The latest stories, straight to your inbox

The latest stories, straight to your inbox

Be inspired every day with Living North

Subscribe today and get every issue delivered direct to your door
Subscribe Now
Be inspired every day with Living North
How to Think Successfully
Health and beauty
April 2022
Reading time 5 Minutes

Living North columnist Dr Maurice Duffy explains why, to be successful, you need to feed your mind with success

As we all look on in awe at the amazing feats at the Winter Olympics, should we whether Olympic athletes are superhuman or just robots, or are they somehow a different species from the rest of us? What can we learn from their extraordinary endeavours?

In  my  experience  of  working  with  great  champions,  from  Olympians  to  hugely  successful  businesspeople,  to  be  a champion, you must compete. To be a great success, you must compete  with  the  best;  but  to  achieve  your  greatest success,  you must compete with yourself.

I  was  watching  Max  Parrot  achieve  great  things  this  week  –  three  years  after  serious  chemotherapy  treatments  for Hodgkins disease, during which he lost all his muscle tone and fitness and was very ill for six months. Max completed an  inspiring   comeback   from   extraordinary   challenges   by  winning  the  gold  medal  in  the  men’s  slopestyle  at  the Winter  Olympics,  on  a  course  that  includes  replicas  of  the  Great  Wall  of  China.  ‘I  had  to  stop  everything  to  fight and  fight for my dreams,’ he said.  ‘I felt like a lion in a cage as everything  I  lived  for  was  taken  away  when  I  got Hodgkin  and I had to get it back.’  And wow, did he just do that. An Olympic gold medal.

So, what makes Max different from us? Max is not superhuman nor a robot, he is just like you and me, with the same doubts, concerns  and  anxieties.  However,  he  has  two  differences;  he  had cancer get between him and his dreams, but he did not let any obstacle get in the way.

‘To be a great success, you must compete with the best; but to achieve your greatest success,you must compete with yourself’

Max Parrot Max Parrot

For  many  of  us,  age,  fitness,  laziness,  and  anxiety  set  our  limitations.  We  don’t  stop  playing  because  we  grow  old, we  grow  old  because  we  stop  playing.  The  very  real  key  to  our  success  is  not  through  achievement  but  through our  enthusiasm.

I say, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be  where  you’ve  always  been,  as  the  health  of  your  brain is  much more about your actions than your age. I ask that you leap off the fence of indecision. Get out of the ‘want to’ lane and put yourself into the ‘got to’ lane.

You  know  dreams  are  free,  but  goals  have  a  cost,  and  the  costs  include  taking  action  and  building  resilience. Goals  don’t  come  without  a  price,  which  is  time,  effort,  sacrifice,  and sweat. It’s what successful people like the business people and athletes I work with show me every day. If you can see it here and you have courage enough to speak it, it will happen. People believe in certain things, but they keep it to themselves, they  don’t  put  it  out  there.  If  you  truly believe  in  it,  if  you  become vocal with it, you create that law of attraction and it will  become  reality.  Ronaldo,  one  of  the  greatest  footballers  of all time, said: ‘I’ve never tried to hide the fact that it is my intention to become the best.’

We often see very successful people as rather inhuman, robots, somehow  a  different  species  from  the  rest  of  us,  no longer  prey to randomness, luck or doubt. Swimmer Michael Phelps said:  ‘Strength  does  not  come  from  winning.  Your struggles  develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.’ 

So, how do you feed your mind with success?

1. Get a vision board: I believe whatever we think about we bring  about.  Everybody  has  to  find  their  own  stroke.  What underlies  all  winning  mentalities  is  optimism  and  belief  in  their  vision.  You  must  stay  with  it  and  truly  believe  in  the  prize and reinforce that belief all along the way. I often tell my clients  that  failure,  self-doubt  and  negative  opinions (both  internal  and  external)  are  normal.  Expect  them.  Deal  with  them and keep moving forward.

2. Commitment: Commitment is a big part of what I believe. How committed are you to being successful? How committed are  you  to  being  a  good  friend?  To  being  trustworthy?  To  winning? How committed are you to being a good father or mother,  a  good  teammate,  a  good  role  model?  There’s  that  moment every morning when you look in the mirror: are you committed,  or  are  you  not?  Success  at  anything  will  always  come down to this: focus and effort. And we control both.

3. Generate momentum with small steps: I hear many people talking  about  ‘riding  the  wave’.  Successful  people  aren’t that  passive. They live by this motto: ‘First build your wave, then ride it’. 

4. Take Action: Ultimately, you can’t think your way to a goal. You  have  to  take  action.  Winning  mindsets  aren’t  innate. They’re developed.Success is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking  more  than  others  think  is  safe, dreaming  more  than  others think is practical, committing more than other believe reasonable, overcoming doubts and obstacles that others are afraid of, and expecting more than others think is possible.

Dr Maurice Duffy is Visiting Professor at Sunderland, consulting coach  to  the  NHS,  the  Australian  cricket  team,  Durham  Cricket  Club, international golfers, rugby and many sports people, and also coaches  many  senior  FTSE  100  business  leaders  and  politicians  around  the  world.  Find  out  more  at  or  follow him on twitter @thebeaksquawks

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

Please read our Cookie policy.