Underdog or Front Runner? - What are the Mindset Qualities that Contribute to Success?

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

I have two questions for you:

Question 1 - Who do you admire from the sports world for their mindset? (not achievement)

Question 2 - What is it you admire and how could you use this in your daily life?

When I asked the Phoenix Facebook Community this is a selection of some of the answers to the first question - who and why?

  • Sophie Hemming – (England Rugby) - Dedication

  • Serena Williams – (Tennis) - Motivation and Resilience

  • Muhammad Ali – (Boxing) - Sacrifice - Resilience

  • Ross Edgley – (Extreme sports) - Determination - Drive

  • Michael Jordan – (NBA Basketball) - Dedication - commitment

  • British Cycling Team - Mental Strength

  • Lebron James (NBA Basketball) Determination - resilience

  • Jack Johnson (Boxing) Determination - work ethic

  • Ellen McArthur, (solo long-distance yachtswoman.) - Grit, determination

  • Lewis Hamilton – (British racing driver) Overcoming failure/resilience

All of the above are incredibly successful in their field. The qualites listed alongside them are all keys to success. Not just in sport but in life.

Not just characteristics for success in sport - ingredients for success in life.

My own story reflects this. My characteristics/qualities/skills that got me through my most challenging times were positivity,determination and resilience.

Transferring these characteristics into a positive area of my life have been a significant contributor to my success.

This isnt unique to me. The three qualities have all been a recurring theme in achieving success. Qualities to survive became the qualities to thrive across all elements of my life.

My life, my sports and my business.

Prefer a vlog to a blog? See me talk this through here

What are your top qualities? What got you through the tough times that when put into something positive could contribute to success?

What else can you take from the word of sport and apply to your personal life?

We don't just admire sports people for their achievements. Often we admire sports people for their 'bounce back' their resilience and how they overcome failure. 'Eddie the Eagle' is a fantastic example of this! We love an underdog. We love a team or an individual who has to overcome challenges and failure to achieve success - whatever that looks like.

When you are the underdog how do you respond?

When you hit a hurdle or challenge what internal resource do you draw upon to get you through?

What else can we learn from the sporting world to help us in our day to day lives?

Be your Own Cheerleader

What conversation do you have in your head when there is nobody there to say the positive words of encouragement to you?

Self-belief - are you relying on others to believe in you or does it start with you?

Doesn't matter how many people cheer your name, if you don’t believe then a key piece is missing.

You can have the best business plan in the world but if you are not passionate about it or believe in the mission and vision then you are missing a fundamental piece of the plan.

How are you Showing up for Yourself when Nobody Else is Around?

‘Off court’ is just as important, ask any athlete it isn't just about 'showtime' every day they have to 'show up' for their sport. Eat, sleep, live, breathe it.

What are you doing daily to help you achieve success?

From a business perspective what are you doing when you are not with a customer or client ?How are you showing up every day to keep your business growing and evolving?

Support Team

In the sports world there is a big support for athletes even at an amateur level. Coaches, training partners, teammates, nutritionist, strength and conditioning coach, fan base, manager.

What extermal resources are you drawing upon to help you achieve success? Who is helping you be the best you can be?

Once you have identified your internal resources, your own skills, knowledge and experience then you can identify where the gaps are that you need to bring in external resources to fill in this gap and help you.

Continual Personal Development (CPD)

What are you doing when nobody is watching? How are you using your time to achieve your goals.

What is the difference that makes the difference?

If you want to be successful and achieve success then you are aspiring to be in a small percentage of the population.(2-5%)

You have to do what others are not doing. You have to show up every day and be consistent and you need to keep showing up and putting the work in. This means stepping out of your comfort zone, surrounding yourself with other people who are successful, people who inspire you and who you aspire to be like.

You have to do what others are not doing to keep you at that higher level. Whether it is to step up or to keep up you need to build the momentum and keep it going.


How do you show up daily for your goals? You cannot just show up a week before, people who are successful don’t just show up on the day, they show up every day.

Are you doing everything that you need to do for success to happen?

Do you have that belief in yourself that the success will happen?

What's your story - How are you writing the chapters of success?

How are you visualising your success?

Are you writing your own story with new chapters and new adventures or are you telling an old story over and over.

Your ability and intelligence is determined by your effort and enthusiasm, you can work to change your level of success. Fail - Learn - Grow

I truly believe that there is no such thing as failure only learning. The more we fail, the more we learn. The more we learn the more we grow.

Failing/Learning is part of the experience and part of our growth journey therefore feedback is not a criticism but a way of learning other ways we can improve and build on our existing excellence.

What would a growth mindset look like for you with your goals?

Are the chapters that you have written so far still useful to you for telling the story or is it time to focus on the chapters ahead and focus on the remaining chapters of your book and how you want the story to end?

Let's look a little futher into some of the words that have come up:


You have to show up consistently and daily. You cannot show up and give 100% on a Monday, 90% on a Tuesday and then jack it all in by Wednesday and nothing else the rest of the week.

Show up every day, even with a small amount, be consistent.


When you hit the first challenge, the first stumbling block, the first time somebody tells you that it isnt going to happen and that you made the wrong decision or the first time something happens that makes you second guess whether success is possible., that is when the resilience kicks in.

The more you get knocked down the more you learn how to tap into the resilience that you have.

If you get knocked down and you choose not to get back up and try again but to leave it and try something different then you don’t learn how to test and strengthen your levels of resilience which is so incredibly important.


What is important to you? How are you motivating yourself?

How many times do you think Ross Edgely questioned what on earth he was doing, as he swam around Great Britain and why he was doing it? How many times do you think he asked himself why, or debated whether or not to give up? He had already achieved more than anyone else had achieved so technically he had achieved a level of success. Where was his motivation coming from to keep going and finish what he started.

Intrinsic, positive motivation, with that forward focus on the goal he was working towards.

What is yours?


You don't achieve success without a certain level of sacrifice. Time, energy, finance. You can’t just rock up and expect things to happen without any effort. You want to improve your health then you have to reduce certain foods that aren’t as healthy and invest some time being more active.

You can’t expect things to change without making changes.

When you make changes you have to sacrifice something. To start doing something you have to take time and energy from somewhere else. You have to balance out how much you want the goal that you are working towards and what you are willing to do to make that happen.

What are you willing to sacrifice to achieve success?

If you aren’t willing to sacrifice anything then the chances are then you are not going to succeed.

You have to do something different if you want something different to happen. That means sacrificing something that you have been doing, or give up time and energy or money from something else to be able to invest it into what you want to achieve.


All three are very similar depending on your interpretation

Where is your drive to keep going? When you see the goal in front of you how determined are you to keep going and keep pushing towards it?

People who are successful are willing and determined, they see the goal in front of them and they are willing to do what needs to be done to get them to their goals.

Determined, stubborn and driven to make those things happen and keep the momentum going?

What is feeding your determination?

Success or Failure?

Internal or External?

Internal drive is key, external drivers are an excellent additional support, but you have to want to achieve and be willing to dig deep when it is needed. Other people cannot do that for you.

Mental Strength

See all of the above!

Work Ethic

What is your level of work ethic. Are you able to consistently show up?

Are you willing to consistently put in the required amount of effort to achieve success?

10% work is only ever going to bring you 10% results.

The 100% may look different to different people but you have to put in the amount that you want out of it. You have to contribute to that 100%.

You can show up consistently with a small amount and things will start to happen.

Small steps, small new habits and behaviours will bring success when they are consistent.

What could you achieve with Coaching Support?

Let's start the conversation

#achievement #motivation #mindset

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