Mindset – it all starts with “why”

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Mindset and mental toughness / resilience is a pretty trendy concept in the fitness (and, I guess, business and self help) worlds and it’s something I get asked about a lot. I’ve even been lucky enough to run several workshops and seminars about the type of mindset needed to be successful as an athlete. The thing is, “mindset” is a pretty difficult thing to quantify. What is the “mindset” for success?

There are innumerable books, talks, podcasts, documentaries and the like dedicated to it, but for me mindset is driven by one simple word.


When an athlete comes to me for help achieving a goal the first thing I ask them before working with them is why they want to achieve it. We will spend an entire session and sometimes more solidifying that “why” as ultimately, if it isn’t strong enough, as soon as the training gets tough or they get frustrated at not progressing fast enough it becomes too easy to give up or find an excuse to quit. A solid why provides internal motivation and ultimately this is the only type of motivation that guarantees results. You can have all the self help gurus tell you “you can” and all the people in the world encourage you, however if you don’t have something that truly lights a fire inside YOU and forces you to continue to push you during the tough times then it’s too easy to find an excuse not to. When it comes to training this why can be anything, I had a woman I was coaching who was terrified of trying to walk on her hands. We spent months doing every drill possible with no progress at all. One day the woman brought her daughter in during the session as it was school holidays. As always we started the session with handstand drills, however this time, out of nowhere, she kicked up and proceeded to walk 2 meters, controlled on her hands. She repeated this four or five more times and at the end of the session I asked her what was different? She said that she always tells her daughter that she can do anything if she puts her mind to it and having her there she thought that if she didn’t walk on her hands it would somehow disprove this. So she got it done. Whether you agree with that mentality (that not walking on her hands would have disproved that you “can do anything if you put your mind to it”) or not, what’s undeniable is the power of what a solid why did in motivating her to achieve her goal.

As soon as you decide you want something, spend time figuring out your why, don’t rush it, come up with a concrete reason and return to that every time your motivation wanes. Write it down and look at it every day.

It all starts with why.


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