Mindset Part 2: The Power of Perspective and Mastering Your Perception

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In the realm of human psychology, the power of perception stands as a cornerstone of personal development and resilience... and, ultimately… taking MASSIVE ACTION. At Fittest, we recognize the profound impact that mindset and perception have on individual well-being and success. Drawing inspiration from ancient philosophical wisdom, particularly Stoicism, a philosophy of action founded by men of action, we embark on a journey to explore the transformative potential of mastering one's perception. This is part 2 of our comprehensive mindset guide (find Part 1 HERE), delving into the principles of Stoicism, real-life examples from legendary sports figures, and actionable steps to cultivate a disciplined mindset.

Understanding the Dichotomy of Control:

Central to Stoicism is the concept of the dichotomy of control, a foundational principle that forms the bedrock of mental resilience. This principle urges individuals to discern between factors within their control and those outside their sphere of influence. In the words of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, "Some things are within our power, while others are not." This distinction is crucial, as it allows individuals to direct their focus and energy toward what they can actively change or influence, rather than expending futile efforts on circumstances beyond their control. This is the principle we see in the “serenity prayer” that addicts and alcoholics recite at the end of 12 step meetings, but it does not have to be exclusive to those who’ve struggled in that way. It’s an essential to anyone looking to master factions of life, time in particular. If you want to pursue and achieve excellence in anything, it must begin with discerning what is important or actionable. Otherwise, how could you possibly know how to spend your time? 

This is particularly prevalent today, with people getting caught up in cable news, arguing with strangers on social media about things neither they OR the strangers have any control over. Gossip, politics, sports trade deadlines, how often the cameras pan to a football player’s pop-star girlfriend… These are things that the collective is WASTING their lives on. Think about it like this: Every hour we dedicate to something is 4% of the day. If we remove sleeping, eating, sitting on the toilet, bathing, and other non-negotiable activities of daily living, it’s much closer to 7 or 8 percent. If you spent 7 or 8 percent of your life on anything, you’d be better at that thing than 99.9% of the world at that thing. If we apply the 3-4 hours most Americans spend in front of the tv and on the phone to literally anything else, we’d be an unstoppable force at our chosen pursuits. Seneca said, and I’m paraphrasing, that life isn’t short. It’s just that we waste a lot of it. That is more relevant today than ever with all of the mindless distractions, the vast majority of which are things that are not in the scope of what we can control. 

Embracing Resilience and Equanimity:

By internalizing the dichotomy of control, individuals cultivate resilience and equanimity in the face of adversity. Legendary sports figures exemplify this principle through their unwavering composure and mental fortitude in high-pressure situations. Take, for instance, Tom Brady, the renowned quarterback known for his unparalleled success in the NFL. Throughout his illustrious career, Brady has faced numerous setbacks and challenges, yet his ability to maintain focus and resilience under pressure has been a hallmark of his success. Julian Edelman, a driven, undersized, overachiever himself, tells a story about one of Brady’s legendary game winning drives that exemplifies the very concept we’re talking about. Down less than a touchdown and more than a field goal with time ticking down, Brady comes to the huddle and tells his nervous teammates that “we’ve already lost.” He tells them that what has already happened is behind them. He tells them that if they lose, it’s what everyone expects. If they focus, however, on just this moment; just this drive… then they can do something extraordinary and be heroes. He shifted the focus of himself and 10 other guys to what they can control; executing plays the way they had thousands of times in practice… right here, right now. Nothing else. They did that very thing and won. Tom Brady was not an exceptional athlete by the numbers. He was slow. He wasn’t very strong. It was his mindset. He tapped into the superpower that is discernment. He controlled the things he could and will go down in history as the greatest ever to play the game. 

Transcending External Circumstances:

The practice of controlling one's perception empowers individuals to transcend external circumstances and maintain inner peace amidst life's uncertainties. This is exemplified by Eliud Kipchoge, the Kenyan long-distance runner and Olympic champion, who famously broke the two-hour barrier in the marathon. Kipchoge's feat was not only a testament to his physical prowess but also to his unwavering mental resilience. Despite facing grueling conditions and intense physical exertion, Kipchoge maintained a calm and focused mindset, ultimately achieving what many deemed impossible. When asked about whether he’ll win an upcoming race or break a record, he always smiles a gentle smile and calmly says in a tone that makes him sound like a wise old sage that regardless of conditions or who he is racing against, that he will run his best on that day. He has become so disciplined over his career that he never stops to even consider what he cannot control. Things like weather or opponents don’t even cross his mind because he knows dedicating time to being concerned about these things is not fruitful and will not further his pursuit of excellence. 

Anecdotes from Other Legendary Sports Figures:

Legendary sports figures offer valuable insights into the power of perception and mindset in a way we can all observe, giving us tangible results in the form of championships, records, and other measurable statistics. 

Consider the renowned basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K. Throughout his storied career, Coach K has emphasized the importance of mental toughness and resilience in achieving success on and off the court. His coaching philosophy revolves around instilling a disciplined mindset in his players, teaching them to approach challenges with unwavering determination and focus. I remember sitting on the floor of the iconic Cameron Indoor Stadium in 1992 with a bunch of other impressionable 12 year old gym rats, hanging on every word of Duke’s NCAA champion coach.He told us that “basketball doesn’t just happen on the court.” Coach K said that basketball is something that we practice basketball at school, at home with our parents, and everywhere else we go. He didn’t mean it in the Pistol Pete, take a basketball to the movie theater, church and everywhere else sense. He meant that we apply the discipline of focus and presence in everything we do; that we do everything with intention. If something is worth doing, then we do it with determination. If something isn’t worth doing, then… don’t do it. I don’t remember what he taught us about basketball that day or any other day. I don’t remember the plays. I don’t remember what shoes I had on. I will always, however, remember that lesson. 

Similarly, Kobe Bryant, the iconic NBA player known for his unparalleled work ethic and dedication to his craft, exemplified the power of mindset in achieving greatness. Bryant's legendary workouts and relentless pursuit of excellence serve as a testament to the transformative power of a disciplined mindset. His famous quote, "The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do," encapsulates his belief in the power of mindset to unlock human potential. Those weren’t just words to Kobe Bryant. They were a lifestyle. A cursory Google search will yield literally hundreds of stories told by teammates, opponents, and other observers of what seemed like an unrelenting focus on being the best. He knew that he had no control over opponents, who his teammates were, or how they performed, but he also knew he had put in the work to throw down 83 points if the circumstances dictated.

Phil Jackson, the legendary basketball coach who led the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers to multiple NBA championships, also espouses the principles of mindset and perception in his coaching philosophy. Jackson's approach to coaching emphasizes mindfulness, resilience, and the power of perspective. By instilling a sense of mindfulness and self-awareness in his players, Jackson empowered them to navigate challenges with grace and composure, ultimately leading to unprecedented success on the court. On the team airplane, Coach Jackson would hand out books he thought his players could benefit from. These books had exactly zero to do with basketball and ranged from books about Jesus to books on Zen Buddhism to writings by the Stoics, but they all have one philosophical commonality: that being hyper-present and focused on what we can control in a particular moment was non-negotiable. 

How do we apply this? 

Actionable Steps to Cultivate a Disciplined Mindset:

Cultivating a disciplined mindset requires intentional practice and dedication. Here are some actionable steps to help individuals master their perception and unlock their full potential:

  • Practice Mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing, and visualization into your daily routine. These practices help cultivate self-awareness and resilience, enabling you to maintain a calm and focused mindset amidst life's challenges. This may sound like a bunch of new age nonsense, but there is a mountain of evidence that strategic breathwork and meditation, along with visualizing outcomes leads to increased alertness, focus, and the ability to stay present in a task for longer periods of time. 

  • Develop a Growth Mindset: Embrace the belief that your abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. Cultivate a growth mindset by focusing on continuous learning and improvement, rather than fixed notions of talent or ability. Remember, Tom Brady and others like Larry Bird defied logic as slow, unathletic, and awkward men and became legends based on this very mindset. In fact, there are hundreds of stories about the legend that is Larry Bird. His focus and psychological warfare in the form of trash talk gave him an advantage that led to him being the most feared player of his era. He once decided he was going to play a game using only his left hand (he’s right handed). He ended the game with 47 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists… These are numbers that would be career-defining for nearly any NBA player with 2 hands. He decided he was going to do something and he did due to one thing: an extraordinary mindset. 

  • Set Meaningful Goals: Define clear and meaningful goals that align with your values and aspirations. Break down these goals into manageable steps and create a plan of action to achieve them. This sense of purpose and direction will fuel your motivation and drive. At The Fittest, we use old-school written planners and have a system that allows us to properly prioritize our tasks, execute on these tasks, and dominate our day. We don’t keep this protocol a secret. Email us and we’ll give it away for free. That said, don’t email us until you have a written planner that has at least 1 full page dedicated to each day, because we’ll tell you to go get one, adding an unnecessary step to the process, which is not a good use of our collective time. Fuel your mastery of time management by doing things in the right order. 

  • Practice Gratitude: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude by reflecting on the positive aspects of your life. Keep a gratitude journal and regularly write down things you are thankful for. This practice fosters a sense of perspective and appreciation, even in the face of challenges. If you feel like you have nothing to be grateful for, understand that somewhere out there is a person whose job it is to taste test Jelly Belly’s vomit-flavored jelly bean in order to perfect the formula… and that person is not you. 

  • Surround Yourself with Positivity: Surround yourself with supportive and positive individuals who uplift and inspire you. Limit exposure to negative influences and cultivate a supportive environment that fosters growth and positivity. People with bad attitudes, argumentative people, gossipers, lazy people, those who focus on the news, fashion, celebrity trends… These are toxic people and will not serve your betterment. Limit your access to these individuals without compromise. Learn to say no.

  • Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity: Shift your perspective on failure and setbacks, viewing them as valuable learning opportunities rather than insurmountable obstacles. Embrace the growth mindset and use setbacks as fuel for personal growth and development. I had a coach who used to say, “You win some and you learn some.” This is especially valuable if you hate losing because it fuels a deep pursuit of learning how to improve so that you become a winner of epic proportions. 


Mastering the art of controlling one's perception is essential for navigating life's challenges with resilience and equanimity. By embracing the principles of Stoicism and learning from the examples of legendary sports figures, individuals can cultivate a disciplined mindset that empowers them to unlock their full potential. At Fittest, we are committed to empowering individuals to cultivate a mindset of resilience and inner peace, enabling them to thrive amidst life's uncertainties and challenges. Through intentional practice and dedication, individuals can harness the transformative power of perception and unlock new levels of personal and professional success, no matter your pursuit, whether it’s athletic prowess, parenting, work, or anything else worth doing well. 

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