It's All in Your Head


     Jeff Brown, coauthor of the book The Winner’s Brain, and an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, studied successful people for clues as to why they’re so successful. He discovered that certain behavioral patterns were found in all kinds of successful people AND that the skills were all able to be learned.

You probably often hear people say, “I was born this way or I’ve never been good at a particular thing”. Yet the limitations you think you have are probably all in your head and by changing your thoughts, you can change your world. That’s why an obvious but often overlooked secret to success if that you become what you think about most often. Think like a winner and the odds are you’ll become a winner. It can be that simple.

Consider adding these insights to your mindset to develop a “winners brain” and escape the often self-imposed limitations you create which are probably not even there.

1. Resilience

      You probably heard that practice makes perfect. But it’s PERFECT practice that makes perfect. Learning the RIGHT way to do something and then becoming good at it is the key. Surprisingly you’ll find that your memory of what works based on your experience is much more important than just what you know. It’s your experience (trial and error) that most often allows you to connect the dots and make your efforts result in a successful outcome.

2. Adjustable Focus

     Just locking onto a task isn’t enough to be successful—it’s knowing when to “zoom in” and “zoom out” that’s key. Your ability to maintain forward momentum while accepting and incorporating new data without getting hung up on small details is the “secret sauce”.

Consider a simple distraction like responding to non-critical emails. It’s your ability to lock on to a specific goal and not be distracted from reaching it that often separates the winners from an average person who just reacts to what is presented to them.


3. Control of Your Motivation

     Most people focus on goals to keep them motivated but it’s your HABITS that you need to control to keep yourself motivated. It’s easy to get off track with achieving a goal but far less of an adjustment to simply re-start or modify a habit. Your day-to-day discipline to keep your habits on track is often the greatest factor in you becoming a success.


4. Openness to Feedback

     Successful people aren’t without flaws. They’re just better at understanding and improving themselves. It’s their failures that teach them better ways to do things and improve each day. Here’s where feedback from others is critical for you to get better.

If you want to be successful, you should know what you’re good at and what you’re not good at, while you consciously and continually improve what you’re not good at. Self-awareness coupled with constant learning AND feedback along with periodic adjustments from failures, are what can catapult you to greatness. Never forget that failure is your friend because it can help you get to what works quicker.


Take a moment and look back at the picture of the horse tied to the plastic chair. You probably recognize the irony in this scene -an 800lb. horse tied to a plastic chair weighing only a few pounds.

Perhaps a similar scenario may be playing out somewhere in your life or you job search, with the chair representing a belief that’s keeping you from moving forward.

The tricky thing about beliefs, they can cleverly disguise themselves as truth, when they’re just a story you’re telling yourself to avoid change.

If you find yourself wanting more out of life and ready to change what life is offering you, consider these ideas:

  1. Identify your “plastic chair” as a belief you tell yourself that seems to keep you immobilized.
  2. Identify a new belief you want to take its place. Consciously create a new mindset that represents a new vision of yourself.
  3. Commit to your new belief by listing HABITS that can lead to what you want to change out yourself.
  4. Recognize that (1) the story you create about yourself will give you the motivation to make changes and (2) if you want to create a different image of yourself, you must change your current story. 

To change your story, model someone you respect and admire and ideally someone you would like to be.  Work backwards from what works.  Keep in mind that success leaves clues. Leverage the lessons from the school of hard knocks that others have already figured out for you.   This saves you time, and it helps you find solutions that have been proven to work.

Sometimes a change for the better is realizing that what’s holding you back isn’t stopping you from getting what you want.


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