Harvey Mackay

The Miracle of Mindset

Like millions of Americans, I watched the 10-part ESPN documentary “The Last Dance” about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. His mental toughness and mindset really stood out throughout the series.

Jordan was an extremely gifted athlete who worked tirelessly at his craft and was 100% committed to do whatever it took to overcome his competition. Nothing was going to deter him from winning. And he has a handful of championship rings to prove it.

He understood that so much of sport and business is a mental game.

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus was not the longest driver, the best iron player or even the best putter, but he said, “I never missed a putt in my mind.” Golf is 50% mental, and no one mastered the mental part of winning major golf tournaments like Jack.

Baseball’s “philosopher” Yogi Berra famously opined, “Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.”

No matter what your occupation, you need to create a winning mindset. What does this mean? You have to set goals and then prepare to achieve them. I’ve often said, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”

You need dedication to your craft, focus and discipline, plus what I call the three Cs: confidence, commitment and competition. Michael Jordan welcomed competition. He knew competition made you better.

Mindset even extends to body language. You need to show people that you are confident in what you are doing.

Having the right mindset is having the right attitude. Your mindset shapes your attitude, and your attitude reinforces your mindset. A positive attitude enables you to look for or create opportunities. If you take advantage of them, opportunities multiply.

As an eternal optimist, I firmly believe that there is virtually nothing that I can’t do if I set my mind to it, but I am realistic enough to know I am never going to pitch in the World Series. However, I can be a player/manager of a top-notch company. I took a big gamble buying a failing envelope manufacturing company and getting it off the ground, and I’ve never looked back.

While mindset seems to be a current term, it actually originated in the early 1900s; however, it didn’t become a household term until this century. One of the key influencers was American psychologist Carol S. Dweck, a professor at Stanford University who wrote the 2006 landmark book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.”

Dweck believes there are two very distinct types of mindset -- fixed and growth. In a fixed mindset, you believe your abilities are unchangeable.

She explains: “You were born with certain traits and a certain amount of intelligence and that’s that. Many people are trained in this mindset from an early age -- for instance, by a teacher who believes your IQ determines everything. You’re either smart or you’re dumb; you can learn or you can’t. If people get a set amount of intelligence, you want to prove you have a lot, although you secretly worry you were shortchanged.”

Fortunately, I have what Dweck calls a growth mindset, where you believe the abilities you were born with are just a starting point. A growth mindset helps you unleash your potential.

She writes: “You can get smarter and grow with hard work, persistence and the right learning strategies. You have a passion for learning, welcome mistakes as opportunities to learn and seek challenges so you can stretch.”

I’ve also studied negative mindsets, where people are filled with negative thinking. It’s not easy to overcome, because negative thoughts can quickly become habit. It takes a lot of positive thinking to pull people out of this rut.

“Never let your mind talk you out of your dreams, trick you into giving up. Never let your mind become the greatest obstacle to success,” writes Roy T. Bennett, author of “The Light in the Heart.”

He reminds us: “Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”

Mackay’s Moral: Set a course for success with a positive mindset.