John Beck And The Psychology Of Winning

John Beck, the reserve quarterback for the Washington Redskins, is much in the news lately for boastfulJohn Beck
statements made on SiriusXM NFL Radio about his future as the team’s starting quarterback. As if he could say anything else.

Here’s  snippet from a recent NFL.com story:

“I believe I’m a starter in the NFL,” Beck said in a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview Monday.

“I basically say, ‘Screw the awkwardness.’ ‘I’m trying to be the starting quarterback,” he said in the interview. “I’ll call whoever, try to set whatever up. If you don’t think like a starter and act like a starter, your teammates probably aren’t gonna believe you’re the starter. So I’m thinking I’m the starter.”

Beck said he was glad issues developed between Donovan McNabb and the Shanahans, for his opportunity to compete for the starter spot would not have come otherwise.

Reaction to this story falls into two camps. One side has it that Beck is sure the lead the Redskins to a division title. The other side says Beck is wacked.

Let’s cut the guy some slack. Beck is just following the psychology of winning, the self-success concepts espoused by author and motivational speaker Denis Waitley in the 1980s. You can boil Waitley’s principle down to one thought—you become whatever you say you are.

I loved this book, followed its concepts and it was enormously helpful motivation in my career, especially when facing adversity. And, um, there were lots of those. I became good in business when I said I was good in business. Damned it if didn’t work. Ever since then, I’ve recognized the self-talk statements by athletes, like Beck and Terrell Owens, as the fuel that propels achievement.

Your mother taught you that saying those things out loud was impolite and boastful (T.O.: “I love me some me.”). She was wrong. The self-talk is essential to the psychology of winning. Every elite athlete practices it.

Beck just might be Mike Shanahan’s choice as starting quarterback. So, he must say “I believe I’m a starter in the NFL.” Rex Grossman says the same thing.

This whole topic is fueled by Mike Shanahan’s complimentary statements about Beck earlier this month. Shanahan is the best practitioner of coach-speak I’ve ever heard. He’s better at it than Joe Gibbs and Gibbs was very, very good.

Draw your own conclusion. Hog Heaven is on record as saying you cannot tell what Shanahan means from anything that Shanahan says.

Life taught me to never say “never.” As in:

Donovan McNabb will never quarterback the Redskins again.

Mike Shanahan will never sign Vince Young to quarterback the Redskins.

John Beck will never be named the Redskins’ starting quarterback.

As soon as you say “never happen,” it usually does.

Things are going well for Coach Shanny. He has Beck all pumped up without violating any lockout rules. What can we say. The man can motivate!

That Beck – Grossman shootout this preseason is gonna be epic.

Point after: The Psychology Of Winning: Ten Qualities of a Total Winner, by Dr.* Denis Waitley is a great read by the man who wrote The Winner’s Edge and other self-motivation books. I bought my paperback copy (Berkley Books™ ©1979 ISBN: 0-425-09999-7) years ago for the $3.95 cover price. The book is harder to find now than the audio set of six CDs for $59.95.

Waitley wrote that winners practiced ten positive forms of self-direction that leads to success. The relevant principle here is Positive Self-Expectancy. Says Waitley:

“The most readily identifiable quality of a total winner is an overall attitude of personal optimism and enthusiasm. Winners understand the psychosomatic relationship—psyche and soma—mind and body. . .that the body expresses what the mind is concerned with. They know that life is a self-fulfilling prophecy,….”

Or, more famously, “What the mind dwells upon, the body acts upon.”

*I recommend the book, but be aware that Dr. Waitley’s academic credentials are clouded. An investigative reporter found in 2007 that Waitley did not have the master’s degree he claimed. His doctorate in human behavior could not be verified.


Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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