As the title implies, The Confident Mind is a book about confidence. But I think I would more specifically describe The Confident Mind as a book about sports psychology, positive psychology, peak performance, mental training, and mental toughness, with a focus on confidence.

The confident mind by Dr Nate Zinsser book review

I appreciate good books in this genre because I believe that mental training is a key element to achieving success in every avenue of life and probably the one lacking the most when people are struggling in their quest for health, fitness, and weight control.

I’m not sure how I first heard about The Confident Mind. I think it was simply an Amazon suggestion, probably because the Author Dr. Nate Zinsser worked with professor of psychology Dr. Bob Rotella at the University of Virginia. Rotella’s book, “How Champions Think” is one I bought on Amazon, reviewed and recommended previously.

Zinsser is a performance psychologist. His expertise is not only in sports psychology, having coached Olympians, NHL stars, NCAA champions, and the likes of Eli Manning through two Superbowl victories, but also in military mental toughness. He is the director of the performance psychology program at West Point.

One of the things I like about this book is that while Zinsser is an academic with a PhD in psychology and he backs up his methods with science, he doesn’t bog the text down with drawn-out descriptions of studies and research. Instead, his tone comes across more like a coach, and he shares a lot of anecdotes to illustrate the principles.

This book is very practical. After a short preface, in the introduction, he lays some groundwork. He debunks common misconceptions about confidence and explains what he believes confidence is.

A lot of people say confidence is “believing in yourself” or “knowing you can do something.” I don’t think there is anything wrong with these definitions, but Zinsser says there is a better way to define confidence. He says confidence is “A sense of certainty about your ability, which allows you to bypass conscious thought and execute unconsciously.”

I believe this is a good definition because another topic worthy of deep study is the power of habit, and that’s what good habits are too – performing well, or executing constructive behaviors, automatically.

He also tells us early in the book that confidence is not just genetics, it’s a skill you can learn. That’s the purpose of this book, to teach you specific, practical techniques to be confident.

After the introductory material, he dives right in to giving practical advice. He includes many exercises that would benefit every reader to stop and do before continuing to read. He describes many of these exercises as a way to “make deposits in your mental bank account.”

For example, in chapter two he suggests searching your past experience for successes and writing down a list of your top ten, including a photo. You put it on a wall where you will see it often and be reminded of your accomplishments. This might sound like a vision board, but it’s more like a list, looking back at past success to reinforce your confidence.

Of course, as you might expect, in a later chapter he does explain how to envision your future in ways that will build confidence and put more positive deposits in your mental training bank. In addition, he spends a chapter on constructive thinking in the present. That’s three ways to program your mind for success and increase confidence: Constructive thinking about the past, about the future and in the present.

A key idea that Zinsser explains and refers to through the whole book is “the first victory.” In the opening pages using a story about former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, he explained:

Long before Eli and his team had beaten Tom Brady’s undefeated and heavily favored Patriots, Eli was asked if he thought he was in the same class as Brady. He said yes and took a lot of flak in the media for it because his performance in the previous season didn’t reflect his assertion. Eli had the league high in interceptions while Brady was coming off an excellent season with 36 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. Eli then went on to lead the Giants to victory in Super Bowl 42.

Zinsser said that at the time Manning claimed he was in the same class as Brady he had already won the first victory. That is the victory in the mind. He defined it as the conviction that he was good enough to play at a high level on any field against any opponent. The display quote at the beginning of the book reflected this notion:

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” Sun Tzu, the Art Of War.”

He further explains the concept later in the book that your thinking has a huge influence on your performance. What you put into your mind shapes your mood and in turn shapes your physical state and actions. Essentially you win in your mind first by having a confident mind.

The advice is in this book is based on current science and psychology, yet it’s also full of classic personal development principles. As he says in chapter three, “Perhaps there’s truth to the old saying, people become what they think about after all.” That line is credited to the late great Earl Nightingale who literally started the entire personal development and audio learning industry with his gold record The Strangest Secret.

Zinsser’s book doesn’t repeat these kinds of sayings like platitudes, and the book is in no way about “just think positive” even though constructive thinking is a big piece of it. He expands on this idea that you become what you think about, and goes into detail about how specifically to think and what to think to become successful.

Another personal development principle he talks about is visualization. Zinsser chose to call it envisioning. Others have called it mental rehearsal, mental imagery or the “Theater of the mind.” Whatever you call it, it’s the same classic technique that has stood the test of time as a crucial mental training strategy.

He also emphasizes the importance of self-talk and affirmation. He gets very specific and explains exactly what peak performers say to themselves. He goes even beyond affirmations, which might be only a single sentence or even a mantra of only a few words, and also talks about motivational scripting, a powerful technique that few people use, but could benefit from greatly.

I think The Confident Mind is right up there among the best mental training and peak performance books. If you’re well read in this genre, a lot of the concepts may be familiar and some of it might feel like review for you, but I think Zinsser has brought a considerable amount of new insights to and fresh takes on old topics in this area. I highly recommend this one. I’m surprised it’s not a lot more reviewed, rated, and talked about.

You can Get This Book At Amazon:

– Tom Venuto,
Author, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle
Founder, Burn The Fat Inner Circle,
All-Natural, No-BS Body Transformation

tomvenuto-blogAbout Tom Venuto
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilding and fat loss expert. He is also a recipe creator specializing in fat-burning, muscle-building cooking. Tom is a former competitive bodybuilder and today works as a full-time fitness coach, writer, blogger, and author. In his spare time, he is an avid outdoor enthusiast and backpacker. His book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle is an international bestseller, first as an ebook and now as a hardcover and audiobook. The Body Fat Solution, Tom’s book about emotional eating and long-term weight maintenance, was an Oprah Magazine and Men’s Fitness Magazine pick. Tom is also the founder of Burn The Fat Inner Circle – a fitness support community with over 52,000 members worldwide since 2006. Click here for membership details

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