Book Summary: “With Winning In Mind” By Lanny Bassham

Book and preliminary notes in my journal.

With Winning in Mind by Lanny Bassham

A Short Summary, Key Takeaways, and Notes

With Winning in Mind was one of the more motivating and practical books I have read in the past year. The author, Lanny Bassham, was a 1976 Olympic gold-medalist in shooting. Lanny, a self-proclaimed non-athlete with little physicality, found that he could succeed in sports that were predominantly “mental”. Of course, all people who have a mental edge will perform better but the point is he probably wouldn’t have been an Olympic sprinter given his abilities. One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is that the font is big, and the pages are short. For a slow reader like me this gives me the satisfaction of flying through a book. Finally, before diving into key concepts, I got this book after watching this video recap which I found to be insightful around the content that would be found in the book.

Here are the big ideas I plan on implementing from this book:

  1. The understanding that it is a combination of your conscious mind that impacts your subconscious as well as your self-image. All three drive performance.
  2. Rehearsal.
    • Lanny informs the reader that your conscious mind can only focus on one thing at a time. Ideally you focus on positive things, which influences your self-image. Rehearsal is simply running through an event in your mind and putting an emphasis on how you would feel performing your best. Lanny sites a study in the book that shows how rehearsal of an event improves the neural pathways in your brain, put another way – your neural pathways treat an actual practice and a rehearsal in the same way. Both grease the groove.
  3. Mental programs.
    • Lanny takes the reader through a set of stages that can change your state or get you “in the zone” for an event. Since he walks you through the fundamentals it is possible to personalize your mental programs so that you can have one that you run before a speech or before a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match, for example.
  4. Keeping a performance journal.
    • A performance journal is one of the key ways to influence your retention of skill, moving it to subconscious skill. I’ve kept a journal for my fitness for close to 10 years, so it is easy to look back on my progress. However, I haven’t kept a specific performance journal for anything else. A performance journal is a way to solidify deliberate practice by goal setting, analyzing success & solution, and tracking general data. My plan is to implement a performance journal for both work and BJJ.
  5. Using a directive affirmation.
    • Lanny recommends a 21-day directive affirmation personalized to whatever the reader is looking to improve their self-image on. His belief is that once you view yourself as the type of person who can achieve what you are after you then have the option to get there; if you do not view yourself as that type of person you will continue to fall short.

All the above notes were taken from memory as a way to solidify the concepts and retain the information. Below are general notes taken directly from the book.

  • Once you expect to perform well it becomes an option.
  • Before performing well, you need to develop a self-image that it is “like you” to win.
  • During the performance focus on process, not on outcome.
  • Deliberate practice influences subconscious, deliberate thinking influences self-image.
  • Mentally rehearsing a task literally strengthens the neural pathway as if you were practicing.
    • Rehearse the process of performing well and the feeling you get from performing well.
  • Principles of Mental Management ®
    • Your conscious mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time.
      • Take control of what you picture, choosing to think about what you want to create.
    • What you cause yourself or others to picture is crucial. 
      • Give yourself commands in a positive way.
    • The subconscious mind is the source of all mental power.
      • Be so well-trained that all performance is subconsciously driven in competition.
    • The self-image moves towards whatever your conscious mind is picturing.
      • Control what you picture.
    • Self-image and performance are equal. To change your performance, you must first change your self-image.
    • You can change your self-image, therefore changing your performance.
    • The principle of reinforcement: the more we think about, talk about and write about something happening, we improve the probability of that thing happening.
    • The self-image cannot tell what happens and what is vividly rehearsed.
  • There are three phases of a task. All three need to be mentally dialed in: anticipation, action, and reinforcement. Use rehearsal to anticipate a good performance, a mental program to get into action, and positive reinforcement after by focusing on what you do well.
  • Mental programs are broken into three steps: initiation, direction, and focus.
    • Example for BJJ: initiate mental program with a repeatable action (tie belt), set direction by rehearsing performing moves well, focus on task at hand with a short phrase (“go time”).
  • Performance journal should have
    • Goal statement
    • Training log
    • General data
    • Solution analysis
    • Success analysis
  • Writing a directive affirmation:
    • Define goal
    • Set time limit (21 days)
    • List reasons for wanting goal
    • Outline plan to achieve goal.
    • Write a directive affirmation in the present tense using the word “I” summarizing the goal, the reasons, and the plan to get there. Repeat daily.


  1. Great book review, Kevin. I watched the video and ordered the book. Able to apply these maxims immediately. Thanks for sharing. Gene


  2. […] Throughout all of David’s accomplishments he describes different forms of self-talk that either defeated him or lifted him. He shares his practice of “the accountability mirror” which helped him change his self-image from an obese man to a future Navy SEAL, along with the practices he implemented while running 100+ mile races, completing BUD/S, and breaking the single day pull-up record. If this is an area you are interested in, this book would pair nicely with With Winning In Mind. […]


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