Mental Shifts to Thrive in Preparation and Performance

with Brian Levenson

About the Episode

Performers at the highest levels don’t rely solely on their natural abilities. In its place, they capitalize on the advantages of switching between two distinct yet mutually reinforcing states of mind: one for thorough preparation and another for peak performance under pressure. My guest today is Brian Levenson, an executive and mental performance coach who has spent years working with top achievers in the fields of sports, business, and the arts. Brian was surprised by what he saw from the sports field to the executive suite. Many talented people were falling short of their ambitions not because they lacked the required talents but because they lacked an appreciation for the thought patterns that drove them. In today’s episode, Brian reveals his findings for making the mindset adjustment necessary to excel at both preparation and performance.

Brian is the founder of Strong Skills, a company that delivers executive coaching, mental performance coaching, speaking engagements, and consulting services to elite organizations, performers, and leaders. He has had the privilege of working with CEOs, professional athletes, and teams from the NBA, NHL, and MLS, as well as the Federal Reserve, the Department of Homeland Security, Hilton, the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and numerous other organizations. In addition, he offers a weekly podcast called Intentional Performers, in which he does interviews with a variety of exceptional high performers. His book, Shift Your Mind outlines nine mental shifts that will help you think like a stellar performer.

In an effort to find the secret of top performers, Brian started talking to high-achieving people from many walks of life, including ex-CIA agents, world-class chefs, astronauts, athletes, CEOs, and more. He discovered that people move between two unique but complementary mental states: one for comprehensive preparation and another for optimal performance under duress. Those at the pinnacle of their professions, such as swimmer Diana Nyad, singer Taylor Swift, and legendary football coach Tom Coughlin, can only go from one mindset to another via repetition. Throughout the talk, Brian shares almost all of his discoveries and touches on a wide range of segments related to the topic at hand. Most importantly, he elaborates widely on the significance of having an unshakable belief in oneself, the value of teamwork, the difference between analysis and instinct, and, lastly, the practice of mindfulness.

Topics Discussed

Three Foundations [08:23]
Brian outlines three major insights to be gleaned from his book. 
Framework [13:25]
Getting the reps to execute without you being present.
Culture [20:12]
We talk about the importance of relationships in shaping culture and how leaders aren't necessarily the ones who do it.
Fun and Joy [25:57]
Brian mentions what practices he has established to ensure that everyone on the team works hard when necessary but also takes time to have fun when appropriate.
Believe Yourself [37:01]
We spend a lot of time talking about how crucial it is to have unwavering faith in oneself. 
Practice [51:26]
The cultivation of our nature can be accomplished most effectively through work. 
Perfectionist [59:29]
It is simple to have a dream. Developing meticulous behaviors that propel you toward your goal is difficult. But letting go of perfection when it comes to performance can be pretty tricky.
Mindfulness [01:19:32]
Brian opens up on the significant impact that mindfulness and meditation have had on several aspects of his life.

Connect with Brian Levenson

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