The Most Powerful Mindset on the Planet
1. I compete to raise the level of excellence in my life, to learn and grow, in order to raise it in others.
2. I compete to learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable, to see what’s possible, to transform my heart from pursuing transactions to get more for myself, to seeing what I can share with the world.
3. I’m in pursuit of self-mastery, which is really to master the ego, so that when I compete there’s no comparison, no fear and no self-concern. I compete to bring my true self to the world, the one that is wholehearted, fully engaged, heart, mind and body.
4. I’m grateful for the opportunity to compete, for the competition itself, to fully experience the moment and help my opponent do the same, so we can both become someone we’ve never been before. My goal is to share something beautiful with the opponent and the audience. No matter what the result, I can share the beauty of my struggle and relentless pursuit of excellence.
5. I crave adversity and challenges as a means of seeing the truth of who I am in that moment, and therefore who I can become. I compete to develop my character and continually raise the level of excellence in my life so I can raise it in others (especially my opponent).
The most powerful mindset on the planet is an inner journey, a journey of the heart. In the end, it becomes a spiritual pursuit where the competitor strives after the greatest possible prize: absolute fullness of life.
Note: The last article I wrote (Jan. 7, 2022) was met with some concerns and questions as well as intense criticism. Please see the personal note at the end of this letter to hear more on why I wrote on that topic.
“I understood that it’s the music that keeps me alive… That’s my lifeblood. And to give that up for, like, the TV, the cars, the houses – that’s not the American dream. That’s the booby prize, in the end. Those are the booby prizes. And if you fall for them – if, when you achieve them, you believe that this is the end in and of itself – then you’ve been suckered in. Because those are the consolation prizes, if you’re not careful, for selling yourself out, or letting the best of yourself slip away.” – The Boss (Bruce Springsteen)
Inner Excellence is an in-depth system to train your heart and mind for poise under pressure and an extraordinary life. It’s a mindset of self-mastery and selflessness, pursuing the best possible life, one filled with deep contentment, joy and confidence, independent of circumstances, where your pursuit of fullness of life creates unlimited possibilities.
The Boss is saying (above), in effect, “Don’t get caught up in the results, the material rewards, the external rewards of success.” Those are the booby prizes. In other words, if your greatest goal is external validation, material success and achievements…then you’ve been misled, and worst of all, you’re on track to lose yourself.
Inner Excellence says, let those things be added to you. Seek first what’s most powerful and most valuable. Let the world tell you how you compare, what the score was.
What’s most powerful is to become the type of person who is wholehearted, so you can be fully engaged in the moment, heart, mind and body. What’s most powerful is to realize that your heart is the key to your life. (Your heart is your spirit, the part of you where your hopes and dreams fade or flourish, where your greatest fears and grandest visions reside.) What’s most powerful is to pursue joy, because with joy set before you, anything is possible.
In every Inner Excellence retreat we define joy and happiness, because so often people are confused about which is which, and/or how to get either one.
Happiness is a positive, temporary feeling based on what’s happening. It’s good feelings based on good circumstances.
Joy, on the other hand, is a deep sense of well-being, freedom and gratitude, independent of circumstances. Very different. One, as Matthew McConaughey says, is “result-reliant.” The other is being immersed in what he calls doing what we’re fashioned to do. It’s being fully engaged in the moment for the moment itself, not for what you can get out of it.
McConaughey continues: “The easiest way to dissect success is through gratitude. Give thanks for what we do have… gratitude reciprocates, creating more to be thankful for. It’s really simple and it works.”
When immersion in the process becomes the reward in and of itself, that’s when the magic (and gratitude) happens. That’s when you start to realize there’s so much greater rewards than a number on a scoreboard, a statistic on a screen, a W instead of an L. That’s when you become an artist, where your dream is to share your love with the world, unafraid of what others may think or how you compare.
Alabama football coach Nick Saben (7-time national champion) describes his approach: “The process-oriented approach is much, much better [than focusing on the result], and it is better for competitors because it keeps them focused on the right things, not the results, but what it takes to get the results.”
What it takes to get (extraordinary) results is full engagement, heart, mind and body. It’s something artists do as well as anyone, especially musicians.
“Imagine that the sound is always in your arms… That’s also the way [Carlo Maria] Giulini expressed it: ‘You need to imagine that the sound is between your torso and your hands… you’re sorting of holding the sound…”
– Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Music Director/Conductor, The Met
To get that full engagement, we need life. We need spirit. We need love.
Joy is such a powerful force because it’s the backbone of self-control. And joy comes from love.
“I told them tonight, the difference in the game is going to be love. It’s been my word all year. We’re going to win it because we love each other.” – Dabo Swinney, before winning the 2019 NCAA DI national championship
One way actor Johnny Depp maintains his love for his work is he doesn’t watch his own movies. Depp was interviewed on Letterman to promote an upcoming movie (Public Enemies. 2009):
Letterman: So you’ve not seen the movie?
Depp: No. Not just yet. In a way, once my job is done on the film, it’s really none of my business.
Letterman: So you deliberately don’t look at the finished product?
Depp: Oh yeah, I stay away as far as I possibly can. I try to stay in as profound a state of ignorance as possible.
Letterman: Well you came to the right place… Forgive me, is it a little insecurity?
Depp: I don’t like watching myself. I prefer the experience.
Letterman: Aren’t you a little curious, of getting a glimpse of yourself up there?
Depp: No. not remotely. Honestly.
Depp stays away from the outcome and focuses on the process.
“I see people with talent and all those things, but the one thing they don’t have… is love for doing it for the sake of [it alone], and to do something with what you’re given.” – Rodney Mullen, world’s greatest professional freestyle skateboarder
Mullen continues: “So when you win a contest, that’s good. After that, you are… protecting. There is no second place. There’s only losing. So contests were a big thing. A number by your name, that was important. Once you’re on that treadmill, you’re on it. It militates against progression… It’s interesting how getting what you want can push you into a corner.”(listen to Mullen’s interview here)
Mullen’s words are so powerful, I share them with every client. He has a powerful way of describing the downfall of getting on the (difficult to avoid) treadmill of performing for the outcome, versus the beauty of pursuing the moment, the experience, the growth.
May 2022 be a year of learning and growth for you, filled with amazing experiences and deep, enriching relationships… with yourself, your work, and your Creator.
The previous article, Why You Need to Understand Critical Race Theory, was met with a lot of unsubscribes, some questioning why I wrote it, a few angry readers, and one hate-filled response (as well as a couple one-star Amazon ratings for the book the following week that may or may not be related). Here’s why I wrote it:
My life purpose is to share God’s love, wisdom and courage with athletes and leaders around the world. As I mentioned, we are living in a fear-driven time in American history, more-so than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. I wrote the article because I think it’s so important in today’s conspiracy-driven, fear-filled climate to think deeply about who you are, what’s most important to you, and how you can live your purpose. And I think it’s important to consider if you’ve benefited, like I have, from a system set up for people like me, to the detriment of others.
PS. I’m off to Lopez Island (San Juan islands) this weekend to continue the work on the audiobook. Please pray that I will focus on the process and be grateful for each moment, whatever it brings.
Zen in the Martial Arts. Hyams, Joe. 1979.
Mastery. Leonard, George. 1992.
You are What You Love. Smith, James K. A. 2016.
Thinking Body, Dancing Mind. Huang, Chungliang Al., and Lynch, Jerry. 1994.
Mindset, Dweck, Carol S. 2013.
Renovation of the Heart. Willard, Dallas. 2012.
The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. Keller, Tim. 1994.
The Way of the Heart. Nouwen, Henry. 2003.
Greenlights. McConaughey, Matthew. 2020.
Mind Power into the 21st Century. Kehoe, John. 2007.