I just finished reading Chasing Excellence by CrossFit coach, Ben Bergerson. This book is filled with a goldmine of nuggets that explain the positive mindset behind what it takes to turn your natural talents into success.

Ben has coached many CrossFit Champions including Mat Fraser, the 2016, 2017, and 2018 men’s Champion and Katrín Davíðsdóttir, the 2016 and 2017 women’s champion. He knows what it means to compete at a high level.

One of the key principles that Ben teaches is positivity.

When you walk into his New England gym, you will see posted on the wall:

NEVER WHINE.

NEVER COMPLAIN.

NEVER MAKE EXCUSES.

As Ben explains, world champions take 100% ownership of their excellence by focusing on what’s in their control and ignoring the rest.

This is the essence of positivity.

Understanding Negative Bias

One of the challenges that we all face when developing a positive mindset is our negativity bias. Built into our survival brain is the natural tendency to look at what is not working.

While our negativity bias served us well by keeping us alive when we are foraging for food and learning how to make fire, its actually holding us back from achieving our potential.

Ben has discovered that you can’t perform at you best when you’re negative. You’re slower, you’re less precise, and when you are playing at a high level, you will lose.

As Ben puts it, “A positive mindset is a distinguishable characteristic of elite performers because what the human mind focuses on and talks about is what we see more of.”

What this means is that when you look for negativity, you will find it. The opposite is also true: when you train your brain to look for possibilities, you will discover more of them.

Two Brain Rules At Work

There are two brain rules at work here. Selective attention and confirmation bias. Together they make us what Stanford professor Arnold Zwicky calls “frequency illusion.”

Here’s an easy way to explain this.

Do you remember the last time you bought a new car? I do. It was a Honda Pilot.

After I purchase this vehicle, I suddenly notice that they were everywhere. Was there a sudden surge of Honda Pilot sales? Nope. It was my selective attention at work.

Did the same thing happen to you? I bet it did.

When we purchased our new car, we unconsciously commanded our lizard brain to pay attention to this variable in our environment. As a result, we now notice them everywhere!

This same principle is in play when we focus on what is not working in our lives (negativity) vs what is working (positivity).

The more you focus on what is not going well in your life, the more you are going to see these things in your life. This the power of selective attention.

This is when the second brain rule kicks it, confirmation bias.

Once you’ve primed your unconscious mind to focus on what is not working, you’ll see more negativity and then tell yourself “Yup, my life sucks!”. This confirms your bias that things are not going well and send you into a native death spiral.

How do you pull yourself out of your negative death spiral?

Let’s go back to what’s posted Ben’s wall:

NEVER WHINE.

NEVER COMPLAIN.

NEVER MAKE EXCUSES.

Are you whining, complaining, or making excuses?

You need to stop … NOW!

Stop focusing on what’s outside of your control, and turn your attention on what you can. Learn how by taking the FANTASTIC Challenge by following the link below.

The Mindful Leaders Toolkit

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