Developing the Mindset of a Champion

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Developing the Mindset of a Champion

In his book, “How Champions Think: In Sports and in Life,” Bob Rotella, Ph.D., breaks down the psychology of exceptional individuals. According to Rotella, there are a few key habits that exceptional individuals perform in order to stay positive, motivated, and – perhaps, ultimately – more successful.

“[T]he ideas people choose to have about themselves largely determine the quality of the lives they lead,” the author writes. “We can choose to believe in ourselves, and thus to strive, to risk, to persevere, and to achieve. Or we can choose to cling to security and mediocrity.”

Upon reading the book, one comes away with a feeling of optimism. According to Rotella’s philosophy, the locus of control for any individual sits squarely in his or her own thoughts, actions.

“Great performers share a way of thinking, a set of attitudes and attributes like optimism confidence, persistence, and strong will. They want to push themselves to see how great they can become. These attributes and attitudes cause champions to work harder and smarter than other people as they prepare for competition.”

Rotella’s formula for success, then, includes the following:

  • Optimism
  • Visualization
  • Confidence
  • Persistence

These attributes are applicable to not only sports but also to life in general. Whether in the workplace or at home, adversity is certain to find us. What separates the winners from the losers in life begins with how we think of ourselves. The latter tends to slide toward mediocrity while the former will find themselves in a state of constant striving . . . striving toward betterment, toward growth, and toward personal strength.

Of course, naysayers might argue that “some people don’t have control over the circumstance of their lives” or on the further end of the spectrum, some people may fail to recognize the failure even exists. According to the author, these individuals might rationalize failures rather than learn from them.

“I don’t believe that people are born either optimistic or pessimistic, the way that they are born either right-handed or left-handed,” Rotella explains. “Optimism is an attitude that people can choose to have.”

Additionally, mental tools like visualization can be very impactful. Rotella defines visualization as “a kind of purposeful, intense imagination.” When we visualize,

Finally, Rotella reminds us that “[w]hile the correlation between optimism and success is imperfect, there is an almost perfect correlation between negative thinking and failure.”

The bottom line: You have the control to take back your mindset from other people. After this first, simple step is taken, you may open yourself up to become the champion of your own life.


Rotella, B. (2015). How champions think: In sports and in life. Simon and Schuster. New York, NY.

Kenny Luck
Kenny Luck
Kenny Luck is an author and educator from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. A graduate of Marywood University in Scranton, PA, Luck holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and graduated with a Master's Degree in Education from the same institution in 2010. He has written for local publications such as The Weekender. His published work includes: Thumbing Through Thoreau (2010), NEPATIZED (2011), and 101 Facts of Love (2014). Luck has worked in public relations and media, and has taught college-level writing courses at several colleges and universities around Northeastern Pennsylvania. In 2010, he was voted "Best Author" by Electric City readers.

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