The body follows mental pictures
Remember that great Denver Broncos football team that went to Super Bowl XXII to play the Washington Redskins? There was a subtle, but very significant, difference in the two teams’ attitudes and expectations about the game.
Washington quarterback Doug Williams talked about how the Redskins set out to play their game to do what they could and to do the best they could. They knew that Denver had a fabulous team and one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. They decided to just go out and do the best they could and see what happened. Some people would say that they did not have a very positive attitude.
The Denver players, on the other hand, had a very strong motivator. They had been to the Super Bowl the year before – and lost. It was a terrible feeling, especially when they returned home and had to face their fans. They were determined to win. To remind themselves of how much they wanted to win, the Broncos said, over and over, that they didn’t want to go home losers again. They kept reminding themselves – and a worldwide audience – of how unpleasant that had been.
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Have you figured out which team had the more positive attitude?
Here’s a hint: What kind of mental pictures did the Washington players create by talking and thinking about playing the best they could? What kind of mental pictures did the Denver players create by talking and thinking about (not) going home losers again?
One team was thinking about playing their best. The other team was thinking about going home losers. Can you guess who won that game?
It was the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history. Washington won. Denver lost.
The players who thought about doing their best played their best game of the year. The players who thought about going home losers went home losers. Sure, they kept saying they didn’t want to go home losers, but saying that doesn’t create a picture of going home winners. The only mental picture that results from those words is… going home losers. And what the Denver Broncos mentally pictured came to pass.
So often, the difference between winning and losing is a matter of attitude. If the Broncos had simply thought and talked about going home winners, who knows what might have happened?
Tennis star Chris Evert, who was named the “Greatest Woman Athlete of the Last Twenty-five Years” by the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1985, once told late-night television host David Letterman that she doesn’t consider herself a great athlete. She said she considers herself good, but many athletes are better. Then she pointed to her head and said, “I have it here.”
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