This is Why You Crack Under Pressure | The Covert Closer Blog by Justin Weeder

Have you ever seen a professional athlete crack under pressure?

What about you? Have you ever been in a competition where everything is on the line and you just have to win - and before you even know it, you've lost?

What happened to you? Do you even remember?

If you're anything like me, you'd describe that moment as a blackout. Or a loss of control. What really happened when you went to take the game-winning shot and missed? I've been in a lot of these do-or-die situations and while I can't speak for you, I can speak for myself: I don't know. It happens in sports, it happened at school, it happens on social media, it happens at work, it pervades every aspect of my life.

That should say I didn't know. Because I know now. I have an ego problem. Which translates to a presence problem. Which then translates to a performance problem. What's happening is my ego is trying to protect me from failure. When you start doing something dangerous or hard, your mind steps out, and your ego steps in. And when your ego steps in, you're running on pure emotion - on a habit loop. The habit loop you're running on could be one of three variants:

A.) The winner's mindset

B.) The loser's mindset

C.) The No-effort mindset

Obviously, we all wish we could run on the A habit loop. I'll show you how to get there. It won't be easy, but if you're connecting with this so far, pay attention. First, let's describe the winner's mindset and the loser's mindset.

The winner's mindset is the voice that turns on when you've trained your ego to believe that you will win at all costs. It's the voice that gets creative when shit gets tough. It's the voice that pushes you forward when you're in pain when you want to give up. It's the voice that LOUDLY says "You can do this" when the stakes are high or when everyone else is saying you can't. The winner's mindset will search for all the times you've won in the past and serve those memories up to you so that you can experience the combination of hormones that you did when you won last. And guess what? That helps you win more.

The loser's mindset is the exact opposite. This is the voice that turns on when you've trained your ego to believe that you lose. That you quit. That you're not good enough, fast enough, smart enough, whatever enough. This voice is not trying to keep you down. All your ego is trying to do is protect you in the way that you (or your upbringing) has trained it to. This voice will serve up memories of all the times you failed, and it will predict failure again - because this is how you've trained it. Typically this is what will happen if you are brought up in an abusive household or you have been told these things over and over again in your life by someone in power.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not a psychologist and these are my observations only, they are not based in science WHATSOEVER and are only tested n=1 - so you should not believe me and seek your own answers. This post and these musings are written purely for entertainment and not meant to replace, substitute, or supplement therapy in any way.

If you're lucky enough to have the winner's mindset already - stop reading. You're good. If the loser's mindset is what resonated with you, you have a long road ahead. It's not easy to change that voice, but it is possible. Here's how you can get started:

  1. Take 10 minutes and write down all the accomplishments you can think of in your life

  2. Pick the biggest one of the bunch, and ask yourself "How did I do this?" "Why did this work?" "How much was me and how much was luck?"

  3. As you answer, write down your process for that achievement on a different piece of paper.

  4. Complete this process for each of the achievements you wrote down. The more detail the better.

  5. Every night before you go to bed, pick one of these and read it aloud. Discuss it. Memorize it.

If you do this every day for about 60 days, your ego will begin to change from loser to winner. It helps if you can rack up more accomplishments too. If you run out of things to memorize, get out there and find a way to win at something. Anything. The act doesn't matter, showing your mind that you are in fact a winner does.

Now there are definitely some of you that may not have resonated with the winner's mindset or the loser's mindset, right? That's going to put you into the 'don't-even-try' mindset camp. This is a whole different beast beyond just winning or losing. This mindset is at the heart of all procrastination, perfectionism, and failure. Notice the difference between losing and failure.

This is the first distinction you're going to have to accept at face value. Losing does not equal failure. Failure is defined by quitting. And boy, does my mind love to quit! Think about it: Our egos are built to protect us from harm. As humans, what do we see as incredibly harmful? Failure! Losing! Anything that's not considered winning! So your ego has learned that the most effective way to protect you is to check you out and take over until you quit. Or, just keep you unmotivated, uninspired, and not moving. To protect you. Right.

So now that we've established why this is happening, how do we work on it? What do you do if you realize that you've been living your entire life on the sidelines? It's okay if you need a minute to process that fact. It's true though. Any high stakes situation I've been in for the past 30 years has been a battle to take control of my own emotions and act intentionally. When I realized that I was mentally checking out of anything that was hard... I realized I had cheated myself out of a lot of life:

  1. A 1.9 GPA in High School even though I have an IQ of 130 (unreliable, I'm sure)

  2. One college rejection letter halted all efforts to attend school

  3. Being fired from multiple six-figure potential jobs due to negligence or poor performance

  4. Countless memories with friends that are lost because I checked out due to being triggered by something someone said

  5. Learning in general. I thought learning was hard. It's not, I just have to break through the no trying mindset.

Here's what you can do, at least, this is what I did. I started giving myself permission. Every time I come into a tough situation, I stop before I check out and say "I give you permission to win." or "I give you permission to be present." or "I give you permission to learn." It sounds so simple, but try doing it in the moment when your ego is stepping in like a 300 lbs bouncer at a club and kicking you out of your own decisions. The secret to making your way back into the club is simple. Give yourself permission. When you give yourself permission to perform well, you are telling your ego to back off. Since we are the one who is in control - we are the decider - your ego will listen. You just have to use the right words and intention.

If you keep this up for long enough, and start combining it with the winner's list strategy from above, before you know it, you will morph into your own biggest fan. And when your ego is the guy who's supporting you, who's serving you the memories that you need to remind yourself you're a winner, you will absolutely win more. The odd truth about winning more is that it takes the courage to lose more too. So not only will you win more often, but you will lose more often. Your ego will eventually learn what it feels like to lose well. Losing well means learning from the loss, not beating yourself up over it. It means taking the L like an adult, like the learning experience it is.

And your winner's mindset will keep you going and make sure you're teed up for the next attempt so you don't actually fail. Remember, failure is only when you quit something that could have changed your life just because it was difficult. Don't ever give up on something just because it's difficult. You'll be reinforcing that habit. You'll be making the ego more automatic and more resistant to change. You are strong. You have the courage within you. You have made it this far, your ego does not have to protect you anymore.

Not that you need it, but you have my permission to go out there today and be extraordinary.

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