Six Steps to Becoming a Game Changer!

     In last month’s column I presented differences in the mindset and behaviors of three primary performance groups: caretakers, playmakers and game changers. If you missed that piece, you may wish to find it in the archives, as it will create the perspective that makes the six steps I present here more meaningful.


For a brief summary of caretakers, playmakers, and game changers, consider that: 

  • Caretakers are steady baseliners who do dependable work, but no more than what is required; and, while they may do what you tell them, they don’t initiate or innovate. Since leaders are expected to grow, change, risk, envision, stretch others, and impact them, a caretaker should never be in a leadership position.  
  • Playmakers often have more talent and drive than caretakers. They will occasionally do exceptional things, but lack the consistency that would elevate them to game changer status. A playmaker’s biggest enemy is his own success, which can create complacency. Playmakers are more interested in their own performance than they are in other team members doing their job. As long as they get the spotlight and credit, everyone else is pretty much on their own. With a change in mindset, playmakers are great candidates to become game changers. 
  • Game changers may have the same talent as a playmaker, but their mindset is such that they are unyielding, incessant, and oppressively constant in their daily approach to preparation and execution. They relentlessly attack and continually try to “best their best,” so they can become the best. A playmaker is prone to shortcuts, believing their talent excuses them from basics others have to follow. A game changer may not enjoy the process any more than the playmaker, but follows it nonetheless because he loves what the process can do for him. He craves the result so intensely that setbacks, critics, rejection, and obstacles become largely irrelevant.


     While most people are a blend of the three styles both at work and in life, there is normally one mindset that will dominate and most heavily influence their behaviors. None of the mindsets is a permanent verdict though. A one-time game changer who loses focus and becomes inconsistent can regress, just as a caretaker can get a wakeup call that causes a mindset shift to higher levels. Thus, game changers aren’t born; they are made. And the making happens first and foremost mentally. Without the mental “right stuff,” even immense talent is marginalized or wasted.  In my seminars when I ask attendees what their mindset development routine is—and how much time they intentionally invest in their mindset daily—the blank looks tell a sad story of ignorance and neglect. Most people leave their mindset up for grabs and allow it to be influenced from wrong media, bad news, unproductive people, and conventional thinking. But you can’t feed your mind a steady diet of garbage and expect to shape a game changer’s mindset.


     I’ve developed my own daily mindset routine for the past twenty-five years, and it is intense. It is structured, and runs between 90 and 120 minutes every day—seven days a week. I credit my mental conditioning as a primary contributor for the successes I’ve had: in business; in writing thirteen books and developing hundreds of training programs; with missions work; in the martial arts; and as a father and husband.  You certainly don’t need to spend the time I do; as I mentioned, my routine has developed over three decades and started with roughly ten minutes daily. And while no mindset routine is right for everyone, you can use the following principles to begin to shape or refine your own. These are principles I’ve had the chance to share not only in business, but with college and professional athletes, coaches, and leaders of major non-profits. Following are six steps to build a game changer mindset.


Develop, review, and refine your “why.” 

     Your “why” outlines your most compelling reasons for why you do what you do. If you don’t keep it relevant, you will lose your sense of purpose and find it easier to: drift; lose discipline, consistency, and intensity; and quit when things get tough. Game changers have a why that powers them through setbacks, disappointments, frustrations, and rejection. They have something worth fighting for and they become unrelenting in their daily approach to excellence.

Cleanse your mind daily.

     Your mind can get bombarded with negative, depraved, and outright horrific garbage in media, at the movies, with the music you listen to, and from the people you associate with. In fact, if everything you eat is garbage, then garbage starts to taste normal. You’ve got to renew your mind, reinforce it, and cleanse it with what is: reaffirming, inspirational, educational, and motivational—what builds your faith, rather than what exploits your fears. A scripture passage I learned as a youth that still impacts me in mindset development today is, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And if you’re going to develop the consistency in performance that makes you a game changer, you need to make the transformation process happen daily; because, game changers are developed daily, not in a day.

Avoid wrong influences.

     Sometimes we can best help build and protect our mindset in what we avoid. The list of negatives I listed in the prior point is a good start in this regard. Just ask yourself from time to time, “Is what I’m reading, or watching, or listening to moving me towards my dreams, or creating unhealthy distractions from them?”

Change from “great” to “best.”

     If you want to be “great” at what you do, you will certainly reach a higher level of performance; however, you won’t do the right things consistently enough to become a game changer. Instead, commit to being “the best” at what you do. Think about what “the best” in your field is thinking, doing, reading, and saying daily. Do you do those things? How can you do more of it?

Associate with like-minded people.

     Aspiring game changers aren’t going to learn much by hanging around with caretakers, or by letting playmakers talk them out of working so hard. Even if you can’t find many potential—or actual—game changers in the workplace (they’re few and far between), find them through books, videos, and by seeking a mentor with these traits, behaviors, and results. The proverb is true: to be wise walk with the wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Get off track less often and stay off track for less time.

     Understand that as a human being, even game changers get off track from time to time. After all, they’re far from perfect. But the more aware you become of how a game changer thinks and acts in various situations, the less likely it is you will get off track as often; and, when you do, you won’t stay off track as long. That, my friend, is major mindset progress that supports exponential growth. 

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Comment by DealerELITE on July 30, 2016 at 8:00am
Dave, thank you for sharing. DEALER elite members love your articles and videos
Comment by steven chessin on July 27, 2016 at 12:40pm

There is working harder and there is also working smarter. Doing BOTH is part of the formula for being the best along with having natural talent and coaching too. 


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