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The "Winner Effect" and How It Can Help Our Performance!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #73

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Every morning we ready the paper in our house…yes…a paper that someone delivers to our mailbox. My son and I split the sports section since the comics are in it and I have to wait to read full articles until he is done with both pagers of the “funnies.”

I wonder how many other 9-year-olds read an actual paper at breakfast? Old school up in here 😊!

I mention this because my new favorite quote is from Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert Comic Strip.

Adams goes against common teaching and says “losers have goals. Winners have systems.”

I love it.

For what is a goal without action? I guess they call that a dream??

I am a systems person. I lay out my workout close for the morning, in the same way, every night. I prepare my breakfast, in the same way, every morning. Sound boring yet?

I love this quote, not because I love and feel more comfortable when surrounded by systems. I love it because it is true.

How we think and prepare…the systems we use…affect our performance.

Our bodies have systems, too (obviously), and taking advantage of them can help us improve our performance.

One “system” our amazing body provides helps us benefit from what researchers call the ‘WINNER EFFECT.”

When we experience a victory, whether it is an actual victory or one we visualize, our levels of testosterone rise. Increased levels of testosterone are good for performance.

According to Pawliw – Fry and Weisinger in Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters the Most, these increased levels allow us to perform better under pressure.

We become more confident by increasing our motivation and our tolerance for actions that make us feel anxious and risky.

When we experience a victory, no matter how small, the chance of winning the next opportunity significantly increases!

Have you ever heard of salespeople getting potential buyers to say “yes” to an innocuous question before the real ask? This practice is thought to prime the buyer…getting them to say yes means they are more likely to say “yes” to the big ask.

However, if we consider the Winner Effect, this practice may be as important to the salesman! It may be priming the salesman with that all-important victory boost as he or she feels a sense takes the small win in the moment…and that victory, along with the chemical boosts that it elicits, affects what he or she does next! Cool thought!

Increased testosterone also prompts an increase in dopamine, our “feel good” chemical which aids in our ability to increase our working memory, allowing us to be more flexible and adjust to changes in the game or game plan!

Here is the really cool part of all of this! Researchers agree that we don’t have to wait until we actually win to experience the Winner Effect. Practicing our visualization techniques and mental rehearsals can illicit the boost, too!

So, let’s tie a few mental performance tools together to get this performance boost!

Remember the way back to Tip #50 and “Strike a Pose”? Our POWER POSE helps increase testosterone and decrease cortisol, both important for performing under pressure.

Get into a POWER POSE. Take a victory stance (don’t make me add a picture of my RBI celebration stance from college 😊). Stand tall…hands like Rocky (or me in that college picture)...however, you feel full of power.

Now it’s time to add in your deep breathing (Tips #21, 36, 45, 68). Get that 750ml of blood flowing freely through that big brain of yours.

Next, watch yourself perform under pressure. Include all your senses…every detail you can add.

You are playing your best…in control, focused, confident.

HERE WE…throw in an obstacle. Watch as disaster strikes. A past ball, a missed shot, a bad pass…

In talking to my dad’s heart doctor yesterday, he mentioned that so many people who visualize only choose to see everything going well and then can’t adjust. They become TOO SYSTEMATIC in his observation.

Systems are great (as we already discussed) but throwing in a disaster…an obstacle…a “bleeder” (as we see in all doctor shows on TV) and imagining how that will feel and observing how we are wired to react, can help us recover when it hits the proverbial fan! Taking a moment to see what can go wrong and experiencing the fear and anxiety that comes with it is REAL!

Remember, we have primed ourselves to be able to adjust by increasing our testosterone and dopamine….

SOOOOO…before final disaster strikes, see yourself taking back control and pulling yourself out of the agony of defeat by making the play or saving the day!

See and hear the crowd go wild.

Feel your teammates' joy and energy.

Watch the scoreboard change, the clock stop or the winning possession. Feel the thrill of victory!

Adding in a this contrast...a bit of negative visualization...helps us prepare and problem solve which increases our confidence and our ability to adjust. Instead of being too systematic, we are using a system to increase our flexibility.

We have so many tools at our disposal. All of them seem so simple. They are just common sense.

But common sense is not always common practice.

And to make anything truly effective, we must practice…and practice always runs better with a system 😊!

So consider making this contrasting visualization your system. Watch yourself be great…then let the real world come in and disrupt it…then save the day super performer!

And…don’t forget to use the Winner Effect no matter how small or imagined the victory!

Have a great week!


P.S. I would love to help your team increase its performance. Give me a call or text at 234–206–0946 or send me an email at to set up a team session!

Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946



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