After a mental breakdown cost Lanny Bassham the Gold Medal for International Rifle Shooting in the 1972 Olympics, leaving him with the Silver, he sought answers. What was it about the Gold Medalists’ mental game that set them apart?

At the Service Roundtable’s recent Las Vegas Roundtable, Lanny shared what he discovered, what helped him win a Gold Medal in the 1976 Olympic Games, reign at the top of his sport for six years, set four world records, and help scores of other professional athletes in all sports, sales people, and business leaders. These principles can help you, your company, and your team, perform better.

The Mental Game Matters

Lanny, who coaches a number of top PGA golfers, notes that the top 20 golfers on the PGA earn more than the remaining 380. He says to forget the 80/20 rule. Ninety-five percent of the winning is done by five percent of the participants. What sets them apart? It’s the mental game. In sports and business, the mental game is the difference maker.

Interview golfers and they will tell you that the game is 90% mental. Yet most fail to develop their mental game. Among HVAC contractors, even fewer work on the mental game. How about you? What do you do to develop your mental game? Do you associate with winning contractors? Do you continue to learn and grow by reading magazines and books, attending seminars and conferences, and participating in trade associations and alliances?

Focus on the Positive

One of the biggest breaks in Lanny’s life came when his high school dropped shooting as a sport because Lanny’s father took over as his coach. His father had a different approach than most coaches and managers. Instead of telling him what he did wrong, his father would say, “Here’s what you can do better.”

This focus on the positive is critical. According to Lanny, “We live in a world that’s charged with more negative than positive. The world’s more interested in beating you up than building you up.”

This is why you can ask someone how he did after a performance, be it sports, sales, or stage, and he will likely describe what he did wrong. Focusing on the negative imprints the subconscious mind and shrinks a person’s self-image. Instead, focus on the positive, which builds self-image, confidence, and performance.

Do you ask your technicians and salespeople what went well after a call? Do you ask how they think they can improve? Do you frame the discussion on the positive?

Passion is God-Given

Lanny says he can’t explain why he was the first to the shooting range in college in the morning and the last to leave at night. He never thought of how many hours he *had* to practice, but how many hours he *got* to practice. Find people who are passionate about their work and they will never need to be coaxed to perform. Do you look for people who are passionate about the trade? About service?

Skill is Learned

Skill, says Lanny, comes from applied knowledge the repetition of practice until it becomes subconscious. When skill is attained, focus on the process. Execute well and the correct outcome will follow. Does your team practice? Do you role play?

Adversity Leads to Opportunity

According to Lanny, all adversity contains opportunity, but it’s up to you to find it. In Lanny’s case, losing the Gold Medal led him to seek out Gold Medal winners and develop the mental management system that he turned into business and lifetime calling. Everything that happens in your life is preparation for something else.

The current economy is tough on everyone, but harshest on the weak. If your company is strong and if you are aggressive, you will come out ahead in a weak economy.

Are you looking for opportunity in this economy? Are you aggressive and investing in your company and market while your competitors are pulling back?

Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable and author of the book, The Power of Positive Pricing. For more information, call toll free 877.262.3341.