The Psychology of Winning

The Psychology of Winning is awesome. Not long ago at the beginning of last summer, I felt inspired one night and decided to order four books on Amazon — and all I paid was about four bucks for each book! (#Winning, am I right?) One of those books was The Psychology of Winning by Dr. Denis Waitley.

At the time, the self-help genre used to sound a bit patronizing to me. Why do I need help? What’s wrong with me? Psychology of Winning? So I’m…a loser? Well, once I moved past that paranoid mindset, I plunged into reading.

While the small wins are nice ($4 books at your doorstep are a pretty sweet deal, thank you Jeff Bezos), The Psychology of Winning talks about the big wins that matter more. Those big wins have nothing to do with material acquisitions. They are characterized by the development of your self-esteem, conquest of inhibitory fears, and a positive attitudinal shift towards your own abilities. I enjoyed learning from the book, and want to share some of its key points below.

Dr. Waitley pillars the book around the following ten essential qualities of a ‘winner’ –

  • Positive self-awareness: Know your beliefs, capabilities, and path for the future irrespective of others’ opinions.
  • Positive self-esteem: Realize your unique strengths and erase jealousy.
  • Positive self-control: Take independent action.
  • Positive self-motivation: Find your internal motivation, remove fear, and learn to love stress.
  • Positive self-expectancy: Expect the best from yourself, others, and life circumstances.
  • Positive self-image: See yourself developing into the best you can be.
  • Positive self-direction: Create a ‘game plan’ for life.
  • Positive self-discipline: Develop positive actions into habits.
  • Positive self-dimension: Appreciate important aspects of life other than yourself, like family and nature.
  • Positive self-projection: Project the image and personality of what you see as a ‘winner.’

Out of the ten, I found positive self-awareness, self-esteem, self-control, and self-motivation to be the most resonant, so I will focus the rest of this post on those four traits.

Positive Self-Awareness

Dr. Waitley reiterates the importance of knowing yourself, and being open-minded in order to know others’ views. While that sounds like an abstract idea, I found two Waitley’s simple exercises to be useful in making sense of that abstraction.

  1. Make a table with two columns — ‘I am good at’ and ‘I need improvement in’ and fill out each column with ten items. Admire each of the ten positive traits that you discover, and create action steps to improve the ten weaknesses. Doing this may seem a little embarrassing or unnecessary, but remember, this is an exercise you do for yourself and nobody else will know about it. Unless you are like me and show people an example of how I completed the exercise.

2. Imagine being your parent or your significant other — how would you describe yourself? The idea of empathy is not new, but the key is describing yourself from another’s point of view. If I was my father, would I like the way I am as a son? If I was my girlfriend, would I like the way I am as a boyfriend? And so on.

Positive Self-Esteem

Waitley’s most salient points can be summarized as follows:

  1. Create your own standards for success, don’t follow others’.
  2. Realize your individual self-worth. People would love to be you.
    Telling yourself something like ‘people would love to be me’ and knowing the reasons why (those 10 positive traits) is not cocky, in my opinion. The key is internalizing this mindset, rather than boasting publicly.

Positive Self-Control

“Winners assume responsibility for things that happen to them, negative and positive. Losers blame it on other forces, and are more likely to be flustered when bad things happen or results don’t come.”


Positive self-motivation

One of the strongest ideas of this section of the book can be articulated by the following excerpt:

“Fear vividly replays haunting memories of failure, pain, disappointment, unpleasantness, and is a dogged reminder that the same experiences are likely to repeat themselves.”

Realize that the fear is just a self-generated illusion. Don’t picture past failures, envision future successes!

P.S. If you liked this post then you’ll like my books as well. You can get them on Amazon.