The Confident Mind with Dr. Nate Zinsser, Director, Performance Psychology Program, United States Military Academy

Dr. Nate Zinsser is an expert in the psychology of human performance who consults to individuals and organizations seeking a competitive edge. Dr. Zinsser has been at the forefront of applied sport psychology for over thirty years. Dr Zinsser’s latest book, The Confident Mind: A Battle-Tested Guide for Unshakable Performance, was released in January 2022.

Dr. Zinsser has been a regular consultant to the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Giants for twelve seasons and a keynote speaker for companies such as General Electric, Facebook, McDonald’s, and Staples.

Since 1992, Dr. Zinsser has directed a cutting edge applied sport psychology program at the United States Military Academy’s Center for Enhanced Performance, personally conducting over seventeen thousand individual training sessions and seven hundred team training sessions for cadets seeking the mental edge for athletic, academic, and military performance. Dr. Zinsser has a PhD in sport psychology from the University of Virginia.

In this episode, Nate and Cindra talk about:

  • The 5 misconceptions of confidence
  • The difference between the success cycle and the sewer cycle
  • 7 limiting beliefs and the “First Victory Alternative Belief” we should adopt instead
  • How to be your “best and most honest friend”



TO FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT Dr. Z: Nate Zinsser – The Confident Mind


Love the show? Rate and review the show for Cindra to mention you on the next episode:

“Instead of playing to avoid mistakes, play to win. Play all out.” -Nate Zinsser @Mentally_Strong
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“…what we have to accept is that your state of mind, your sense of certainty, is a choice.” -Nate Zinsser @Mentally_Strong
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Cindra Kamphoff: Welcome to the High Performance Mindset, Dr. Z. Thank you so much for joining us today. I can’t wait to talk to you about your new book, The Confident Mind. So, pumped to have you here today.

Nate Zinsser: Pumped to be with you. This is a great opportunity; I’ve been looking forward to it.

Cindra Kamphoff: Thank you so much. Well, let’s get started, and just tell us a little bit about what you’re passionate about right now, and where you’ve been spending your time.

Nate Zinsser: Well, I’m passionate right now about following through with so many of the positive responses I’ve gotten to my book. I started an alphabetical list of the different kinds of athletes and performance situations. So, everything from archery and axe throwing to water polo and wrestling, with pretty much every letter in between. So, I’m working on keeping my keep contacts going. I’m working on an online curriculum based on the book that’s a project in the works. So that you know, even though I’m an old man of 68, there’s plenty of work to be done.

Cindra Kamphoff: Plenty of work. Well, your book, The Confident Mind: a battle tested guide to unshakable performance, came out about a year and a half ago so or over 40,000 copies, and is in several different languages. So, it just shows you… the power of confidence and the need for people to continue to grow and cultivate their confidence. So maybe just get us started and tell us, how would you define what confidence is?

Nate Zinsser: Sure, sure. My definition of confidence differs from what you might find in a dictionary. I wanted to give people the definition that was functional and workable, and that they could actually sort of practice.

Cindra Kamphoff: Okay.

Nate Zinsser: And that definition reads as follows, confidence is a sense of certainty about any given ability… that allows you to execute more or less unconsciously, a sense of certainty about… basically, a comfort level that you know something or that you can do something so well that you don’t have to think about it as you’re doing it. You can be relatively unconscious the way you are when you tie your shoes, which is a very complicated activity regarding many muscles, many nerves, many joints. and yet it’s something that we can do quite automatically. If you know… if you have the opportunity to go out to a restaurant, order a bottle of wine and the experienced, confident waiter or waitress, or sommelier will be able to recite to you all the specials while unconsciously uncorking the wine, which is again a complicated activity. So, whatever our sport, our passion, our line of work is, we develop the skill, and we developed a certainty in the skill.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.

Nate Zinsser: Those two processes are somewhat different. But they’re both essential to the actual human performance process and really to the expression of what it is that we’re capable of.

Cindra Kamphoff: It’s interesting because I coach a lot of different types of people, one on one, some athletes, pro-athletes, some executive salespeople… and Dr. Z, one of the things I noticed is that it’s almost like the higher people get in their career, the more experience they have, the more they’ll talk about their confidence and how it can decrease, or things can shake their confidence. So is that also what you see? And tell us a little bit about just the journey of continuing to keep that confidence high.

Nate Zinsser: You make a really interesting point that people who worked for a long time and actually improve their competence, their skill level… their confidence doesn’t often improve in parallel. Which is, ironic when you really think about it.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yes.

Nate Zinsser: If I’m getting better at my tennis, serve measured by the clock and my coach. Well, then, I should feel better and better and better about it myself. But what happens with so many people is… they don’t develop the habit of looking for their improvements, of acknowledging their progress, of really owning the… I guess you could say the positives in their world. What they do instead is differentially and selectively focus on their negatives, their losses, they’re misses… and if those, if that is what is uppermost in your mind. Well, then, that sense of certainty that we’re talking about as a definition of confidence is not going to happen, so you can have tremendous experience in your field of study or in your sport… but if what you think about when you think about yourself in that sport or in that profession, are your setbacks, your disappointments, your losses… if that is what your default emotional setting is, you certainly will not move much in the way of confidence.

Cindra Kamphoff: So, what would you… let’s see… what advice would you give? To people who are maybe… their competence is high, but their confidence doesn’t equal their competence.

Nate Zinsser: Well, I think gotta change the way you think about yourself, ladies and gentlemen, right?

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, right.

Nate Zinsser: You’ve got to acknowledge that… okay. First of all, I have a choice in what I want to think about. I have a choice in which aspects of my life I’m going to pay the most attention to. I have a choice in how I’m going to react emotionally to the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows, the wins and the losses… I have a choice in how I’m going to think about myself, and I’ve got to choose to hang on to the memories… to hang on, to the stories… to hang on to visions of the future, that result in a little enthusiasm and optimism and energy for myself, I’ve got to make that choice. Okay, I can have a heck of a lot of experience… but if I am not selective in how I think about my experience, then my experience isn’t necessarily going to build up that sense of certainty. As a matter of fact, if I think about my experience the wrong way, my sense of certainty is going to move in the opposite direction.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, can you give us an example of somebody that you’ve worked with that was really careful about how they understood their past experience, and how they allowed it to maybe grow their confidence instead of maybe what might be automatic for us is to beat ourselves up or think about all the things that went wrong?

Nate Zinsser: What comes to mind quickly is my experience working with a CEO of a company that’s based out in California, you know, big consumer products company and when I encouraged him to do a daily exercise. A daily reflective exercise, where you look at where you worked hard, what little successes you had, what progress you seem to be making, just a reflection on your day… he found that to be absolutely paradigm busting because he had always grown up, as many of us have, being encouraged to think about where you messed up every day.

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.

Nate Zinsser: Think about where you messed up. Think about what you got wrong. That’s going to motivate you to be better tomorrow… and when I encouraged him to look at effort, success, and progress, I called it ESP. He found that to be completely revelatory, and he took it a step further. Because he’s in the business world, he’s concerned with earnings per share. So, he looked at effort that I put in that is creating progress that is building success… he turned ESP into EPS, earnings per share, effort, progress, success. That’s just one short little example of somebody taking this process, and personalizing it… and feeling that it’s literally changed the way they work in the day-to-day world.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah. Yeah, and so what I’m hearing is just this intentional decision to grow your confidence. And I used to think Dr. Z, even when I was growing up, especially when I was competing in track and cross country, that the harder I was on myself the more I beat myself up, the more I thought it would motivate me, right? Now, looking back, I realize having some self-compassion, you know…

Nate Zinsser: Yeah, might have actually helped.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, could’ve grown my confidence instead of just continue to make it 0…  you know. And so, I’d like in you in the book, you talk about the bank account idea, and you talk about how we can filter our past successes as deposits. Say a little bit more about that, and how that could really help us grow confidence.

Nate Zinsser: Okay, a bank account is where you keep your money… and the amount of money that you have in your bank account depends on how much you put in and how much you take out. It’s a running total, it’s a never-ending, you know, it’s an always changing, some, depending on the activity in your account. I look at confidence… I look at that sense of certainty, as a psychological equivalent to a bank account. Okay, that sense of certainty is subject to how we think about ourselves. So, I can reflect upon progress and small successes… I can also reflect upon losses and disappointments… and depending on how much of each of those I indulge in, my psychological bank account is going to change accordingly. So, if I’m preoccupied with okay. I’m making progress in this aspect of my work… I got this little success right today, and boy, did I put in effort. Overcoming some procrastination, emptying my inbox, or really pushing through that final set on the front squat in the weight room today. Those memories, those thoughts, are all little tiny deposits that build up my certainty about myself. Conversely, if I’m thinking about, ‘God, I really let this down. I didn’t get this done.’ That is going to lower my sense of certainty. I will hasten to add that there is a time and a place for looking yourself in the mirror and saying, ‘Boy. I got it right or, boy, I didn’t get it right. I messed up. Wow! I’ve got to be a little tighter about this part of my life or that part of my training. I’ve got to be better prepared for these kinds of situations.’ But when… you can do that in a way that makes you think – now I’ll get better. The overall emotional tone of that has to be overall, optimistic, overall, constructive. So how you criticize yourself, and when you criticize yourself are two important variables. Now, if I’m about to enter a competition, that’s not the time to be self-critical. That’s not the time to be telling yourself, ‘I should have run more intervals. I should have done more hot and cold contrast bathing. I should have done this.’ No, the time for that is maybe the day after the race when you’re looking at yourself… and that’s when your self-criticism can be functional. But as it… as the timeframe approaches your next performance, you need to be more constructive, more your own best friend, more your biggest fan, so that you walk into the operating room, walk onto the playing field, walk onto the tennis court for your next competition… acting… feeling pretty darn bad ass.

Cindra Kamphoff: I love it, I love it. And I appreciate what you said about that self-criticism is functional.

Nate Zinsser: Yeah.

Cindra Kamphoff: Because if you’re keeping more of like an optimistic tone, I think to myself like, well, what could I learn? And try to think about it objectively… and so many times I take it to heart, and I think like… Zig Ziggler has a great quote and something like “Failure as an event, not a person”, you know, and sometimes I think about the ways I’ve beat myself up over things that didn’t go perfect. And I take it really, personally that you know, I feel like I’m the failure instead of just something that I did.

Nate Zinsser: Very important to take the emotion out of that, okay.

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.

Nate Zinsser: I was just explaining to a junior golfer client of mine that emotion is very much like glue. The emotion that you have about a memory, is going to make it stick into that mental bank account. It’s like, it’s like an added bonus… if I’m really upset with myself over a loss, that memory of the loss is likely to stick. If I can think about, ‘Oh, a mistake. I made a correction that I need to make.’ And I can just sort of think of it sort of matter of factly, like, ‘oh, yeah, okay, that’s something’ as opposed to, ‘oh, you stupid fool! How could you have done that? What was the matter with you?’ If you can separate out the emotion, then the negative memory doesn’t stick. And conversely, if you can give yourself the luxury of celebrating your small successes… that’s gonna make that stuff stick in your metal bank account a little longer.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, that’s great. Well, for people who are listening and say, ‘Okay, great Dr. Z. But how do I actually do this?’ What strategies would you share with us? On, on, how do we make this happen so we can continue to build confidence?

Nate Zinsser: Okay, well I think you gotta… if confidence is this ongoing running total of everything that you think, you better be darn careful about how you think, and I break it down into sort of three sections – how you think about your past? How you think about yourself right now? In the moment all those present tense statements and stories that you tell yourself? And the third component is well, how you think about your future – what visions and imaginings do you have about your future? And in each case, past, present, future, you gotta be selective and you gotta be careful. So, looking at the memories, well, why not look back on your past history of your career or your sport? Look back, and maybe tease out some memories that fill you with a sense of satisfaction. My first win or my promotion to a certain level, or my championship here… everybody’s got some successes in their past. Put them on a piece of paper, post them somewhere where you see them.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.

Nate Zinsser: Maybe even attach a cool photo to it just some way of actually mining the treasures of your own past. Okay, we do that for long-term memories. And then, as I said before, conduct a daily review of the day’s memories – where’d I put in good effort? What did I get right? Where does it look like I’m making progress? E for effort, S for success, P for progress. Alright? So those are two things… two ways of mining and getting the best out of our past… long term past with the big list, I call it the top 10, short term past, today’s past – what happened today last few hours? The last 8 hours with the ESP? Then we go on to being very careful about the stories we tell ourselves in the present. Being really careful… I am this, I am good at that, I do this well. Let’s be careful about all the things that we say to ourselves, about ourselves, in the present I’m not good… at differential calculus. I’m not good at math… hence my statistics course is going to be a real bear. Okay?

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, sure.

Nate Zinsser: Or you know, I don’t have a strong finishing kick in my 800 meter event. Okay, you got to be very careful about that, okay? Because when you tell yourself over and over, I’m not good at this, I’m not good at that, I’m not good at this… you’re effectively preventing yourself from ever improving at it. Okay… so my advice is that you take advantage of that self-fulfilling prophecy aspect of human behavior. And you think about what you want as if you already have it. And I know that blows a lot of people’s minds, but think about yours… tell the story about yourself to yourself that you want to have true, okay? My finishing kick blows away the competition. I am indeed capable of X, Y, and Z. Feeding yourself with those statements and stories… we all tell ourselves stories is just a question of whether they are serving as springboards to improvement, or whether they are serving as limitations in holding us back. So that’s how we got to think about our present, then we go into the future. Okay, we all have a wonderful imagination. We all have a great video production studio between our ears – what are the scenes that you’re producing? What are the outcomes that you see for tomorrow, next week, next month, this season, this quarter, this fiscal year? Are you thinking about what you want? Or are you creating pictures of things that you don’t want? Okay, I think you got to be very careful about that. I would advise like an 80/20 breakdown. 80% of my imaginings are about what I want, 20% of my imaginings are things I got to look out for… and when I think about those 20% things, I make a plan to address them. Okay, yeah, what if this happens? Okay, if this happens, then I do this, then I do that, and then I do this, and now I’m fine. I refer to that as the flat tire drill. You gotta know how to change the flat tire… moms and dads listening to this, do not let the kid drive the car out of the driveway, until they have practiced changing a flat tire. Because they do not want to have the first experience of a flat tire in the dark, in the rain, on some strange road. They want to know where the jack is where the spare is what the procedure is, so they can get back on the road quick.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yes.

Nate Zinsser: And we have to think about our future performances and outcomes 80%, yeah, this is how it’s going to be, and 20%, well, if this happens or that happens, I got a plan… and now I can feel me even better about it. So those are three ways that I talk about building confidence Cindra… being selective about how you think about your past, being selective about how you think about your future, being selective about how you think about yourself in the present. Past, present, future.

Cindra Kamphoff: So powerful, I know, is people are listening. They took something really important out of the last, like 5 minutes, everything you just said. I was thinking about an Olympic athlete I worked with who participated at the Tokyo Olympics, and you think that someone who had been to the Olympics would be really confident… but she was struggling with some of her training, and just hadn’t experienced a lot of early success that season. And so, one thing that we talked about is… she got a big whiteboard, and she just started putting up, similar to what you just said, is like all these examples of tiny successes that might have been a great workout… it might have been some images of past successes, you know her Olympics before, and she put it in her kitchen. And so, every day she would be making food or go to her kitchen, she would see it as tangible evidence. And it helped her a lot, because the reason I want to point that out is… just because that, even as someone that is really successful can lack confidence sometimes.

Nate Zinsser: And the higher you go in your performance world, and for athletes… it doesn’t get much higher than the Olympics.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yes.

Nate Zinsser: The less there is going to be a difference between technical… physical, technical, and tactical skill levels between you and your opponent. At the at the high school level there’s a big… there’s a big spread of talent. There’s a big spread of technical skill. You go to the college level that that spread narrows. You go to the Olympic level… that spread is almost nonexistent. Everybody’s talented, everybody has put in a lot of work, everybody has a heck of a lot of success, everybody is technically and tactically skilled. The difference is who’s going to believe in herself the most? Who’s going to be most certain? Who is going to think less about how she’s doing it, and just be focused in the moment in execution? That is very much the determining factor at high levels, like the Olympics.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, so good. There was one part of your book where you talk about 7 limiting beliefs…. and then you call the manual… when you say opposite belief, or the more empowering belief, we could say that. Your first victory alternative belief. Tell us about how you see limiting beliefs impacting confidence, and share with us, you know, some of the limiting beliefs that you think would be important for us to really notice.

Nate Zinsser: It’s an interesting facet of the modern world that we are socialized in certain ways… encouraged to think certain ways, that don’t necessarily facilitate confidence or facilitate the expression of our actual potentials. I mean, as we’ve been talking… many of us, and I think most of your listeners will agree, you know, we’ve been socialized to remember our failures and mistakes because those motivate you to improve yourself. You know we’ve been socialized to always be our own harshest critic… to always be logical, to always look for more knowledge, and more information, and more workout opportunities. We’ve been socialized to think in ways… that basically diminish our mental bank accounts.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.

Nate Zinsser: And they were perhaps passed on to us by well-meaning, but… not particularly knowledgeable individuals, okay? And so, we, as youngsters and young adults, started thinking ineffectively in there… and henceforth we haven’t developed the thinking habits… about your past, and your present, and your future, that can build up the bank account. So, I describe 7 limiting beliefs in the book… and then there’s an alternative for each of them, you know, rather than going back to the start… rather than remembering your failures and mistakes – how about… remember what you want more of. That alters your brain and your body so that you’re more likely to get it, okay? I mean one of the things I keep telling people over and over again. Your body’s going to do what your brain is full of.

Cindra Kamphoff: Hmm, wow.

Nate Zinsser: And that applies both to anybody involved in a physical sport… it also applies to people in white-collared occupations as well. What your brain is full of is what you’re going to end up writing, is what you’re going to end up communicating, because everything we do as human beings, we do in… we are embodied beings, we do it from this physical body, okay? Self-limiting belief number two, always be your own harshest critic. Well, how about being your best and most honest friend? You know? Your best friend will look at you and say, ‘you got a little toothpaste coming out the side of your mouth. Better clean that up.’ Okay? But your best friend is also… gonna say, ‘hey, look you might have made that mistake, but I know you’re better than that. I know you can fix it. Let me know how I can help.’ Okay, your best friend’s gonna say that to you. Are you going to say that to yourself? Are you going to say, are you going to bring yourself that same level of compassion? That’s kind of important, okay? Another limiting belief is about… you know, always being logical, always thinking carefully about what you’re doing, okay? And I think the alternative to that is okay. Use logic for sure, but also use a little creative fantasy… a little creative fantasy, because let’s face it. We wouldn’t… every technological improvement, every breakthrough in the world of sports and human performance, comes out of the blue. Comes from somebody who did not necessarily think conventionally, you know? Great accomplishments… Tiger Woods winning the masters at age 21. Sustaining oneself through a grueling sales campaign… refusing to accept the boundaries. Use a little creative fantasy. I actually… used the term in the book a lot, constructive delusion. Constructive delusion…

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, tell us what that means.

Nate Zinsser: …every invention that we take for granted today, the electric lights that we’re all utilizing, you know, came about because some guy named Thomas Edison had this weird idea of that… I could make a tungsten wire shine, okay? With this weird new stuff called electricity… that was an utter delusion in 1910. But it works… to continue, rather than think, ‘oh, I’ve always got to find new ways, new ways, new ways.’ How about just being really good at a couple of things? How about deciding? I am going to be the best in the world at a couple key ideas, and that seems to be what differentiates champions from the rest of the field. They don’t necessarily do everything better, but they do a couple things better than the rest of the crowd. So, just to conclude, in the interest of time… I think maybe the biggest limiting belief of all, is this idea that the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins. Basically, thou shalt not make mistakes… mistakes are bad. Thou shalt not make mistakes, I would propose a different option to that. Instead of playing to avoid mistakes, play to win. Play all out… play to win. It’s not the team that makes the fewest mistakes necessarily, it’s the team that plays very well between inevitable human episodes of error and imperfection.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, that’s true.

Nate Zinsser: The mistakes happen, we let them go, we play as well as we can in between them. If we go into a game thinking that the team that makes the fewest mistakes is going to win, and then we make one…. it’s so easy to think, ‘oh, we’re in trouble now.’ Well, you’re not in trouble… it’s only 7 minutes into the first quarter.

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.

Nate Zinsser: We got a whole lot of game to play.

Cindra Kamphoff: Then they generalize…

Nate Zinsser: … we still have the rest of the game. So, those are some of the keys, Cindra, in that part of the book.

Cindra Kamphoff: Dr. Z, I also like number five. This one was actually my favorite. When you said that limiting belief is, ‘you better be really good at something before you can become confident about it’. And then the first victory alternative belief ‘is beliefs produce behavior, so confidence comes first’. So, I think people might think, ‘well, how can I really be good at confident public speaking when I’m not really good at it?’ So, tell us a little bit about this idea of beliefs produce behaviors, so confidence comes first.

Nate Zinsser: Well, think about… the limiting belief, okay, I’ve got to be really good at something… before I can actually think that it can work. That always puts you in a state of questioning yourself. Am I good enough? Have I done enough? What else could I have done? That forever questioning brought on by this belief pretty much guarantees that you’ll never be certain about yourself. So, what we… have to accept is that your state of mind, your sense of certainty is a choice. Okay? And you’re making that choice. So, as we move to the alternative for that… the idea that confidence comes first. Your beliefs produce your behavior… without that initial sense of possibility, where is your energy? Where is your drive gonna come from? And I tell the story… a story that just about everybody can relate to is the experience of learning how to ride a bike.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yes.

Nate Zinsser: I have only met one person who said they got on the bicycle without the training wheels, and were good from the first instant. Everybody else says, yep, I fell off, I scraped my knee, I ran into a bush or something… now, here you were, lacking the ability to ride a bicycle. You didn’t have any evidence that you could actually do it. As a matter of fact, you had evidence that you couldn’t… the scraped knee, you know the banged fender on the bike… you had evidence that you could not do this. Yet there was some sense of possibility – you saw some other kid do it… you saw your big brother, big sister, do it… and it was just that incredible opportunity there. Something you had this belief, and that it was what gave you the energy to get back on the bike and give yourself some repetitions, so that eventually your bicycle riding software would upgrade itself, and off you go… and everybody remember what a cool moment it was when you zoom down the driveway, or down the sidewalk, or down the street without the training wheels… and oh, boy, look at me! I’m fast, I’m free. Wow, what a great moment that was! And it all happened because of a belief you had not, because of the necessary ability preceding it.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah. I love it Dr. Z. One of the other things I wanted to ask you a little bit about is earlier in the book. You talk about the difference between the success cycle and the sewer cycle. And I thought that was a really great concept. Tell us a little bit about the success cycle and what that means, and how that is really important for us to understand, related to confidence.

Nate Zinsser: I may be simplifying human behavior a little bit, but I think this is a useful simplification… we again, we start with how we think about a situation. Okay, this is really easy… I’m great… I have all the skills I need… this is a chance for me to make a positive difference… this is a chance for me to improve my GPA or improve my class rank, or improve my statewide ranking in my sport. If I’m thinking that way, I tend to feel emotionally uplifted – I’m loose, I’m confident. As a result of that emotional state, our body follows right along… muscles loosen, blood flow takes place, our field of vision opens up, and we actually create a different biochemical hormone profile. And with our body in that elevated, enhanced state we tend to perform as well as we can. And then we think about how well we’ve performed, so this becomes a cycle, how you think, affects how you feel, affects your physical body, which affects your execution at whatever it is. Again, we are embodied beings, everything we do we do in a physical body. So, we have to be very careful about how we utilize this connection… I refer to the success cycle as… the procedure from constructive thinking – past, present, future, to your emotional state of trust, ease, peace of mind, confidence to an enhanced body – loose muscles, plenty of blood going where it needs to eyes wide open, seeing the field, seeing the situation and good performance. There’s the sewer cycle, and you can be thinking, ‘oh, we’re in trouble. This really stinks have got to get this right, or I am, or dire consequences will happen’. The emotional component of that is fear, doubt, worry… what that does physically to us tightens the muscles, restricts the blood flow, creates stress, hormones (cortisol, etc.)… and naturally, that is going to inhibit our performance. We might be okay, we might even get by, but it won’t be our best possible, and then we think about that. So, all of us as human beings, we sort of bounce from the success cycle to the sewer cycle to the success cycle. We bounce back and forth between these extremes many, many, many times a day… and the question I ask everybody is, well, which one are you on most of the time?

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.

Nate Zinsser: And then which one are you on when it’s time to step into your spotlight, when it’s time for you to enter your arena? Which of those cycles are you on at that moment? Let’s get really good at knowing when we need to be on the right cycle. Let’s practice being on that cycle, and maybe we even want to make it our default. The way we are 80%/85% maybe push 90% of the time… nobody ever does it a 100%, you know, we’re all human. We’re not going to be perfect at this, but we can strive for it.

Cindra Kamphoff: And one of the details, Dr. Z, that I thought was important to add to that is, when you’re talking about the success cycle, you label that conscious thoughts…

Nate Zinsser: Yeah.

Cindra Kamphoff: …and then that leads to unconscious emotions, then that leads to physical state and execution, right, and then it circles back. Tell us why that distinction, distinction of conscious thoughts and unconscious emotions are really important and why that might be helpful for people to know.

Nate Zinsser: Really good question, Cindra, thank you for bringing that up. Okay, conscious thoughts… what you deliberately, intentionally think about. I’m going to think about this – I’m going to recall my best moments, I’m going to recall those compliments, I’m going to recall the work that I did to prepare myself for this moment… that is deliberate. That’s really important, we are all going to be subjected to unintentional, uninvited fears, doubts, and worries. One of the athletes that I have been working with compared those unbidden, uninvited, fierce doubts and worries, as just sort of gusts of wind. They just come, they just come out of nowhere.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.

Nate Zinsser: You didn’t ask for them, they just came… but they don’t determine your reality. It’s what you consciously, intentionally think – that determines how you’re going to experience the world, because it’s that conscious stuff that’s gonna influence your emotional state, hence your body, hence your execution. So differentiating between, okay, here’s what I’m thinking, and here’s why I’m thinking it, and here’s why I’m doing it. I’m in control… I’m consciously, deliberately intentionally doing this versus ‘Oh, man, I just remembered something terrible’, or ‘Oh, man, I’m worried about this and that.’ You didn’t ask for that… you didn’t want that. You didn’t invite that… it was just something random that occurred near you… but you don’t have to stay with it. You can consciously, intentionally, deliberately think about how you want to be, and that drives the process. So many people have not made that distinction… that it is my conscious, deliberate, intentional thought that determines the world I live in. I have control over that… so many of my clients over the years, way before the book was ever written made that connection, and they say, “You know, Dr. Z. I never realized that I had control over my thinking process until you and I started talking about it. I just thought I went with whatever came in.” Maybe you don’t want to go with everything that ever came in.

Cindra Kamphoff: I don’t think you do, I don’t think anyone does.

Nate Zinsser: Right? Okay… so, let’s start from that proposition. I’m in control of my thoughts. When I control my thoughts, I control my mood. When I control my mood, I influence my body. When I influence my body, I put myself in a chance to perform. Well, let’s accept that as just the mind-body connection. We’ve all heard that. Let’s accept that as the mind-body connection operationalized and choose to utilize it, instead of letting it utilize us… as sort of passive victims. Let’s be active participants in our world.

Cindra Kamphoff: Awesome. Dr. Z, there’s so many powerful things that you talked about today that I know really hit home with people. I’m gonna do my best to summarize. So, we talked about how confidence in your opinion is the sense of certainty that allows you to execute unconsciously. We talked about how competence doesn’t always improve confidence, and that we can really choose how we’re thinking of self-criticism… like you talk about functional self-criticism and being more optimistic, and I think also being really intentional with when we’re gonna think about our performance, not right before and being critical of it, or right after, and being really intentional about that, you talked about how emotion is like glue, and that we can think about growing our confidence by how we think about our past, ourselves right now, and then about our future. At the end we talked about the flat tire drill, and you talked about how your body will do what your brain is full of… and being your best honest friend. Woah, we talked about a lot today. Dr. Z, how can people find your book, The Confident Mind, and tell us where they can connect with you if they’d like to.

Nate Zinsser: Okay, the book is available on all of the online platforms – Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, etc. People can communicate with me… it’s very simple –

Cindra Kamphoff: Perfect.

Nate Zinsser: I get at least 5 requests a week for more information about my consulting services for the construction of custom audio products that serves to summarize… it’s a big world, there is lots of work to be done, there are a lot of people who are looking to make the best out of their limited time on this planet. I would be delighted to interact with more of your listeners.

Cindra Kamphoff: Awesome, wonderful. Well, thank you so much. Congratulations on your success of the book, The Confident Mind, and thanks for bringing it here today, and just providing us so much value and wisdom, so we appreciate you.

Nate Zinsser: Thank you so much, Cindra, for the opportunity. My best wishes to you and all your listeners.

Cindra Kamphoff: Thank you. Congratulations on just the huge impact you’ve made on the field. This has really been outstanding.