The Power of Neutral Thinking

Let’s face it.
We’re stuck in the midst of a pandemic, and the light at the end of the tunnel is still but a glimmer. No breaking news there.
So how do we navigate these unprecedented times, especially when the messages coming at us left and right often add undue confusion, uncertainty, and even fear to a challenging situation which at times can border on overwhelming?
How do we strike the balance between staying in the moment and planning for the day somewhere down the road when this health crisis is behind us?
And how do we make sense of this experience that’s affected the lives of – no hyperbole here – every single person on the planet?
Though they might not have all the answers – hey, who does? – Harry Wilson, Collegiate class of 2001, and his colleagues at Limitless Minds have some ideas they think might help.
One afternoon recently, Wilson, one of four co-founders and the president of the organization, and Trevor Moawad, also a co-founder, the CEO, and a renowned mental conditioning expert presented a webinar to share thoughts, suggestions, and reflections with the Collegiate Family.
D.J. Eidson, another co-founder and the COO, moderated the Q&A portion of the hour-long presentation. The fourth co-founder and chairman, by the way, is Wilson’s brother Russell, a ‘07 Collegiate graduate and quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks who has worked closely with Moawad throughout his ultra-successful career in the National Football League.
“Limitless Minds,” Harry Wilson told the 125-plus who tuned in, “is a peak performance leadership consulting company focused on increasing adversity tolerance for individuals and organizations.”
If there were ever a time in which we could use such counsel, it’s now.
“The difference between those who win consistently and those who are elite and stay elite (and those who don’t),” he added, “is adversity tolerance. It’s mindset. How do they leverage that toward handling adversity? That’s why we built this business.”
Their message is the power of neutral thinking.
“Neutral thinking is the belief that the past is real,” said Moawad, who recently published a book entitled It Takes What It Takes. “Positive thinking is always connected to an outcome. Neutral thinking is, hey, you know what, we didn’t have a good quarter, didn’t have a good half, didn’t have a good year, but what happens next is based on what we do, not how we feel about it.”
Moawad, whom Sports Illustrated has referenced as “The World’s Greatest Brain Trainer,” first saw Russell Wilson in action in 2009 when he played for N.C. State and began working with him in earnest in January 2012 shortly after he was drafted by Seattle.
Fast forward to the 2014 Super Bowl when Wilson led the Seahawks to a 43-8 throttling of the Denver Broncos.
“The night before the game,” Harry Wilson recalled, “Russell was watching a highlight film of himself at Collegiate, N.C. State, Wisconsin, his rookie year. I watched him take it all in. There wasn’t a lot of positive jargon. It was him watching the right behavior. It was about behavior, not outcome. At the end, on the screen, was ‘You were made for this.’ It was up there for a tenth of a second. The film’s over. Next day, Super Bowl. Just a shellacking.”
Later, an NFL Films production crew caught Wilson at various stages of his game preparation repeating his “You were made for this” mantra.
“That doesn’t mean he was brought into the Super Bowl to win,” Harry Wilson said. “It meant he’s put all the pieces into place to be ready for this moment.”
Fast forward again to the 2015 Super Bowl and the interception Russell threw at the goal line in the waning seconds enabling the New England Patriots to seal a 28-24 victory.
“I remember going back to the hotel and everybody’s real somber and trying to figure out how Russell’s going to respond,” Harry said. “I looked at my mom and said, ‘I know exactly what he’s going to say. He’s going to say he’s made for this.’
“Sure enough, 20 minutes later, Russell comes in, spends some time with us, then says, ‘Look guys, don’t worry about me. I’m the right person for this to happen to because I’m made for this.’ That’s when I realized the value of mental conditioning, the value of really investing in your own language: how you communicate with yourself in times of success and times of adversity.”
Moawad presented insights gleaned from his study and prodigious body of work with professional and high-level amateur athletes and teams as well as corporate and military entities.
“The idea of mental conditioning, life coaching, executive coaching, peak performance education, sports psychology, broadly, are related under the belief that we can maximize the human affect, that they can make the mind stronger,” Moawad said. When Russell said, ‘You were made for this,’ he was advertising to himself the understanding of the science of the mind that his thoughts are 10 times more powerful than other people’s thoughts over him.
“When you look at the data, it’s hard to prove that being more positive yields a positive result. The data’s very anecdotal. We do know that negative thinking decreases creativity by 18 percent, decision making by 30 percent, and frequency of errors by almost 50 percent.
“How is negative thinking carried? It’s carried through language. And negativity is a multiple four to seven times more powerful than positivity. If people can learn how to be less negative, they never need to be more positive. We never teach positive thinking because it’s connected to outcome. And negative thinking isn’t a good place to stay because it projects into your future, so we ultimately hit on neutral.”
So how can neutral thinking help the public cope with the COVID-19 crisis especially when it’s regularly bombarded with ominous statistics and conflicting information, often with political overtones?
By determining the truth, without judgment, blocking out the negative, and controlling output.
“No. 1,” Moawad said, “be really mindful about how you’re talking about your life right now because your words are predictive. If you have doubts and fear, that’s very natural. Even in the best of times, that’s natural, so really…watch your language.
“No. 2, identify (the factors that) you think will allow you to be good in a time like now: how to be good in a Zoom meeting, how to listen better, how to take notes, how to balance your day so you get time with you family.
“No. 3, what are four or five things you could not do right now that could help you? Things you could not eat. Things you could not watch. Things you could not say. Sometimes, what we don’t do is the biggest game-changer in our life.
“And maybe go back to the lessons you learned at Collegiate that helped you navigate the trials and tribulations of high school. Make sure you’re adhering to those now, no matter where you are in your journey.”