Tuesday 4th July

Developing Your Amazing Winning Brain

Change your thoughts and you change your world

Norman Vincent Peale


Our brain controls our every function and everything we do starts with a thought. Yet most of us don’t learn how to manage our thinking – we just pick up things along the way. I was certainly like this until I faced some big life changes. A combination of divorce, wanting to be the best parent I could be – empowering and enabling my children – and a very demanding role in local government led to me becoming very sick with ‘stress’. I started to explore what I could do to improve my wellbeing, and ensure I maintained it.

Part of the answer was to take a huge, scary leap out of a well-paid stable job into the world of self-employment (with two young children some thought this was fool-hardy rather than brave). I did this because I found myself in a role that had taken me too far away from my purpose. I wanted to pursue my passion of enabling people of all ages to realise their potential, to develop those characteristics that make the real difference in all areas of our wellbeing but are not taught in the normal education curriculum. In this personal and professional maelstrom, I started to learn more about the brain and how we can take more control of our thinking – to consistently think more positively, believe in ourselves, manage stress, manage tricky situations in professional and personal relationships, achieve our goals – be confident and comfortable being ourselves – only better!  

Developing our toolkit to use the power of our mind to more consistently think in a way that positively helps us is an essential foundation in my equipped2succeed framework and programmes. Develop Your Amazing Winning Brain is about reflecting on how to more effectively manage your thinking – positively taking control, rather than allowing some of your thinking to limit you.

So, what do I mean by, ‘Develop Your Amazing Winning Brain’?

Let’s break it down:

develop:  to bring out the capabilities or possibilities of; bring to a more advanced or effective state;

your: uniquely belonging to you – your thoughts, your attitudes, your actions;

amazing: causing wonder by using the limitless potential and power we have within us;

winning: the act of a person who chooses their future and wins the life they choose;

brain: the organ inside the head that controls and co-ordinates all mental and physical actions; thought, memory, feelings, and activity.


Just take a moment to reflect on all the work you’ve done on your thinking over the years.

How has your thinking developed?

If you’re like most of us, it’s happened in quite an ad hoc way by ‘osmosis’ – picking things up from our personal experiences, people we’ve met and read about, and our educational, community and professional environments.


It’s all in our mind – from our beliefs and values to how to ride a bike.

So how do we use our thinking to help us improve in all areas of life?

6 things things to consider:

1.   Learn More - Give Yourself Greater Insight

Learn some brain and mind basics - about how the most powerful computer you will ever know, your brain, works.

I have put together some of the essential elements of the research that underpins my training workshops and books in a new book that’s out soon, ‘Developing Your Amazing Winning Brain’. If you want to do your own reading and research, here are a few books that have informed my thinking:

          The Private Life of the Brain – Susan Greenfield

          The Power of Your Subconscious Mind – Dr Joseph Murphy

          Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

Bounce: The Myth of Talent and The Power of Practice – Matthew Syed

More Than a Pink Cadillac: Mary Kay Ash 9 Leadership Keys To Success – Jim Underwood

The Chimp Paradox - The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness. – Dr Steve Peters

Brain Rules – 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school – John Medina

2.   Input – Output

Quality begins on the inside... and then works its way out.

Bob Moawad

Manage your memory bank and pull out stuff that helps you.

If you dwell on the negative you add to its power.

If you dwell on the positive you add to its power.

It’s your choice whether you dwell on the positive or negative.

It’s your choice who to listen to, what TV programmes to watch and what you read.

Are you watching soaps full of doom and gloom and melodrama that reinforce all the negative sides of life or are you reading about success stories and learning from inspirational people?

Are you listening to negative people who know what’s wrong with everything but are short on solutions, or are you surrounding yourself with positive, empowering people?

3.    CHOOSE your thoughts

We can choose our thoughts, just the same way we choose our clothes in the morning. It takes some work to choose thoughts that empower and enable us but it’s worth the effort. It takes practise to filter out negative thinking habits that hold us back and choose thoughts that contribute to our wellbeing and achieving our goals – to replace:

I can’t with I can

I’m just like that with I can change

They are just dreams with My goals are  

There is a limit to what I can achieve with I can achieve what I choose

This is beyond me with I believe

4.   We Attract What We Think About

         Feed the right stuff to your R.A.S.

Our brain wants to help us get what we want and the reticular activating system (R.A.S.) helps us spot the things we think about – our goals. There are millions of pieces of information and potential stimuli around us all the time and the RAS is the brain’s way of helping us to focus on those things that are important to us. It helps us to spot the things we think about so we start to attract or see whatever we’re focusing on (whether that’s positive or negative!).

This means that we can programme our thoughts – every day – by focusing on what we want to achieve.

It is therefore important that we focus on the things we positively want to achieve rather than negative distractions: what we want rather than what we don’t want.

I want a yellow car – I start spotting them – especially if I have a wacky, humorous image in my head reinforcing the goal.

5.   Overcome the paralysis of FEAR

           False Expectations Appearing Real

             THINK                                           Feel                                       Experience

             there is                                         fearful                                  symptoms of fear

          something wrong                           and anxious                               and anxiety                    

The brain doesn’t tend to recognise the difference between a real or an imaginary threat, e.g. running an imaginary argument or challenge over in our mind causes stress, the sight of an exam paper or large bill can cause stress, and we all know what happens when two angry people in ‘reptilian' ‘fight’ mode clash! An illogical rant that gets us nowhere is more likely than a calm discussion that moves us forward. In this mode, we don’t find solutions.

One: we need to recognise times when we do ‘go reptilian’ (let our survival instinct take over and unnecessarily go into Fight, Flight, Freeze or Flock mode).

Two: train our mind to view things differently, and minimise the negative mental and physical effects of worry, fear, pressure and stress.

The bottom line is that we’re going to be frightened on occasions. If we want to improve our wellbeing and perform at our best when it matters we need to be prepared to feel scared, acknowledge it and ignore it, or deal with it.

In her book Daring Greatly: ‘How The Courage To Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent And Lead’, Brené Brown talks about, instead of letting fear stop you, expect it to be there. Acknowledge it and, ‘Say, ‘I see you, I hear you, but I’ll do this anyway’.’ She goes on to say,

It feels dangerous to show up, but it’s not as terrifying as thinking, at the end of our lives,

‘What if I had shown up? What would have been different?’’

One of the things that can help overcome fear is gradually expanding our comfort zone – one step at a time. Think of a few things that scare you or will certainly challenge you and start to tick them off. Accomplishing one thing that challenges you will expand the whole of your comfort and you find yourself ready to take on the big stuff.  e.g. Going to a new place, calling someone and asking for a meeting, doing a scary physical challenge such as a parachute jump or playing someone at sport you know is better than you.

6.   Use Your Brainpower to Re-wire

The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.

William James

Our brain is the seat of all our learning, formal education and experiential learning, how to walk, talk and write, and all our positive and negative learned beliefs, habits behavours and thinking. We can grow and change throughout our lives – ditch the stuff that holds us back and develop the and thinking that takes us forward, help us to improve and make us happier.

The recognition and study of neuroplasticity has proved beyond doubt that we can use the power of the brain to improve everything in our lives: from health, mental wellbeing and quality of life to financial wellbeing, from being not quite good enough to being elite in our field, take us from C’s to A*’s, from struggling with relationships to managing relationships better, from being anxious in certain circumstances to overcoming fear and performing at our best. We can systematically use Relaxation – Visualisation and Mental Rehearsal to perform better:

  • learn new things and improve skills (such as driving on ‘the wrong side of the road’ when planning to hire a car in a country where they drive on the opposite side – we can only practice safely in our heads!).
  • improve our ability to perform well each day;
  • develop our capacity to T.C.U.P. - Think Clearly Under Pressure -perform well when being at our best matters most  
  • improve our ability to manage personal and professional relationships;
  • create positive habits;
  • using the power of our imagination and creative thinking;
  • build our focus and discipline;
  • developi our winning mentality.


Relaxation – Visualisation – Mental Rehearsal –  R - V - MR - The Process

Find a summary of this process and guided R – V – MR in the equipped2succeed Learning Tools on

You can download music and a guided R-V-MR track, especially designed to help you establish your own process. The music has been especially commissioned to help our brains make the right connections.

Life is a mirror and will reflect back to

the thinker what s/he thinks into it.

Ernest Holmes

To learn more, look out for my latest book,

Develop Your Amazing Winning Brain’

out in August

or come to an interactive, practical workshop

 Details of latest workshops on

equipped2succeed Facebook Page



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Beverley Burton - interview about her book, 'How Can We Equip Our Children to Succeed?'