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Who Do You Think You Are? (Oww vs. Wow Mindset)

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Who Do You Think You Are? (Oww vs. Wow Mindset)

Tess Brigham

Have you ever experienced this kind of moment? You’re minding your business, living your life believing you’re one kind of person. Then all of a sudden you realize you’ve been wrong the whole time! You’re not “the kind of person” you thought you were, you’re actually “that” kind of person.

Let me explain.

I always thought of myself as someone who sees the glass half-full. Now I can be negative and cynical at times, but for the most part, I can see the good in complex people and the positive of a tough situation. I’m a therapist and coach for goodness sake! That alone should mean I believe in growth and change.

So I was a taken aback when I realized that I have an Oww Brain Mindset.

Let me explain further.

Last week I was watching a video by Todd Herman. If you don’t know who Todd Herman is, go check him out (finish my blog first and then check him out). Todd is a coach for athletes and billionaire entrepreneurs. So he knows his stuff.

From his years of studying top athletes, he has discovered that people fall into one of two mindsets: an Oww Brain Mindset or a Wow Brain Mindset.

According to Herman, “when someone is engaged in Oww Brain thinking they focus on where they are and how far away they are from their goals, dreams or visions for the future.”

Oww Brain thinkers get excited and motivated about a particular goal or project but as the project gets father along and the tough parts set in, they become overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead. They look at what they’ve accomplished so far and how far away they are from their “ideal results.”

At this point, Oww Brain thinkers become extremely judgmental of their progress, they start to compare themselves to others and then the stress, anxiety and negative self-talk sets in. All this spoils the Oww Brain thinker’s original motivation and creates avoidance, procrastination and wasted time, which gets the Oww Brain thinker farther away from their original goal.

Herman says that for Oww Brain thinkers, change = pain. What ultimately derails an Oww Brain thinker is that even though they may be making progress, they’re constantly measuring their own success by their unfilled goals.

On the flip side are the Wow Brain thinkers. Herman says, “this way of thinking focuses its attention on the thought or idea of constant improvement.” Wow Brain thinkers measure their own success by what they’ve accomplished yesterday versus today. They’re not focused on their competitors. They’re looking at what they’ve already achieved and they ultimately let that feeling drive them towards their goals.

Wow Brain thinkers “win straight from the start” according to Herman, because they are measuring their own success against themselves and what they’ve already accomplished or learned. For Wow Brain thinkers, change = gain. Any forward progress is good.

Little did I know that I had been walking around preaching to my clients and anyone who would listen to be a Wow Brain Thinker. All the while, being a secret Oww Brain Thinker behind closed doors.

I thought that I was being “smart” by engaging in Oww Brain thinking because I believed I was pushing myself to stay on my toes. I thought that I needed to push myself, keep an eye on my ultimate goal and never give myself a break because that’s how people achieve great things. Right?

Well…kinda. People achieve great things because they don’t give up, they keep going even after they’ve fallen down and push themselves past their point of comfort. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re only focusing on what they haven’t achieved vs. what they have achieved.


People achieve great things because they don’t give up, they keep going even after they’ve fallen down and push themselves past their point of comfort.

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That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re only focusing on what they haven’t achieved vs. what they have achieved. 

What Herman is teaching, and what I needed to hear, is that while the road to great success is a long one, we can each decide how we are going to look at it. We can see it as a series of painful events and experiences. We can berate ourselves and beat ourselves up along the way and constantly judge our success against everyone else’s. When we do this we’re telling ourselves that change = pain. If we get ourselves caught in this loop, then we’re making the road very rocky for ourselves.

So what if we decide to no longer focus on the long road ahead? What if we pat ourselves on the back for what we’ve achieved so far and focus on what just a little bit of the road ahead of us. We’re not kidding ourselves. We know that we have a long journey ahead of us, but we’re not getting caught up in what we haven’t done, learned, achieved…we’re focusing on how far we’ve come and what we’re going to do today.

Up until watching this video last week, I had only been focusing about on what I want to get done in 2016. All the goals I want to accomplish, where I want to be a year from now. Not once did I stop and reflect on what I had achieved in 2015.

Here’s what I want you to do right now. Take 10 minutes and think about how far you’ve come this year. Write down all the things you’ve learned and achieved this last year and then do something that may feel a little weird at first, stop and praise yourself for what you have accomplished.

One thing to remember is that no one stuck with having either a Wow Brain or an Oww Brain for the rest of their lives. We also can have a Wow Brain when it comes to our careers and an Ow Brain when it comes to your health and wellness. So you can decide today that you want to adopt a Wow Brain in any aspect of your life.

Here’s my challenge for myself and for all of you Ow Brain Thinkers out there, I hope you decide to join me. My plan is to take 2016 day by day, accomplishment by accomplishment. When I finish something, even if it’s just a small part of a larger project, I’m going to take a moment and feel good about what I’ve done.

If you decide to take the challenge, email me and let me know your progress.

Wishing you and all of your loved ones a happy holiday season and happy new year.

I will talk with you in 2016!