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 mentality

The Toxic Mentality

I have bad days, I get down.

I lose belief and I’ll feel like I am not good enough. I also have days where I do well, but for many reasons, I just didn’t perform up to my own standards.

I don’t like feeling like this way, so what occurs when I get like this however is I develop the toxic “at least” mentality.

“AT LEAST” I ran today, “AT LEAST” I am not as slow as that person, “AT LEAST” I showed up, “AT LEAST” we played well.

What I am really saying to myself is “at least” I am not a loser… But, I am also saying, I am not a winner…The “at least” mental state is dangerous and systemic. Once it enters our vocabulary either within ourselves or our team, it can easily seep into our core beliefs.

The “at least” attitude means we chose to make an excuse. 

Settling was okay. Mediocre wasn’t all that bad.

Going through the motions became an option. We chose to live inside the comfort zone. I basically valued my self worth as a “maybe” rather than a “yes.”

The toughest part of winning is the will to prepare.  Committing  to everything that is needed to win, means developing a winner’s mindset as opposed to an “at least” mind-set.  We must instill the belief that we deserve what we are going to achieve because of our preparation, because at no point did we settle.

However, what lacks is the belief…We develop an “at least” mentality because we wanted, we just weren’t willing… We weren’t really willing to sacrifice, willing to develop the needed focus, or willing to work on our weaknesses. We looked around us and said “I’m not all that bad.” Preparation and motivation involves the belief in oneself and that our goal or vision can be reached! Setbacks, adversity, and struggle are going to happen, but it is how we overcome these obstacles.

The bottom line is that losing happens way more than winning ever does. There is always a runner-up finish, a 2nd place team, and second best in show. The question must be asked,  is “at least” mental state an acceptable option for you?


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- 50 Ways to Win: pro Football’s Hinge Moments  

Three ways to improve your teams motivation. 

Most coaches, executives, and owners want their team to be more self-driven and internally motivated. However, the measures that leaders employ are usually all externally driven. We often refer to outside measures to help facilitate change, namely rewards for good results or punishments for poor effort or outcomes.

If you are searching for more internal drive from your team, here are three metrics to examine. 

A-   Autonomy- People need to feel empowered in their position, that they can make decisions on their own and have a voice in their development.

R-  Relatedness- People want to feel a part of the team, that what they do matters, and they are contributing to something larger than themselves.

C-   Competence- People want to know that they are good at what they do. We do activities and perform tasks in which we are competent.  Confidence breeds success.

If a team is lacking in mental toughness and motivation, perhaps one of these principles is off.  For example, a person may feel he/she can make decisions (High A) and is good at it (High C) but not part of a team or recognized for their effort (Low R).

Here are three ways to improve the internal motivation.

A-  Autonomy- Have individual 1-1 meetings and regular check-ins with your team. Ask for and get their input about what is working and what needs changed.

R-  Relatedness- Have functions or competitions. Internal competitions are good; it can build the strength of a team and hanging out with one another enhances the camaraderie.

C-  Competence- Studies have shown that individuals will meet the expectations set forth by their coaches. In turn, positive feedback for effort increases the internal motivation, while negative feedback will decrease one’s motivation.

Sources:  Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268.

Need an assist evaluating which of these qualities most applies to your team? Contact us below…

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness