14 years ago I read the book With Winning in Mind by Lanny Basham. I also had the opportunity to listen to him speak at a convention in California. Who is he, what makes his story different and why am I writing about it all these years later? Lanny Basham is an Olympic Gold Medalist in International Rifle Shooting. He won a Silver Medal at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972 and returned to the Olympics in Montreal fours years later to claim a Gold Medal. His story is not one of luck or natural talent or gifted opportunities. He learned about mental toughness, resilience, motivation and other “mental controls” he calls Mental Management.

I have read numerous books by and about top athletes. One thing these athletes all had in common (at least while they were #1 in their sport) was the belief that they could and would win. They knew that they’d prepared as best as they could in the gym, on the court and on the field. They also had winning in their minds. When it was time to start the game, they were relaxed and supremely confident. You could see it on their faces and in their mannerisms. Spectators could mistake their confidence for cockiness or arrogance. Sometimes that was true, but more often than not, the athlete was simply “match ready”.

Hopefully, you have had the experience of being “in the zone”. Everything was fluid, things were happening almost in slow motion, you could do no wrong. We also have had the experience of being totally “out of sink”. You felt sluggish, things were happening faster than you could react to them, you had difficult focusing. So what was the difference? Especially when the games were a day or a week apart? Was it a physical change? Most likely it was the six inches between your ears. When you’re winning, you just had your “head on right”.

There is no question that the mind and body are closely connected. Too often, when it comes to health and fitness, people spend all of their time exercising and not enough time developing a strong mindset. This is not to say that people cannot learn certain skills while they are lifting, running, swimming, cooking, etc. It’s just that it still takes a decision to go to the gym, to prepare a healthy meal and to get to bed on time. Picturing yourself crossing the finish line, being presented with a trophy or wearing an outfit that makes you smile requires concentration, focus and practice. “Winning” goes beyond the picture in your head and into the realm of emotions. How will it feel when you step on the scale and see that you’ve hit your weight loss goal? The feeling helps drive us. When we believe that we can achieve our goal(s) we feel unstoppable.

It’s worth having a copy of With Winning in Mind so you can refer back to it and also share with a friend.