Have you ever heard someone say, “Just think positive!”? In the personal development space — especially when we talk about athletes — there are many people who preach positive energy. I’ve never really been one to talk about it myself, but it’s definitely a hot topic.
It makes sense. There’s plenty of research that shows the effects of positive thinking versus negative thinking on your performance, whether in sports or business or anything else. But my guest today has an interesting perspective that can really help you #MAXOUT your thinking in a little bit of a different way.
“I had to ultimately come with a message that was going to make sense in sports. … There’s no bullshitting the truth. You have to be big. You have to be fast. You have to be strong. You have to be explosive. You have to have hands, but your mind is like a steering wheel. … It might be a small part of the car, but it gets you where you need to go.” - Trevor Moawad
My guest on this episode is Trevor Moawad, and you guys, he’s a genius. He’s got this incredible perspective on the power of your mindset and using neutral thinking instead of positive thinking to get the job done. Let me just give you guys a little preview, because what this guy has to say is straight-up gold:
“So let’s think of it as a car. I’m going backwards. I can’t go forward all at once. I got to go to the middle and … that middle ground is neutral. So the idea of being neutral, it is ultimately the acceptance of the past as real." - Trevor Moawad
Sound interesting? I know it does. Seriously you guys, you’re going to want to take some heavy-duty notes on this one, because my man Trevor really brings it. If you’re ready to STOP negative thoughts, learn how to think neutrally, and #MAXOUT your mindset, join me on this episode with Trevor Moawad.
Before we dive in, I want to talk a little bit about Trevor, because this guy has a pretty fantastic list of credentials. To start, he is the son of the late Bob Moawad, a world-renowned peak performance educator. Bob was actually one of the original contributors to “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” and is a former president of the National Association for Self-Esteem. He definitely set a high bar for his son!
And Trevor has risen to that expectation. Trevor was an all-conference, two-sport athlete at Occidental College, which, by the way, is the same school attended by Jack Kemp and Barack Obama. No big deal. Trevor was eventually inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at the Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Washington, and in 2018 he was selected as the Distinguished Alumni of the Year. His alma mater Occidental also presents the “Trevor Moawad Leadership Award” every year to the school’s top male and female athletes who show strong leadership on and off the field.
But Trevor isn’t just an epic athlete. To borrow his words, “psychologically [he’s] ready to rock and roll.” This guy is one of the top performance coaches in the world. He’s worked with 11 first-round draft picks in the NFL, just to start. He’s worked with over 700 athletes and eight national championship teams.
And he doesn’t just work with athletes! This guy is a coach to the coaches, too. He’s worked a lot with Nick Saban as well as Kirby Smart and Jimbo Fisher. In 2017, Sports Illustrated named him the “World’s Best Brain Trainer,” which is honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
Trevor has even branched out of the athletic world and into business as well. It makes sense — the principles that make you successful on the field have a ton of applications, and they’ll help you create business success. Trevor’s worked with Harvard’s Business School and helped Fortune 500 companies #MAXOUT their success.
This man has a simple approach to peak performance, and it works. He’s built an impressive career teaching about the concept of “neutral thinking,” and it works. In fact, he recently wrote a book on the topic: It Takes What It Takes: How to Think Neutrally and Gain Control of Your Life. I highly recommend picking it up if you get the chance. I devoured it, and it will change your life.
Don’t click away from this post yet, though, because Trevor is here, and he’s sharing a lot of brilliance with us today. He talks a lot about exactly how powerful negative thinking can be, and he shows how you can change your thinking to succeed and thrive. So if you’re ready to #MAXOUT your mindset and learn how neutral thinking can change your life, keep reading!
I want to talk about exactly how powerful negative thinking is. Let me hit you with some of the statistics Trevor shared right out of the gate:
Those are staggering to me. Negative thinking — and even just the consumption of negative thinking — can have a dramatic effect on our mindset and our ability to succeed. But here are the statistics that really got my attention:
“[Negative thinking is] a multiple [of] four to seven times more powerful than its equivalent positivity. … And then what we started to learn was that if we say things out loud, they’re ten times more powerful than if we think [them]. … So if I’m saying negative things out loud, ‘I don’t want to be here. I hate … the heat. What’s going on in our world right now?’ … then I’m increasing the probability that what I don’t want to happen will happen by 40 to 70 times.” - Trevor Moawad
Let’s talk about that. Thinking negative thoughts increases the odds that what you don’t want to happen will happen by four to seven times, and saying your negative thoughts out loud multiplies those odds by ten. That means that just by saying negative things, we make them significantly more likely to happen.
That can absolutely be the determining factor between SUCCESS and FAILURE.
Do any of you guys remember Bill Buckner? Bill Buckner played for the Red Sox and lost the 1986 World Series for his team. It was the last inning, and everybody was packing up and going home with the assurance that the Red Sox had the game locked up. But then Buckner let a slow ground ball go right through his legs. He lost a sure game, and that was the cap on his career.
But here’s the interesting thing Trevor shared with me: Just a few years ago, they found an old recorded interview with Buckner where he says, “The dream would be to win the world series. But my real nightmare would be to let the game-winning run score on a ground ball through my legs to cost us the World Series.” He said his negative thoughts out loud.
“I’m a big believer in the power of language. … And this is what we know: saying it didn’t make it happen, but it increased the probability by 40 to 70 times that would happen.” - Trevor Moawad
Bill Buckner had a fear that he would let the ground ball roll through his legs, he said that fear out loud, and he manifested it to happen. That’s the power of negative thinking, guys.
Trevor had a term for what happened to Bill Buckner. He called it a “subconscious plant.” Our negative thoughts work their way into our subconscious minds. That’s where they start to do the real damage.
“We have a conscious mind, you know, which is right now. And then we have a subconscious mind, which is operating in our self-talk, you know, … at hundreds of words a minute … and it goes to our memory. … And so it’s one of those things that we’ve said something … a handful of times or over and over again, we’ve created part of an identity.” - Trevor Moawad
When you repeat negative words to yourself, they become part of your identity, and then you manifest that identity into existence. That’s what happened to Buckner. He repeated his fear of letting a ground ball roll by him and losing the World Series for the Red Sox so many times it became his expectation for himself, and so it happened. That fear became a subconscious plant in his mind, and that plant caused him to fail when the moment came.
But the good news is that subconscious plants work in reverse too. Trevor told me an awesome story he heard from his dad back in the day. Now back in the ’80s, the SAT had two parts — math and verbal — each scored out of 800 points so that a total perfect score would be 1600. Now there was this guy who was a pretty low-performing student who promised his mom he’d take the test even though nobody expected him to do well. He took the test in May, and in June got back a 1480. That’s an incredible score!
And this created what Trevor refers to as “cognitive dissonance.” That is, this guy’s expectations didn’t line up with what actually happened. But in the face of that dissonance, what does he do?
“And so this guy says, ‘People think the 1480 is what changed my life, but what, in truth, really changed my life is when I started acting like a 1480. And what does a 1480 do? He goes to class.’ Wow.” - Trevor Moawad
So this guy starts going to class and trying hard in school, and his teachers see the difference and start to treat him differently as a result. Fast forward a few years, and this guy has graduated with an MBA and become this incredibly successful magazine entrepreneur.
What a success story! But here’s the thing: That guy didn’t really get a 1480 on his SAT. The SAT board reached out to him later and apologized, saying he was one of 13 people who were actually sent the wrong score, and he actually made a 740.
This guy didn’t succeed in his life and career because he magically became smart overnight. He succeeded because he started acting like he was smart.
Don’t say stupid things. And don’t say stupid things out loud! When you do that, you create these subconscious plants in your brain that cause you to fail and manifest your negative thoughts.
Here’s where we really get into it, guys. “Neutral thinking” is central to Trevor’s simple method, but what is it exactly, and how can it help you succeed?
Let’s go back to that quote I mentioned earlier:
“So let’s think of it as a car. I’m going backwards. I can’t go forward all at once. I got to go to the middle and … that middle ground is neutral. So the idea of being neutral, it is ultimately the acceptance of the past as real.” - Trevor Moawad
Okay, so we have to accept that the past is real. Our failures and setbacks really happened. But Trevor continues:
“But while the past is real, it’s not predictive. … What you do next is what determines your future.” - Trevor Moawad
So the past is real, but it doesn’t predict the future. Once you’ve accepted that the past happened, you have to stop focusing on why you failed and start thinking about what you can do next. But you can’t do that all at once! You’ve got to get to a neutral position first.
Trevor uses the example of the Apollo 13 crew to show neutral thinking. We’ve all heard the story, right? Three astronauts were up in a spaceship on their way to the moon when something went wrong. There was a significant problem with the ship, and suddenly they didn’t know if they were going to land on the moon.
“So ‘can we still land on the moon?’ is the ultimate neutral statement. It’s not positive. It’s not negative. Can we land? No. Mmm, alright, okay, we can’t land. … Can we still orbit the … moon in this thing? No. Alright, so this is our reality. This ship’s not going to work. Can we get to the LM, orbit, and circle back? Yes! How would we do that?” - Trevor Moawad
Thinking neutrally is not about being positive. It’s not about saying, “It’s okay that we can’t land on the moon!” And it’s also not about being negative. If those guys on Apollo 13 had allowed negative thinking to influence them, they never would have made it home. Instead, they took this neutral thinking approach. They just said, “Okay, this thing happened. Now what can we do?”
By making these kinds of neutral statements by acknowledging that the past is real and then immediately choosing to see what you can do next, you can avoid letting negative thinking create those subconscious plants I mentioned earlier. That way, you don’t create a negative identity for yourself. Instead, you CONQUER your negative thoughts and WIN!
We create our own successes and failures. When we think negative thoughts, we create negative identities. That’s how we manifest failures and setbacks and adversity both on and off the field.
But when we think neutral thoughts, we allow ourselves to think creatively. When we stop forcing ourselves in this negative mindset and instead approach problems and setbacks from the standpoint of, “Okay, this happened. What do I do next?” we can actually manifest success. We can win. We can #MAXOUT.
“I think people who become successful do successful-people things, and people who struggle do struggle-people things. And so what happens … if I’m a struggle person and I keep doing [struggle-people things], well, I know the outcome. I would rather aim high and miss than aim low and hit, and aiming low is not helping… so focus more on a behavior.” - Trevor Moawad
Are you going to be a successful person or a struggle person? You get to decide. But if you want to succeed, start doing successful-people things. STOP negative thinking, START neutral thinking, and WIN.
If you guys loved this episode, go pick up Trevor’s new book, It Takes What It Takes: How to Think Neutrally and Gain Control of Your Life. You can also follow Trevor on Instagram, @trevormoawad. While you’re there, make sure you’re following me, too, @edmylett.
Thanks for checking out this episode. Make sure you share it with the hashtag #MAXOUT! Tell me your biggest takeaways from the episode in the comments below! I read your comments every week, and a few select winners get all sorts of prizes from gear to coaching calls with me!
Are you ready to WIN? Are you ready to STOP negative thinking? Do you want to start seeing more success in your life? If so, Trevor Moawad’s simple strategy for neutral thinking is an incredible tool to help you #MAXOUT your life.
Thanks, guys. Catch you next time!