How does one succeed?

I’m talking about success in the broadest possible terms — success in business, in innovation or education, in athletics or the military. What traits do the most successful people in any arena share with one another?

Skill, for one — they have to be able to do what they do well. Training, for another — all of them have put in countless hours learning and preparing for success. Repetition certainly plays a role — the more you do something, the better you become at it. I also believe we get better at what we do if we surround ourselves with talented teammates. The most successful people are part of a successful team.

Something’s missing, though — something beyond mere talent, training and repetition.

And it’s all in your mind.

“We have not managed to connect all of the pieces that come into play when we want to produce good results,” said Lowell Wightman. “I’m talking about the connection between mind and body, our mental conditioning, and our ability to manage our mindset — to prepare for the challenges ahead. So many people from so many different walks of life don’t spend enough time doing that (mental) preparatory work.”

He should know. Wightman has spent the past 30 years studying positive mindsets and how they impact business performance. His partnerships have included some of the biggest names in the business, including Stephen Covey, Deepak Chopra, and Dennis Waitley. Wightman also teaches a “Master Coaching” course at Colorado State University and serves as a mental conditioning coach for CSU’s football team.

In fact, Wightman says business success and athletic performance have more in common that you might think.

“The same psychological and educational theories that are used with athletes can be used with the high-performance needs you have as a public accountant,” he said. “(CPAs are) facing constant change and pressure. In certain moments you’re going to be pushed, and you want to be ready mentally every day to deliver your best results.”

One way we can do that, he said, is simply by breathing — deep, focused, self-regulated breathing.

“Whether you’re running up an incline or lifting weights or going into a big meeting, everyone faces a tough situation every now and then. That’s when you want to make sure your breathing is proper,” Wightman said. “If you can train yourself to breathe properly, you’ll oxygenate tissue better, you’ll have better brain function, and you’ll be sharper. Everybody has to breathe, but we don’t train ourselves to do it in ways that will prepare us for situations where we really need to be our best.”

In a recent phone conversation, Wightman examined other ways in which CPAs can benefit from this type of mental conditioning. Listen to his thoughts in this CPA Spotlight podcast.

Want to learn more?
Wightman has joined the team of Business Learning Institute thought leaders and is producing a BLI program titled, “Mental Conditioning Methods and Strategies for Executive Excellence.” You’ll find details about the program here.

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