Augie Garrido is a baseball legend. His 1,975 wins makes him the winningest coach in Division 1 college baseball history.
During his unparalleled career, Garrido’s teams earned 15 trips to the College World Series. He won five National Championships and he’s one of only two baseball coaches to win national titles at two different schools.
Before all the championships, however, Garrido’s legendary career began with a rough start.
In his first season as head coach at Cal Poly, Garrido’s team went 15-33 and it was clear his players were not buying into his message. For a moment, Garrido even considered changing careers—questioning whether he had what it took to be a successful coach.
But the rough start led to a breakthrough for Augie Garrido. He knew he had to change the way he was coaching. An influential book taught him the power of fearless thinking…
After reading Psycho-Cybernetics, I began teaching our players that what they fear, they create.
If they fear being hit by a pitched ball, they will be hit. If they fear striking out, they will strike out. If they fear being picked off, sure as hell, they’ll get picked off.
I told them that the demon is fear. The warrior is confidence. Those two emotions battle it out inside you.
If you have confidence, you will perform at the level you aspire to. If you have fear, you will never achieve that level.
The problem is that confidence is often fleeting while fear hangs on. Confidence has to fight like mad to win the battle against fear. It is faster but not as strong.
Our players took the message to heart. The next year, we went 39-11.
Old fears will arise. New fears will creep in. But they are feelings, not facts. You can refuse to give them power.
When they try to steal back into your thoughts, take a walk, ride a bike, go to a movie, call a friend. Do whatever it takes to release them.
Whatever you dread may seem real to you, but you are responding to a feeling, not a fact.
If you refuse to give feelings power over your thoughts and actions, they will lose their hold on you over time.
– Augie Garrido, from his book Life Is Yours to Win
“What you fear is what you create.”
If we really think about our own experiences, we know that challenging statement is true. We can look back on our own lives and note times when the worries and fears we dwelled on the most often came to fruition. And those that didn’t come to fruition usually led to other negative consequences—such as extreme stress, poor health, or simply not being able to enjoy the moment because we’re lost in our fears.
Yet, even if we recognize that dwelling on fears only makes things worse, it’s difficult to release those fears. We justify our worrying by telling ourselves we’re being practical.
To be clear, Augie Garrido isn’t talking about physical fears. The fear of fire or falling or the physical capabilities of an opponent we are facing—those are all very real and practical fears. We must prepare appropriately for such physical dangers.
What we’re talking about eliminating are the emotional fears that come from within. The voice in your head that repeats worries about failure over and over again. That tendency to envision defeat, disappointment, poor health, etc.
These emotional fears must be released. They do you no good. They only bring you down mentally and actually make it more likely that you’ll experience those fears in reality.
How do you protect yourself from these menacing emotional fears? The first step is to get in the habit of instantly recognizing your fears.
Once you recognize that a recurring fear or worry is entering your mind, envision a big, red STOP sign the next time it shows up. This alerts your mind that what it’s allowing in is something that isn’t good for you; it’s something you don’t want in your mind.
This visualization technique immediately shifts you from a passive approach to a proactive approach. You’re no longer letting your thoughts happen to you, but instead you’re taking control of what you choose to focus on.
But the stop-sign signal alone often won’t completely eliminate the fear. (Fears and worries have a tendency to come back again and again.)
After you recognize the fear or worry, you must then replace it with positive, empowering thoughts—thoughts of what you want to have happen, not what you don’t.
One of the best ways to replace a negative fear is to instantly start thinking of a long-term goal that you are passionate about (like landing a dream job, winning a championship, hitting a new personal record in the weight room, etc.). This will reverse the negative effect your fear is having on your mind. When the fear comes in, you recognize it, stop it, and replace it with a reminder to focus on your goal.
In this way, the fear or worry ends up triggering something positive instead of something negative. The fear serves as a reminder for you to get back to work on envisioning your goal.
There are several different techniques you can use to conquer your fears and negative thoughts and I wrote about them extensively in my book, Relentless Optimism.
Don’t passively lose the battle against fear. Be proactive with your thinking. Make it a priority to recognize and eliminate those unnecessary fears.