MINDSET IS EVERYTHING: You Have to Want It, But Not Too Much

Joe Montana, Hall of Fame quarterback, said it well, that “the key to performing well under pressure (i.e. not “choking in the clutch”) is ‘when you care…but not that much.’”  Mindset is everything and ironically, you need both of these mindsets to succeed.

Maybe you want to make money from your ideas, teach what you know, or create an online course.  Becoming a Knowledge Entrepreneur is mentally stimulating, financially lucrative, and can truly make a difference in people’s lives.

But you need The Success Twins as a part of your success mindset as you go on this journey.

When people talk about their goals, I always wonder how much they want it because I know there will be sacrifices involved.  So, you need to really, really want to reach your goals.  You need to be intense, with steel-focused precision in your gaze; but, the irony is that wanting something too much can throw you off.

Really, really, really wanting something sets you up for two things:  success and failure…but not usually in that order.

But without this dual mindset of wanting it, but also being willing to let it go, we will get hung up somewhere, be it in our professional or personal lives.

Do You Have to Be “Hungry” When You Are Pursuing Your Goals?

When sales organizations or sports teams are recruiting, you will often hear the phrase: “You have to be hungry.” What recruiters mean by this is that they look for prospects that have intense desire/heart/passion; that is, a mindset for success. They know this desire will keep them “in the game” when not much else will. The recruits must want success badly enough to plunge through many obstacles in order to achieve it and develop a  successful mindset.

2 facesThe Twins: Great Desire, No Desire Must Be a Part of Your Success Mindset

 So just how important is the desire to make something happen? Incredibly important. But the desire in and of itself is not enough. You must have its twin:  Great Desire. No Desire. Or, really wanting it, yet not wanting it. Yes, you read that right. Great desire and not wanting something are key. This concept is a complex, but important, the paradox of success.

The “care…but not that much” principle will be a part of every one of your successes, whenever they finally do come. I have also heard the principle explained as “positive detachment.”



Mindset is Everything:  Watch the Relaxed Intensity of a Cheetah

For me, the phrase “relaxed intensity” allows me to own the concept. It reminds me to stay in intense pursuit and yet, conversely, to stay relaxed and open-palmed about the results. It reminds me to always accompany my initial enthusiasm of “Wahoo!” with the equally important “Whatever!”

Since I am by nature an intense person, this “Whatever!” part does not come easily to me. If I want something, I go after it…and I go after it with gusto! Let’s take the hill! Pull the ripcord! Full steam ahead! No holds barred! Let’s do it! You get the idea.

I cannot begin to tell you how much this “Wahoo! Let’s Go For It! Attitude” has gotten me into trouble. I also cannot begin to tell you how much this “Wahoo! Let’s Go For It! Attitude” has helped me to achieve the things I have wanted to achieve.

“What’s the key here?” “Do I let myself want it or not?” The answer, of course, is “both.”


Five Examples of How to Make These Dueling Mindsets Work for You

Let me share a few examples of observing first-hand the application of this principle.

1. Mindset is Everything in Your Personal Life

babyI first started sharing this principle at conferences when I spoke about a success-oriented mindset. Invariably, at conference after conference, I would have a different woman come up to me afterward and validate the principle with her story.

The story that emerged would be about a couple who had tried and tried for years to have a biological child, and then finally they gave up, deciding to adopt instead. The irony of ironies, within a few months (often less than a year) after they adopted the child, the couple would find themselves pregnant. The minute the couple relaxed instead of being so intense in the pursuit of their goal, it happened. In essence, they let go and Presto Bingo, a biological child was in the cooker

Isn’t the dating concept of “playing hard to get” exactly this same phenomenon? There must be some interest shown or the other person won’t be around at all. If you want the person at all costs, you can bet you will lose them.

2. Mindset is Everything in Sales 

Listening 2 men at lunch one intently listening to otherHave you ever been around salespeople who were “too hungry” and it repelled the very result they wanted: a sale? Again, they had the intensity part but not the relaxed part down.

Jason was such a salesman. He had left an office job as a manager to go into sales—straight commission. Jason had gone through the sales training course and was now six weeks into selling. Before he was hired, he was instructed that it was a requirement of the company for all new sales agents to have three months’ worth of income to live on while they began their sales careers.

Jason reported that he had three months of income, which was fudging just a little bit; he, in fact, had two months’ worth of savings to live on. Jason felt this was plenty and he was confident he would be in full swing within six weeks.

Six weeks went by and Jason had not made one sale. Panic had been replaced by terror, as he had a wife and two small children at home. The more desperate he became, the more he pushed.  But, it seemed the more he pushed, the fewer results he got.

Finally, in hopelessness and exasperation, he had decided he was going to have to quit, but he would simply finish out the week. Friday came and he just wanted to get through the day. He was already finished as far as he was concerned.

It was that day he made his first sale—and not just one, but three. Jason went on to serve twenty years in the sales field, taking top awards from time to time in his career, but he never forgot the lesson of that Friday.  When you “care…but not too much,” you hit the maximum point of production.

To say that Jason from that moment on improved his mindset is to say the least–he got the point.

Crome Arrow3. Mindset is Everything in Negotiation

In negotiation, the byword is “Never go into a negotiation from which you can’t walk away.” Well now, how much sense does that make? You wouldn’t be in the negotiation in the first place if you didn’t want what the other party had to offer, right? And why bother with the whole process at all if you don’t really want it? But, once again, the principle holds true: You must want it…but not too much.

Have you ever known people who wanted wealth “too much” and it led them into shaky investments and high-risk ventures that sapped them of their financial vitality? In the process of wanting it “too much,” did they lose the opportunity to really create it?

4. Mindset is Everything in Your Personal Communication

In conflict resolution and mediation, I have also seen this principle. In order to explain it within that context, I use the phrase “Stay present, but unhooked.”

In other words, stay present (don’t leave physically or emotionally), but don’t get hooked and so enmeshed that you can’t step back from the process. You must want resolution…but not too much.

Have you ever met someone who wanted to be liked “too much”? And because they wanted to be liked so much, they tried to be whatever you wanted them to be? And then you ended up not liking them because of that very trait? There is such a thing as trying too hard. Learning that fact will go a long way toward your improving your mindset.

5. Mindset is Everything in Your Public Speaking

In public speaking, when people are so afraid of public failure, they must hit this invested/not-invested place. If they are so terrified they can’t function at all, they won’t get through the delivery. Conversely, if they are too “relaxed” (ho-hum…this is old hat), they will not have the energy to communicate and inspire an audience. There must be a little rush, fear, adrenaline, investment, caring, and intensity—whatever you want to call it—to do well. But too much almost guarantees failure.

Holding these dual concepts in your mind is hard enough, but trying to live them out every day is even harder. At first glance, they seem mutually exclusive.

How An Olympic Athlete Uses This Mindset

An Olympic runner shared with me one of her favorite phrases that her coach said all the time, “It’s just a footrace.” It was his way of putting everything in perspective and introducing the Twisted Twins.

A Beautiful Cheetah Embodies These Twin Parallel Concepts Which are So Essential for a Success Mindset

To help myself remember this parallel, a beautiful, graceful cheetah in focused pursuit of its prey gives me a mental image. I see its strong muscles, its graceful bounds, its contained energy springing first to the ground and then into the air, bounding fluidly toward its mark/goal.

The cheetah doesn’t pace at the edge of the antelope herd, stressing out, saying, “Oh, man I really, really, really want that antelope, but if I try and fail, I will just scare them all away and then the whole opportunity is down the tubes.”

Nor do you see it cowering, shaking, freaking out, with wide big eyes at all those opportunities (antelopes) but feeling too insignificant and too overcome with apathy or fear to do anything about it.

Instead, you see all possible resources pulled into play, a focused gaze and, with what a human would call a mindset for success, with graceful, intense, relaxed energy, the cheetah shoots from its crouched position into action–an action that ultimately creates success. Cheetah Success—just what we’re after!


(Using Knowledge You Already Have)

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