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The difference between winners and losers

Rory McIlroy recently became the youngest ever winner of the US Open. When Rory went into his massive lead there were comments everywhere of “Don’t do a McIlroy on it”, suggesting Rory McIlroy would repeat his performance in the US masters a few weeks before. Recently, Conor Niland was all set go through to the second round of Wimbeldon and have a day to remember by playing tennis legend Roger Federer. Disaster struck and Niland lost. So what was the difference between a nearly man and a champion?


Don’t think of a pink elephant!

What just happened, did you read “Don’t think of a pink elephant”? 99% of people reading this would have imagined exactly that. The reason for this is that the brain only processes words in positively stated terms.

Here are some examples:

  • Don’t get stressed – the likely result – you will get stressed
  • Did you ever have an argument that ended with “I said, don’t do that”? The likely result is the person will do exactly what you said not to do
  • Don’t lose, Rory – likely result – the focus for Rory was losing, and that’s precisely what was going through his mind when he lost at the Masters.


Be careful for what you wish for… it might come true.

Just as Rory McIlroy learned to focus on winning instead of losing, we can all learn from our mistakes. Be careful in what you wish for. As I stated before, the brain does not process negative commands. What we say to ourselves can often come through but not in the way we intended. Once we know how the brain works, we can then begin to achieve the results that we want in our lives. The way we talk to ourselves is crucial to achieving our positive goals. All successful people only consider positively stated goals. Success is about learning from mistakes and improving each day. The best thing about mistakes is that they happened in the past, and you can change what you did today to avoid these mistakes in the future.

Success in your personal life and business life really depends on how you talk to yourself. It is hugely powerful. Even by reading this article, you will find that changing your language will produce results to some degree. Here is my challenge to you – next time you find yourself getting frustrated or losing patience, focus on what you are saying to yourself, ask yourself if it is positive, and state how you want to feel and what you want to do.

William Corless is the Managing Director of YellowWood aims to improve business performance and optimise individual potential through NLP, Coaching, Training and Business Solutions. For more information check out