Why You Should Think Like Russell Wilson

After a career of mentally prepping athletes for success on the field, Trevor Moawad has teamed up with Seattle Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson to create Limitless Minds, a Seattle-based consulting firm that aims to retrain business leaders to act like nimble-minded, star athletes. 

Photo by Daniel Mob

Few could argue against the talent of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. But at least one man would argue that it’s not Wilson’s talent that makes him such a formidable opponent and among the most celebrated players in the NFL. Talent only gets you so far, argues mental conditioning coach Trevor Moawad.

Moawad has been watching Wilson play for a decade or more, before he was picked up in the third-round draft for the Seahawks in May 2012.  Moawad got to know Wilson professionally when he was training for the NFL draft at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, which Moawad calls the “Hogwarts for athletes,” and Moawad helped Wilson prepare mentally for success.

“Any leader who’s going to be able to sustain success for a long period of time has to have an elite ability to lead themselves,” Moawad said. “Emotions and feelings don’t determine success, it’s your behavior that determines success.”

In other words, Wilson is engaged, and his teammates talk about his sense of professionalism for the game, his enthusiasm, his competitive nature, and his desire to win. Over the years, Moawad has helped refine Wilson’s thinking so he reacts to situations with neutral thinking and a “do simple better” approach to daily life. More on that in a minute.

Together, the pair realized the ideals Wilson has learned to become a better player aren’t being taught in the business community, so they partnered with Division 1 athlete and biotech titan Harry Wilson and award-winning pharmaceutical sales leader DJ Eidson to create Limitless Minds. The Seattle-based start-up launched in October 2018 and aims to sharpen the minds of Northwest business leaders by taking them through the mental conditioning Wilson used to make him the highest paid player in the NFL. 

We spoke with Moawad recently, so he could explain the high points of the mindsets he aims to teach. Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity. 

Employ the Neutral Mindset

Instead of thinking positively or negatively, it’s better to have a neutral mindset. When an event happens, distill the emotion out of it, and simply look at the facts, which can help you determine the best path forward. 

Photo by Daniel Mogg

“Neutral thinking is behavior-based thinking focused on the truth without judgment and without bias. Positive thinking, for many people, implies something bad didn’t happen, when they know it did. Negative thinking — because it’s seven times more powerful than positive thinking — automatically bleeds into your next series of events. Neutral thinking respects the good or bad for what it is, but it also recognizes that what happens next hasn’t happened yet. 

“Fundamentally, if I’m winning or losing, if I’m succeeding or failing, I can always behave a certain way. … I was raised to focus on behavior. Every night I’d go to bed thinking: I take setbacks as temporary and bounce back quickly. That’s not a positive statement; that’s not a negative statement; that’s a behavior.”

Do Simple Better

In other words, understand the daily steps you need to take to be successful at your job, and adjust your life in small ways to do so. 

“We believe that having a (foundational) understanding of what you need to do to succeed is going to be critical. For (Wilson), it’s playing with elite balance: His physiological balance is important. His fundamentals, going back to the basics, are really important — his arm placement, his leg movement, all those different elements. Being engaged, sitting in the front row. He calls it KTN (Keep Taking Notes). All these things are elemental. What time he goes to bed. How often he eats. The meals he eats. The level of proteins. How he stresses. How he recovers. All of those elements are micro percentages that allow his performance to get to where it needs to be. Success is when you do simple savagely well. Success never happens in the complicated. That’s where your talent takes over. Your talent takes over in the complicated moment. But your success is driven by doing simple better. 

“(Conversely,) If I work for Amazon, and I manage supply chain, then I have a very clear objective every day, and my ability to achieve that objection starts with my awareness of what that objective is. A) Do I have it written down? B) Do I know what good looks like? C) Do I have the skillset to complete it? D) Am I doing the things that are going to give me the best chance to complete it? Basically, I’m understanding my role, executing my role, and simplifying it.”

Use Your Fears to Your Advantage

Don’t discount your fears or anxieties. Use them to feed your desire to succeed and drive you in the direction of success. 

“To pretend you don’t fear something is to not give a challenge its due respect, or to give an opponent its due respect. But you also have the ability, by facing your fears, to put a plan together to overcome it. Everybody gets nervous. The best athletes in the world as they’re getting ready to go play in a national championship (are nervous), but a great athlete is a combination of great behaviors. Yes, they have some aptitudes, but where they differ from other people is their willingness to do the things that are going to allow them to succeed. 

“At Limitless Minds, we believe our behaviors are our No. 1 competitor, and we believe that the No. 1 competitor to our behaviors is the concept of choice. We think that choice fundamentally is an illusion. If you want to be good, you don’t have a lot of choices.”

And Lastly, 

Courtesy Limitless Minds

“Have a real good understanding of what the right behaviors are in your job. Be able to measure yourself on a scale of one to five — one being a weakness and five being a strength. If there are five behaviors that are important, you’d like to think that on a scale of one to five, you were somewhere above 16 or 17 out of 25 in those behaviors. A great athlete who’s been great for a long time can tell you exactly what it takes to make them great. They don’t always do it. But they know what it looks like.” 

is an assistant editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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