How to develop the one mindset that distinguishes top performers from everyone else
People often ask me what it is I look for when I look at a young tennis player when I try to determine if he or she has the potential to become a world-class tennis player- is it talent, physical attributes, technique or results that I look for?
The truth is that all those characteristics are important. However, the one skill that separates the best from everyone else in tennis is what I believe distinguishes top performers in every field.
Wanna know what it is?
Having seen hundreds of top potential talents fail to live up to their expectations, while less gifted ones surprise everyone else, I noticed that it is the willingness to struggle that defines real champions. They are willing to work hard, endure setbacks, and continuously give their very best to achieve big unimaginable goals.
Take for example Novak Djokovic who dominated the tennis world for most of the last 5 years: when he was a junior he was never dubbed as the next big star of the game. However, I remember how he would speak about his dream of becoming the world’s best player, and how even the war in ex- Yugoslavia didn’t stop him from pursuing his career. He quickly rose to become the third best player.
But there was one problem:
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were the big names of the game and they were simply better than him. One reason was that Novak was struggling with some health and fitness issues that didn’t allow him to compete with them at the highest level for the entire duration of big matches. But it is exactly those long grueling matches that define the very best.
It was after losing the US Open final in 2010 against Nadal that he realized he would have to change something if he ever wanted to become the number one in the world. I remember the look of Novak after the match in the locker room. He was devastated –he gave it his best fight but it was simply not enough to win his second Slam. He was fed up of finishing second.
At the same time, this defeat was probably a turning point in his career that would make him one of the greatest players in the history of tennis. He was already a hard-working professional. However, now he was willing to embrace the challenge of becoming the fittest guy on the Tour by transforming his entire lifestyle, step up his training regime, work with an expert who transformed his diet and taught him new skills such as mindfulness and meditation. He understood that if he wanted to become the best, every detail of his life would need to be geared up towards that big goal.
It only took him a few months, and the results paid off in a dramatic manner. First he helped Serbia win the Davis Cup title– which is like the unofficial nations World Championships in Tennis– then in 2011 he went on to win three out of four Slams, finishing the year as the best player in the world and receiving the prestigious Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Awards for his exceptional performance. He would continue to dominate the sport of tennis for most of the coming years to follow.
But why is this important for you?
The willingness to struggle is the most important ingredient to following through with your New Year Resolutions, especially if you have promised yourself to become a better husband and dad.
For example, if you are like most parents, you will have experienced unprecedented fights with your wife ever since your baby was born that feel so draining. Often they happen in the middle of the night about who will go to your crying baby, adding fuel to the fire. You have all these new responsibilities and not having slept properly for weeks doesn’t make things easier either.
So you may have told yourself that for the New Year, you will make it your number 1 priority to stop arguing with your wife, support her wherever you can and spend more quality time with your toddler. And 3 weeks into the year all those annoying old habits are popping up again.
The good news is it does not need to be this way. I’ll show you a simple way to reframe that you can use to actually become a better husband and a better dad so that it’s not just another New Year’s Resolution.
All you need to do is follow two steps:
First of all, I suggest reframing how you look at difficulties from a philosophical point of view. Instead of seeing them as the daily hassles that they are, shift your perspective and take a grander view– considering them your opportunities to solve specific problems in your life and grow into the best version of yourself.
For example, developing the patience needed to avoid escalating conflicts with your wife takes discipline and willpower, but eventually, these traits will serve you in all areas of your life.
Like Djokovic, you have a choice how to live your life. You can accept your life as it is, whether this means watching your relationship continue to deteriorate, spending a little time with your child or feeling overwhelmed and exhausted all the time. However, eventually this will make you feel like a victim, powerless and eventually burned out.
Or you can choose to take action and upgrade your life, for example by working on your marriage, spending more time with your little one and taking care of your general well being. Life is full of surprises, and this mindset will help you maneuver any situation you face. At first, this might seem like the more road less traveled, but you will reap the long-lasting benefits of becoming the kind of man who embraces who is able to cope with whatever life throws at him.
Which brings me to the second step:
Now that you have reframed struggles into challenges that actually serve you, we want to attach as many positive emotions to the specific outcome you are trying to achieve as possible. You do this by constantly reminding yourself of the huge benefits you may enjoy once you successfully deal with whatever you are trying to achieve.
Once you have a strong reason for a change something in your our life, everything else becomes so much easier, because you tap into the kind of motivation that allows you to move mountains.
Luckily, for you as a dad, this is fairly easy – after all, what could be more motivating than the well-being of our family.
Take a moment and imagine a life without those draining quarrels with your wife, that make you feel so angry and upset. Instead picture you and your wife enjoying the most lovable and exciting relationship there is.
How much happier would you both feel?
How much more energy would you have for your business, you’re well being and of course for your loved ones
And how would your love between each other influence the life of your kid?
Just picture the lasting impact improving your relationship with your wife could have on your family’s life today and for many years to come. And how even the future of your child and his or her relationship to people could be affected by your loving relationships for years to come.
With a strong WHY that includes all these aspects with strong positive feelings you suddenly find the power and energy to embrace big challenges. And for most dads, nothing beats the motivation of giving our children and partners joy.
I connect strong positive emotions to maintaining the best possible relationship with my family by spending a few minutes every morning visualizing the impact a loving relationship with my wife and son has on all of us. While doing this, I experience all the positive emotions that come from seeing my family flourish, and it is a highlight truly enjoy.
Remember, I am not saying it is easy to face struggles. But reframing them as opportunities you are willing to face and that help you grow and improve your life, you will find the motivation to follow through with your biggest goals, especially if you emotionalize the reasons why they are so important to you.
Here you go – now you have the ONE mindset that will help you follow through with any goals you have and become a serious high performer. This is a great first step.
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