traits or skills that define winners. In this article, we will discuss five of them, namely: maintaining a positive attitude; setting high, but achievable goals; keeping a high level of motivation; managing emotion and concentration effectively; and being persistent, especially in the face of defeat.

1. Maintaining a positive attitude

Maintaining a positive attitude is key to successful performance, and this includes believing in yourself. Henry Ford stated, "whether you think you can or can't, you're right." Your belief system has everything to do with what kinds of results that you will achieve. Self-efficacy, which is essentially your belief in yourself to accomplish something, has been said by psychologist Albert Bandura to be a key factor in organizing how we approach tasks. Those with a stronger sense of self-efficacy are more committed to their goals and are less likely to give up. Do whatever it takes to develop confidence in yourself and stay positive no matter what if you want to be a winner. This can include using affirmations, working with a coach, or therapist, and reflecting on your successes, among other things.

2. Setting high, but achievable goals

A positive attitude and a strong sense of self-efficacy will lead you to believe that you can accomplish goals that may seem a bit out of reach.

Setting high goals helps confident people stretch out of their comfort zones and do greater things. It's key, however, to set goals that are actually achievable, because pie-in-the-sky goals often go unmet. A series of smaller gradual successes is always preferable to large failures. Setting smart goals is key to reaching them, and enlisting other supportive people to help you stay accountable will also help.

3. Keeping a high level of motivation

Motivation is the driving factor that will help you reach your goals, and leads to determination. There are two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation refers to the desire to reach a goal for one's own sake, regardless of reward. Extrinsic motivation refers to striving for a goal because of some kind of an external reward. High levels of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are key for winning. There are many techniques to help you keep motivated, which include rewarding yourself along the way, knowing your "why," striving for your goals with a buddy or a coach, keeping a vision board or picture of your ideal outcome in sight, and tracking your progress along the way.

4. Managing emotion and concentration effectively

Winners have laser sharp focus and do not let their emotions get the best of them. Self-awareness is key here, as when we are aware of our emotions, they do not wreak havoc on us. A key mental skill is the ability to remain calm under pressure.

There are many techniques to help with this, including the ancient practice of mindfulness meditation.

5. Being persistent

Napoleon Hill in his famous book Think and Grow Rich writes extensively on the importance of persistence, especially in the face of defeat. He discusses the story of the Darbys who went mining for gold and stopped three feet short of the gold, thinking they had failed. "Failure" is an inevitable step toward success. In the words of Rocky Balboa, "It ain't about how hard you hit, it's about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward...That's how winning is done." Winners do not give up, and the skill of persistence is one of the most important ones. Cultivate your persistence by reframing "failures" as temporary defeats, and keep at your goals as long as they are still relevant. When all hope feels lost, victory may just be around the corner.

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