How the World’s Top Performers CHOOSE to Think

Steve Stricker and Nick PriceDr. Bob Rotella is perhaps the world’s most famous sports psychologist. He’s worked closely with many of the world’s top golfers, as well as top coaches, musicians, writers, and business leaders.

His decades of research and first-hand experience with top performers have made it clear to him that top achievers think differently—much differently—than everyone else.

A topic that Dr. Rotella returns to again and again is the importance of confidence and optimism.

People with confident, optimistic outlooks tend to succeed,” Dr. Rotella says. “People who are pessimistic, who lack confidence, tend to fail.”

Dr. Rotella is also adamant that confidence is something that anyone can develop. One must CHOOSE to be confident. He insists that confidence isn’t something that you receive after you win, it’s something that you must develop in order to win.

Here’s how you develop it…


I tell [golfers] to try to feel their confidence is increasing over the course of every round, every tournament, and every season.

They can do this if they learn to be selective about their thoughts and their memories.

They have to learn to monitor their thinking and ask themselves whether an idea that springs to mind is likely to help them or hurt them in the effort to grow more confident.

If it won’t help them, they have to make a conscious choice to put that thought out of their mind and turn to one that will enhance their confidence. They have to focus on what they want to happen, be it a particular shot or an entire career.

Everyone thinks this way some of the time. Doing it consistently is a habit that requires disciplined effort.

This is what Nick Price (a three-time Major champion) learned to do. He told me, the only thoughts that enter his mind on the golf course are thoughts about what he wants to do—where he wants to place his tee shot, where he wants his approach to land, and how he wants his putts to fall. The prospect of hitting a drive into the woods or running a putt way past the hole simply does not occur to him.

It can sound a little bit like self-deception. But it isn’t.

It is simply the way that great athletes, or successful people in any filed, have trained themselves to think.


– Dr. Bot Rotella, from his book Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect

Top performers know that they must have a confident and optimistic mindset in order to succeed over a long period of time.

To develop a winner’s mindset, you must monitor your thoughts closely. You have to instantly eliminate negative thoughts—thoughts of things you don’t want to happen—and replace them with positive thoughts—thoughts of things you do want to happen.

It’s not easy to do this. It requires focused effort and discipline. But the first step is to simply acknowledge that it must be done if you want to be successful and happy.

A confident and optimistic mindset won’t magically appear one day; it’s something that must be proactively developed and consistently maintained.

The mindset you develop is a choice you make. To develop a winner’s mindset, you must first start monitoring your thoughts and eliminating the negativity.