They might be with your car keys that you’re pretty sure you tossed on the kitchen counter when you got home. Or maybe they’re with the TV remote — if only you could remember where you put it down. They are your affirmations: just do it, think positive, you’ve got this. When you remember them, they’re inspiring and motivating. But they don’t do much good when you forget.
That’s an important clue to mindset according to Brian Grasso, CEO of the Mindset Performance Institute, founder of the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) that certifies trainers to work with young athletes, a former coach to elite athletes in the United States and Canada and a former amateur mixed martial arts fighter.
24 Hour Fitness Vice President of Fitness Jason Stella recently asked Brian to unlock some of the mysteries of mindset.
Jason Stella (JS): There are so many books, articles and videos telling us what top CEOs and elite athletes do and think to succeed. If it were that easy, we’d all be rich, fit and happy — so what’s missing?
Brian Grasso (BG): After years observing elite athletes and documenting their daily regimen and habits, it became clear that replicating their practices and techniques wasn’t enough to guarantee results. There was something else determining their success: mindset.
Qualities like determination and willpower are admirable characteristics of the conscious mind that often get confused with mindset. But mindset is hugely informed by what’s happening in your unconscious mind. The surprising fact is that only 5 percent of our daily activity is governed by conscious thought, and the rest is governed by unconscious patterns and perceptions.
JS: Where does the unconscious aspect of mindset come from if we’re not aware of it?
BG: It’s based on our perceptions of our environment and events. Furthermore, when we interpret what we’ve experienced as absolute truth, that’s a pretty inflexible mode of perception – a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset can undermine your latest effort to start a new routine, and you might not even be aware that you’re thinking, “I’ve never been able to make this work (so I might as well skip the gym).”
JS: The past is not a predictor of the future, but it’s a familiar train of thought. What’s the solution?
BG: The key is to cultivate awareness, and it takes practice. When you become aware of your subconscious voice and it’s negative, it’s counterproductive to try to banish it. It may have served — or still serves — a purpose.
Once you’re aware of the subconscious voice, however, you can begin to understand how to work with it. This is the first step toward a dynamic mindset – one of possibility and capability. If we’re talking about health and fitness, you may not know exactly how you’re going to find time to cook instead of grabbing takeout, but you trust you’ll find a way to do it.
JS: That seems like a more realistic way of approaching anything, from your health to your career. We know from experience that our members are most successful when their goals and strategy are based on what works in their lives, rather than what worked for an athlete, a celebrity — or even a friend.
BG: When you combine a dynamic mindset and a sense of what’s realistic in your own life, you’ve got tremendous potential for a strategy and commitments that you can actually keep, to achieve your goal.
Brian Grasso suggests several techniques that the Mindset Performance Institute’s program teaches professionals to use with clients.
- Listen for that inner voice. What’s it saying or feeling? Take 10 minutes at the end of each day to journal it.
- Listen when you undertake specific activities. What was it saying when you ate lunch? When you wrapped up a meeting? When you took those new shoes out on the trail?
- Practice top-of-mind awareness, or TOMA. Think there’s no inner voice, or you just can’t hear it? Try checking in more frequently throughout the day. After a few days noting that you were fully absorbed with a task at work, or helping the kids with their homework, you’ll begin to sense something else. It might be, “Why am I bothering to write this down, it will never work.” There’s your clue to the voice.