Written by Keely Maree 

To begin this article, I am going to start with an oldie but a goodie – “When you put your mind to something, anything is possible.” And that begins a truly magnificent conversation about how your state of mind creates your reality.

When I was holidaying in San Francisco recently, I was fortunate to meet a man named Theo Bennett. He actually approached my husband and I, possibly because as we stuck out with our blatantly Aussie accents. Theo is an expat New Zealander and decided that our conversation pertaining to something fitness related was interesting enough to poke his head into. He started with a simple introduction, which we welcomed. It’s funny how we would have probably found his intrusion annoying if we’d been in a café in Melbourne, but here in a foreign land, we enjoyed the comradery of the familiar.

He explained that he lived part time in Brazil training himself in Jujitsu and the rest of his time travelling in the US where he coached a female rugby team. He’d lived a fascinating life, working with athletes in the US armed forces and his general experience in developing a human being’s potential.

One thing he spoke about was people having two distinct qualities, in what he referred to as “hardware” and “software.” The gist of it was that People can be born with the ability to complete a certain task very well, but it is the software, or mindset, that ultimately dictates whether they will succeed. If a person worked really hard at something, but may not have been as innately gifted as other people in the group, that determination and dedication could be the formula that saw them reach their end goal over someone who had more natural abilities.

Theo says; “There needs to be a ‘buying in’ and weight of importance into the decision to change. Also, a pairing of realistic perspectives and the activity, meaning there needs to be a clear understanding of where you are in relation to the change, what the benefits are and the obstacles that could be encountered, and then the willingness to pursue under uncomfortable processes of change to make it to outcomes.”

Drawing from my own experience working within sporting communities as both referee, coach and player, at a local level in basketball, the conversation I had with Theo rang familiar.

During my adolescence, I kept myself out of trouble by spending weekends at the local basketball stadium. It was good pocket money and kept me reasonably fit. It was also the first time I had been exposed to people and their level of athletic performance. From the time I was sixteen, I was handling A-grade level competition, with adults. It became obvious that those who were constantly developing their skill started to out-match their more talented opponents.

Without naming names, there were two athletes that spring to mind. One was an amazingly gifted basketball talent. He was tall, fast and… lazy. His weekends were spent getting drunk and word got around that he was unreliable when it came to showing up to training. He still managed court time, simply because he was naturally so good. There was another player, who was also tall, but had far less natural talent. His build was bulkier and he wasn’t as fast off the mark. Over holiday periods, when everyone else was taking a break, he was quietly showing up every day to the local outdoor courts to practice his three-point shot and working on his foot work. By the time the new competition started, the more determined player was out-scoring and out moving the more gifted one.

While on the topic of basketball, Kobe Bryant is a shining example of one of the highest paid, most highly respected and most sought-after players in the NBA and while he is crazy talented, it is his work ethic and mindset that paved the way for him. In high school, he would show up for training at 5am and would conduct grueling work-outs two or three or four times per day. The man would sacrifice sleep to ensure he could show up and bring the best version of himself. When he recently accepted an ESPY awarded, he was quoted as saying in his acceptance speech; “We’re not on this stage just because of talent or ability… We’re up here because we had a dream and let nothing stand in our way. If anything tried to bring us down, we used it to make us stronger.”

Mind-set means that no matter how many times you feel like giving up or get blocked, you can over-come that feeling of backing down and use the set-back to fuel your determination to improve.

When it comes to the topic of using your mindset for success, then it has to be said that it would extend beyond the realm of athletes and into people who have created and built their own companies and brands.

Now, I am not one who generally likes to sing the praises of “influencers” but when I had the opportunity to meet Lola Berry, I was inspired. Lola is a self-made brand, who has published several healthy eating cook-books, is a yogi at heart and owns the “Happy Place” in South Melbourne.  Her Instagram is populated with up-lifting images and positivity and Lola is nothing short of authentic to her brand. Although I knew she was down to earth, when she agreed to guest teach a yoga class at my Studio in Melbourne’s West, I was blown away with how easy-going charm and noticed immediately how there genuinely was no ego about her.

Lola openly spoke with our yogi’s about her philosophies, her battles with body image and even spoke about her set-backs and dealing with online trolls. It revealed how her positive circle of people had kept her strong through-out some pretty awful experiences. She kept her eyes fixed on her ultimate goal and although the negativity did affect her – she’s only human – she used it as a resource to better herself and learn from.

When I asked her how she kept such a strong mind-set, her answer, like her mantra’s, is to focus inward and look after your mental health as well as your physical health. Lola said to me; “I think mental health stuff is still swept under the rug. If you want to really succeed then I think mental health needs to be number one. That’s the advice I give anyone who wants to achieve their dreams. Because it’s not as simple as writing them down in your dream book. You have to do the time, it’s hard and often people don’t want to see you succeed. So, have to learn to have your own back. That’s where maintaining a strong mindset if key.”

It demonstrated to me that every person who is chasing a goal will encounter challenges along the way, the defining moment is how you use this learning to improve and fortify your mindset.

When I decided to start my own company, much like Lola, I was bombarded with people’s opinions about my future. Much was positive, but as always, there was some who quietly reminded me how risky it would be and that I might not be ready for the task. Best I stay home, where it’s safe and have babies. And through my own sense of self belief, I came to realize that anyone who spoke with reservation was likely coming from a place of their own insecurities or unfilled dreams.

It’s a difficult thing to explain, but once you know what feeds your soul, it becomes the spark that ignites your very being into life. Keeping that focus in sight is what leads you on the journey to success, whatever that might look like.

My version of success never came with an ultimate dollar sign that I had to procure before I felt accomplished. It was a little bit like what Kobe Bryant said about being present and willing for the process. There is really is no end point, just milestones along the way.

When I met Mini Latif, founder of Ottoman 3 brow bars, I was a little bit smitten. She struck me with her aura of authority and self-assurance, but was still kind and generous. Mini built her company from the ground up, backed herself financially and doing it all as a single mum. She currently has four stores across Melbourne and is set to continue to grow. To be able to juggle all of this is nothing short of a mindset carved from steel.

My job requires me to interact and understand each person as they come to me. I believe I have gotten better at being able to recognize mind-set and motivation when I see it. There are plenty of people who will make every excuse under the sun as to why they aren’t achieving their goals, but the operative word is excuse.

An excuse is a justification for failure to follow through.

It releases the conscious mind from having to take responsibility and justifies inaction. It keeps a person stationary and usually quite miserable, because slowly that habit of making excuses becomes normal.

Blaming other people or situations is easier than owning the devastating truth that no-one else can improve you or incarnate your goals. And quite frankly, if you dwell in this negative, unhealthy space, you don’t deserve them. As Lola said “if you have self-doubt or you're sad, it's much harder to achieve big dreams, let alone little goals”

As demonstrated by some of the positive role models that I have been lucky enough to meet or admire, mind-set is something that can be moved, altered and improved upon and it’s the ultimate journey to meeting a successful future. No matter how much talent you have, it will never beat hard work, discipline and focus.

If you want to change something, start with your mindset.

The rest will follow.

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