Alright kids, story time. Not from me, but from Trevor Moawad, one of the top mindset coaches who works with professional athletes.
He was recently on the Ed Mylett podcast (May 2020) and Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu (March 2020) and told this story that has really stuck with me. Please go listen or watch either of these episodes on Youtube or your podcast platform.
On the podcasts, he relayed a story his father told him about one of the most successful magazine entrepreneurs in the world.
The entrepreneur was a screw up in high school. He was struggling to pass, hanging out with the wrong crowd, and was about to get kicked out. In the 1980s there was a test called the SAT, with math and verbal accumulating to 800 points each.
He was being raised by a single mom in the Midwest. He promised his mom he would take the test and expects nothing – but does it for his mom. He takes the test in May, gets the results in June. He scored a whopping 1480 out of 1600! His Mom asks what any Mom would, “Did you cheat? You must have cheated.” He said he tried to cheat, but the spacing of chairs was too far and made it impossible.
As he enters his senior year, he thinks, “If I’m smart, I might as well go to class.” So he starts trying and going to class. He stops hanging out with his old crowd. Teachers take notice and start to treat him differently.
He graduates, attends community college, goes on to Wichita State, and eventually to an Ivy League. He goes on to become a successful magazine entrepreneur.
You think, he’s smart. He just needed the standardized test to unlock his potential. No. This isn’t the story. What comes next is the important part.
12 years later the man gets a letter in the mail from Princeton, New Jersey. He doesn’t think anything about it. The next day his wife asks him if he’s going to open the letter.
He opens it. It turns out the SAT board periodically reviews their test-taking procedures and policies. He was 1 of 13 people sent the wrong SAT score. His actual score was 740. Half of the score he thought he got.
He said, “People think that 1480 changed my life. What really changed my life was acting like a 1480.” He started asking, “What does a 1480 do?” “A 1480 goes to class.”
I’ve been thinking about this story a lot lately because the words you speak to yourself are powerful.
I’m about 20 years removed from taking my SAT test, but I did recently take a COVID-19 test.
These are real thoughts that went through my head as I took this test...
I feel outstanding going into this test...but what if the test told me I was positive for COVID-19, would I then start to act as if I were sick and not feel well? Will I make myself sick worrying over the test results in the two days it takes them to return them? Then what if I worry myself sick, but then got a negative test, do I need a retest to check again for COVID-19? What if I could have gotten it from the people that distributed the test?
It sounds ridiculous, but the “what if” game goes on infinitely if you let it.
And for the record, I’ve felt outstanding all week. Never got sick. Never made myself sick... luckily.
If you play the “what if” game it means you’re human. I don’t say I haven’t been sick so I can brag. I want to point out it’s been work. It’s been work to fight off normal negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
What do you have to lose by “acting as if” in the positive sense? What do you lose by telling yourself there’s a happy ending to all of this?
The man in Trevor’s story lost nothing by acting like a 1480, except for maybe a few losers he shouldn’t have been friends with. He gained a wildly successful life.
The upside of positivity far outweighs the safety net we think negativity provides us.
A few of our coaches posted to social media with positive messages of getting through COVID-19 and feeling better, and yet some people couldn’t resist bringing in the negativity.
The negative people will defend it as realism, and I already defended it as a mechanism of being human. But again I ask, what do we have to lose by changing our language closer to positivity?
This isn’t Pollyanna and nothing is ever wrong or will go wrong. It’s simply downplaying the negative and emphasizing the positive.
We don’t do this to make ourselves look better in the eyes of others, we do this to make ourselves ACTUALLY BETTER.
We do this to attract more positivity and build positive momentum to the things we really seek.
Say you will. Know you can. Go do the things healthy and fit people do.