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Mental Toughness Habits of Ultra Performers with Ben Newman – Episode 207 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

action catalyst podcast ben newman

Ben Newman is a Best-Selling Author, International Speaker and highly regarded Performance Coach whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, business executives, high performing and professional athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, PGA, WNBA as well as the NCAA. Ben’s most recent book, “Leave YOUR Legacy” was ranked by CEO READ as a Top 25 business book of 2015!

Recently, Ben joined Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney to kickoff Jon Gordon’s Power of Positive Summit that included Tony Robbins, Michael Hyatt, Lewis Howes, Tamika Catchings, Andy Andrews and other great speakers from around the world. Ben also serves as the Performance Coach for the record setting 5-straight Division I National Football Champion North Dakota State Bison.

Known for his ability to inspire and motivate with actionable steps, Ben has presented to numerous FORTUNE 500 companies and other notable organizations, including Great West Life-Canada, the United States Army, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Quicken Loans, Cintas, Northwestern Mutual, the University of Iowa, Boston Medical Center, Australian Gold, NAIFA, AFA Singapore, MARS Snack Foods, the Minnesota Vikings and more –– helping their leaders grow and develop successful national sales teams for years. His corporate speaking events have included financial firms, religious groups, health care groups, charitable organizations, national sales organizations, sports teams, and communication companies.

Ben’s authentic, powerful, and engaging presentations have become nationally recognized. Ben has shared the stage with Jerry Rice, Ray Lewis, Tony Dungy, Colin Powell, Brian Tracy, Ken Blanchard, Jon Gordon, Dr. Jason Selk, Floyd Little, Aeneas Williams, Tony LaRussa, Walt Jocketty, Tom Hegna and other leaders and legends in the world.

Ben lives in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri with the true measure of his success, his wife, Ami, and their children, J. Isaac and Kennedy Rose.

Show Highlights:

When we get knocked down that’s how we find out what we’re made of. @continuedfight

Focus on what it looks like for you to be your best. @continuedfight

You’re not worrying about the last one and you’re not worrying about the next one. @continuedfight

How can you not give 100% when it’s 100% your choice? @JerryRice

When is the last time you broke down your game film? @continuedfight

You have to have self-evaluation. @rory_vaden

It’s not about beating others, it’s about beating your potential. @rory_vaden

The team must come first. @rory_vaden

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with a team. – African Proverb

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

The 3 Most Common Mistakes in Career Planning Decision Making


There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to deciding what our next career move is going to be.

Things like:

How much money will I make?

Will my job be safe and steady?

Is there opportunity for advancement?

Over the years I’ve begun to notice a theme and difference in those who end up both happy and successful and those who only get one or neither of the two.

The surprise?

It comes down strictly to how they evaluate their initial decision.

Most people’s top priority for determining their next career move typically includes things like: job security, money, opportunity for advancement and what skills will I learn.

It’s easy to understand why most people use those as their key criteria because they are somewhat black and white, logical, objective, measurable and therefore simpler to evaluate. Unfortunately, while those criteria aren’t “bad” necessarily, they typically are insignificant contributors to our joy and satisfaction in the long term.

So how do the happy, fulfilled and extraordinarily successful people make their decision differently?

They consider and ultimately let their deciding factors be things that are more intrinsic, human, emotional and admittedly obscure.

  1. Satisfaction over Security – For example, they would be more likely to value the enjoyment of the daily work over something like job security. Ultra performers always trust themselves rather than others for their sense of stability because they know that if they’re always willing to work hard then they’ll never have a hard time finding good work. And so they will default much more to caring about how enjoyable their daily work will be and how much it aligns with their natural skill sets and long term passions rather than just considering if they’ll get to keep their job. When it comes down to it, they will choose satisfaction over security every time.

  2. Purpose over Profit – They also will consider the impact they are making in the world much more valuable than the money they will potentially make. Because they know that while there are lots of ways to make money – and that if you get good enough at virtually anything you will make a lot of money – they know that dedicating 1/3 of their breathing life to doing something that makes a difference in the world will create much more sustainable meaning in their life than will money. If forced to choose between the two, a happy person will choose making a difference over making a dollar.

  3. People over Opportunity – Finally, and most important of all, people who become ultimately successful and happy seem to make a calculation that most people overlook entirely. Ultra performers weigh who they will be working with as much more valuable than what they will be doing or how it might advance their career. They know that the people they surround themselves with has a much stronger shaping effect on the success of their life than do their career checkpoints. They are always much more concerned with who they are becoming than they are with how their resume looks. Thus, their single biggest criteria and consideration is evaluating the other team members they will be around. And not just the top level leaders they might have access to, but who are the people they will actually be working with side by side on a daily basis. While it is their #1 deciding criteria, most interviewees never even ask about or know a single person they will end up working with on a daily basis. Meanwhile, Ultra performers always choose people over opportunity.

The biggest irony of all of this is that when you make a career decision based on satisfaction over security, purpose over profit, and people over opportunity, is that those people end up being the ones who make all the money, build all the influence and security, and end up with the biggest opportunities for advancement!

First who.

Then why.

Then what.

And let money be last as a bi-product of the others.

Choose wisely.

How to Turn Around Underperformance


Measuring results cannot be the only way you measure success.

Because by the time results show up, you’ve already missed your chance to influence the outcome.

Results are important but when it comes to using them as a tool to manage our business they are late.

They are lagging indicators.

They are looking in the review mirror.

Ultra Performers know that results are a byproduct of activity.

And while you can influence results, you often don’t have control over results. You don’t have control over who buys from you, changes in the market, or what your competition does.

What you do have control over though is yourself. You have control over your own activities.

And you have control over them each day.

If you want to start changing a corporate culture, turning around an underperforming team, or saving an organization in steep decline, don’t look at the results.

Instead look at and measure the daily activities.

Activity is a leading indicator.

It’s a predictor of success.

Activity is the cause of the results.

And you can monitor activities instantly.

Buts most companies don’t. Most companies look at results at some interval (which you should do) but they miss out on looking daily at the activity.

Changing the daily activities is how you turn a person, an organization, or a mission around.

Change today’s activities and you will change tomorrow’s results.

The Secret to Success

Secret to Success

People spend time wondering what the secret to success is.

They look around for it.

They ask about it.

They try to find it.

And yet they still so often miss it.

They miss it because they are looking for something unique.

They miss it because they are expecting something big.

They miss it because they want it to be something different.

What they miss is this…

Ultra-performers go hard every day. 

Not only on some days.

Not only on days they feel good.

Not only on days they feel rested.

Not only on days where they are caught up.

Not only on days when they feel inspired.

Ultra-Performers play hard every day. 

Every single day.

They don’t accept excuses.

They don’t look for secrets.

Because they consider it inconceivable to do anything else.

They don’t know anything else.

They don’t want anything else.

They have simply made it a habit to go hard all day every day.

Do you?

Nobody Cares How Hard You Work

No One Cares How Hard You Work

You go around telling everybody about how hard you work.


Nobody cares.

The question is not, “How hard do you work?”

The question is, “Do you produce quality work?”

Honestly, the rest of us don’t care how hard you work or don’t work. And my guess is that your clients also don’t care if you work hard.

What we care about is that you do quality work.

We care that you do good work.

We care that the work you did actually works to get the job done.

We also do care that your work came in on time.

On budget.

And that you deliver (or even better, over-deliver) on what you said you would do.

But we don’t really care how much time you spent on it.

You either spent enough time doing it or you didn’t.

But that isn’t what we ultimately care about.

We care about the result you produced.

So are you producing quality work?

And are you delivering it on time?

Or are you delivering partially complete work that other people have to come in and finish?

Are you cutting corners to shave off time?

Are you delivering work that is weak and shows lack of effort?

Are you doing the least amount of work possible to just get something done?

Or are you dragging out the delivery of your work because you aren’t putting in the work it takes to deliver on what you promised when you promised it?

Ultra-performers don’t do those types of things.

Ultra-performers know that at the end of the day their job is to produce quality results for their colleagues and their clients.

In fact, most ultra-performers look to be incentivized based upon the results that they deliver.

They don’t want to be paid just for their time.

They want to be paid based on their results.

They have the self-confidence and the desire to be held accountable for the results that they produce.

Sometimes producing great work takes more time than you thought.

Sometimes it takes less time than you thought.

But that is irrespective of the only goal that really matters:

Producing quality work.

The Self Esteem Trap

The self esteem trap

Results are important, but you are not your results.

And there is a great risk in attaching your self esteem to your results.

The risk is that if you allow your self esteem to be determined by the results you are experiencing, then it will always be volatile as it fluctuates with the inevitable ups and downs of life.

It becomes a self esteem trap because when results are coming in, you feel great about yourself. But when they are not, you feel terrible.

Ultras performers don’t want that. They are much more interested in consistency. And they have the perspective of knowing there are good days and challenging days.

Instead of allowing their confidence to ebb and flow, they have developed a different strategy than most people.

They put their self esteem into their work habits rather than their production.

They derive their confidence from focusing on things they can control rather than the things they can’t.

Results in most walks of life are things that we can influence, but they often aren’t things that are fully in our control.

It’s not solely in our control as to who wins and who loses, who buys and who doesn’t, how certain things are valued, or the exact financial balance that is left at the end.

You don’t want to have extreme highs and lows. You want steady, consistent, positive direction.

In addition to volatility, the other weakness of having self esteem tied to results is it causes us to under perform.

Because when results are poor we often feel undeservedly bad. And it affects the confidence by which we work and thereby lowers the effectiveness of our work and the likelihood we will produce positive results.

Similarly, when results are pouring in and we are “winning” we also need to be careful about feeling uncharacteristically proud of ourselves. Positive results can be a source of complacency for someone who has their self esteem tied to their performance. Not to mention that sometimes results come in by way of luck, circumstance, or positive changes in the market rather than by way of our own efforts.

The best baseline then is to put your self esteem into your work habits rather than your results.

You want to be a person who lays it all out on the line every day.

You do your dead level best regardless of whether or not the results are coming in.

You are consistently and dogmatically focused on doing what you know how to do and controlling what you can control.

You know that the challenging days are just a part of the journey to great performance and that the great days are fleeting and that they both come and go.

But you have faith, and trust, and confidence that if you do your best, and you focus on simply putting in the work over and over each day, then over time you will win.