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How to Win

Rickey Henderson’s Self-Talk

Teammates love to tell stories of Rickey Henderson, a superstar character who is to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame today in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Henderson, for instance, once neglected to cash a $1 million check. Instead, he had it framed.

But one incident makes perfect sense. It came one day after he struck out. On his way back to the dugout, Henderson was overheard to say, “Don’t worry, Rickey, you’re still the best.”

Think about that. “Don’t worry, Rickey, you’re still the best.”

Even in moments of defeat, Henderson found a way to remind himself of what he had to offer. This is the kind of affirmation that has been used by champions both in and out of sports.

For instance, legendary salesman Bill Porter would repeat one sentence every time a customer slammed a door in his face. “The next person will say yes.” The next person often did.

And world-class golfer Phil Mickelson managed to survive the highs and lows of a Masters Sunday by repeating just four words: “Today is my day.” He turned out to be right. Mickelson won the tournament, his first victory in a major.

What words do you say to yourself in moments of rejection and defeat? For many people, a single error is enough to set off negative self-talk. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can chose the words you say to yourself, just as you can chose the words you say to another person. But will you be as understanding to yourself as you would be to another?


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