10 Principles Of Mindset

I believe the better we are as a person, the better an athlete we can become. Having horses in our life is a privilege and the more balanced we are emotionally, the more healthy we are mentally and the more we take care of our own health physically the better we can be as a rider for our horse.

So when it comes to sharing with you what I can, my goal is to help you chase excellence. You see perfection is impossible, however if we strive for this, we can reach excellence. I want to help you grab hold of what is possible because the honest truth is the outcomes in our lives are always within our control.

When we take absolute ownership of how we eat, sleep, train and think we will not only optimize our health and happiness but also optimize our riding also. What you do out of the saddle is directly affected in the saddle. The better we are as a person/athlete off the horse, the better we will be as an athlete on the horse.

There are the factors that we put into play that we have control over that can move the needle in terms of our health, wellness and our riding.  They are your nutrition, your training or movement, how you eat, how you sleep and how you think.

Or to put more accurately our DRT System, when we strive for Coalsescencse, we work on our Stamina, Suppleness, Stability and Mindset.

Each of these factors drastically has an impact on our overall health. Many will focus just on the exercise or just on the nutrition, or if you’re lucky both of these. And they are a great start.

However, if you’re not doing these other things or doing just one to the extreme, you could be digging yourself, into even a deeper hole, because now you’re chasing the wrong needle and doing it not specifically targeted towards your goals and overdoing one area while neglecting the others.

The truth is doing one of these things really is a great start and big ups to you, really if you are. Well done, that is more than many. However, you can’t just move one lever if you really want to excel because they are all interconnected.

Everything is connected.

Today I wanted to share with you more about mindset and how this comes to play with excelling in our riding and what you can do to improve yours to help you become a better person and therefore a better athlete and partner for your horse.

We’re going to break it down and look at the 10 principles of mindset.

  • Prioritize first things first
  • Develop a growth mindset
  • Focus only on what you can control
  • Grind through obstacles
  • Own your attention
  • Question your self-limiting beliefs
  • Never whine, complain or make excuses
  • Practice open-mindedness
  • Transform every ‘have to’ into a “get to”
  • Chase excellence


Prioritize first things to be first.

This is essentially based on one of the first books I was suggested to read as a budding personal trainer starting my business back in the day. It’s based around Stephen Covey “Seven habits, highly effective people”.

The first habit of that is to put forth the first things first. It’s so important that he actually pulled that chapter out and wrote a whole other book called “First Things First”.

What this means is that you can work really hard. You could be busting your tail, but really not moving forward.

So the analogy is, we’re climbing the ladders of our careers, chasing our riding goals but those ladders aren’t leaning against the right walls? And we really have to kind of step back and look at why? And work out what’s happening.

The other thing that goes into play here is that Eisenhower matrix.  Which is, urgent versus important things. And it’s so easy to get caught up in these urgent things, which are, I have to pick up the kids from school, answer those emails, pay the bills, do the groceries, make those phone calls. All urgent things and we can have hugely busy days but move nowhere.

Get stuck on the treadmill of busy-ness.

Yes, some and most of these things need to get done. But if you don’t step back and actually look at the things that are truly important in your life and actually ask yourself those questions, you just end up spinning your wheels each and every day.

Sometimes it’s about simply re-ordering your day, and doing the most important things first that move the needle the most for you personally.

To do this, step back, take a moment and ask yourself what am trying to create with my life?

What are my riding goals?

What are my financial goals?

Where am I wanting to be in a year time?

Ask yourself those big questions. When you do it leads you to be able to put the first things that are going to move the needle in those directions first?

It can be hard to step back and ask these massive questions, but if you don’t you just end up having days and years on that treadmill spinning and never reaching your goals.

So do take a moment to ask yourself, what is that you’re trying to create with your life?

And then what is truly most important to your values if you have those things in place?

These will then help guide a lot of decisions and actions you make every single day instead of just like next fire, next fire, next fire. You can actually step back and look at this thing you call life in totality.

So then the key is to make sure that your actions actually align with that?

Let’s put it into actual. So one of the things I have is my health is a top priority for me, and I will prioritize this over other priorities in my life, it’s not that the other things aren’ hugely important to me, but its that without health I can’t do the other things well.

So when it comes down to make a decision, it’s already made for me because my health comes first.  I don’t get to make a decision because there is no decision.

I am still a business owner, personal trainer,  friend, a rider, a wife and I still have 100s of emails every day and requests of me all the time. But the decision is always made after my health decision first.

All the other things are still important to me and all these things still happen, emails all get answered, but it’s in the order of priorities first.

Tim Ferriss talks a lot about figuring out what are the decisions that you can make that eliminate thousands of others.

We can get decision fatigue and end up empty due to our inability to prioritize.

However, if you are clear about your priorities you can limit half the decisions you need to make because the decision is already made.


Develop a growth mindset.

Everything you can do today, you have learned how to do as a human. You learned how to walk, talk, read, write a bike, how to ride. You learnt everything.

Yet we have this inherent thing in our society, that when we get older we stop learning. That you are either born with a certain fixed amount of talent in certain areas or not.

Nicola, you’re going to be an artist. Ben, you’re gonna be an athlete. Sally, you’re so creative. Fred, you struggle in school like and we’re told like from the earliest ages, this is who you are, you’re fixed with it. Do the best you can with the cards you’ve been dealt or so the saying goes.

We can get caught up in a fixed mindset and think that we are good at certain facets and poor at others. I thought I was a poor reader at school, but I never actually read much growing up, I simply didn’t like it so I didn’t do more than was required for school.

It wasn’t until I got older and have read many many books, I have become a goodish reader. If I had actually read more as a kid, I would probably had been a much better reader (and writer).

Heres the secret……….it takes practice!!!

What separates professional riders from amateurs, its the hours in the saddle. It’s the 10+ horses per day. Its the life long dedication.

Yes, some people have a unique gift in certain areas, but if you realize that it’s more about practice than it is about the talent you can be a lifelong learner and you can move the needle in all these different areas and make changes in your life where you wish.
You can.

If you want to be a business person, you can.

If you want to be a professional rider, you can.

If you want to be a good artist or sculptor, you can.

If you want to be a musician, you can do any of those things. It’s not what you’re born with. It’s not about being.

It’s about becoming that person and putting in the hours of dedication and time that it takes. Growing into the person and developing those skills.

Don’t stop learning because your now an adult, become a student for life and continue to learn and practice.


Focus only on what you can control.

You can’t control the weather, I get it and it can be really annoying when the weather isn’t doing what you hoped it would be doing. But it’s important to remind yourself this is out of your control, so let go of any focus or emotion around it.

If you let go of all the things that you can’t control, you’re left with just a few things you can. And those few things are the process, the process for you to create exactly what you want out of your life.

What you can control can be broken into just a couple of things.

You can control your efforts.

You can show your responses to other people.

That’s the two things you can control, what you pay attention to. The effort you put into things and how you respond to outside events.

You can’t control if you become injured. Unfortunately, that could happen, but you control your response to it. You can’t control what scores the judges give you, but you can control your efforts and your responses to that.

When you focus on what you can control you get more focused on those things and less on those other things and you can start to take control of your results yourself.

People have a lot of drama and conflict in their lives and are stressed out to the max, it’s usually because they’re focusing all these things they can’t control.

That’s what creates drama.

When it comes to personal relationships and maybe situations you find yourself in, try to focus on your responses. Not on the drama. Actions speak louder than words.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” ―Vince Lombardi” quote=”“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” ―Vince Lombardi”]

Grind through obstacles.

The idea behind this is grit is passion and perseverance over a long period of time.

First, you’ve got to find something that you want to achieve and you start doing. For most of you this may be riding and the pursuit of dressage. Then look at every single obstacle as an opportunity to further your development, further your growth.

It’s so easy to look at a little bump in the road and think it’s something that’s going to derail you and throw you off the road. The truth is, it’s not the person that has bought the Grand Prix schoolmaster that has the greatest skill set, its the one who has trained it.

If you go up the smooth side of the mountain, you don’t have any skills when you get there. If you go up the rocky side, you do.

The best thing you can do is learn how to work hard and grind to overcome obstacles. We want obstacles. They’re the ones that develop you. So expect adversity and the person you develop into learning how to overcome it is where the magic happens. It’s not the easy road, its full of emotional roller coasters, but this is the road you grow on.

The goal is not to avoid adversity, hardship or obstacles. It’s to know that they’re coming and to have the ability to respond to those things appropriately and learn from them.

The obstacles the way.



Own your attention is what you pay attention to.

There are so many distractions out there now from the cell phones to the email to the media, to everything, everyone is vying for your attention. It’s a reason that Google wants to make cars.

Google has no interest in selling cars. They have an interest in owning your attention. They want your commute. They want to be able to talk to you and have you pay attention to them while you’re commuting.

That’s how important your attention is that they’re willing to invest in self-driving cars to own your attention.

Shouldn’t we be willing to invest so much in our attention?

So the easy thing here is to make everything you do intentionally. There are two major words I’ve really focused on this year, intention and perspective. Being intentional with your actions, being intentional with your thoughts, being intentional with your time.

Are you sitting down on the couch and turning on the TV?

Because you really need the break because you’ve been busting your ass for 80 hours this week. Don’t get me wrong this is ok if you need a break to help rev yourself back up again. However, if you are doing this because it’s what you do every single night from 6 to 9 o’clock at night you may want to ask yourself if there is a better use of your time.

One is a habit and one is intentional.

It’s OK to turn the TV on totally OK, as long as it’s intentional. Same thing with food. If you eating food because it’s a certain time and you’re not actually hungry, that’s not intentional. That’s a habit.

If you bring intention, you own your attention. This is from a learning perspective, from a growth perspective, from what you do every single time you walk in the door at work. Owning your attention is going to move the needle on our life.

Fulfilment is created when we spend more time living our lives intentionally.


Question your self limiting beliefs.

We’re human beings, so we buy defaults, put reserves on ourselves because it’s all about being safe.

If you remove those storylines though, growth opportunities are everywhere.

Start by stopping looking at the things you can’t do. There are little things you can do.

This is simply a metaphor for everything that we’re doing. Eliminate can’t from your vocab. Instead, focus on things that you can do.

You see using the word ‘can’t’ is a choice and if you were to change it to won’t, you will realise you have been using it as an excuse.

I can’t ride today, it’s raining. I won’t ride today it’s raining.

I can’t go to the gym today I’m too tired. I won’t go to the gym today I’m too tired.

I can’t eat real food. No, you won’t eat real food.

I can’t run a 10k. No. You’re choosing not to run.  I promise you, there are people without legs that run 10ks. You can if you wanted to.

Say you won’t.

Don’t say you can’t.

Stop using can’t as an excuse.


Never whine, never complain.

When you’re whining, you’re complaining, you’re just copping out. You’re selling yourself short. You’re looking at the negative of everything. You’re staring at the obstacle.

In fact, you’re so up close to it, you’re so focused on it. You can’t see the seven, eight, two dozen different paths around the obstacle. If you instead look, take a step back and don’t complain, but see this as an opportunity. The obstacle just disappears and becomes a part of the process.

It’s a normal thing.

Never whine, never complain, never make excuses.

You see when people are positive they can envision themselves having a good experience, they are faster, they’re more productive and they’re more accurate.

So this is whether you’re a concert violinist, an E.R. surgeon or a dressage athlete. If you envision yourself excelling, you are better. Like literally in practice, you are better.

The opposite, that is, if you are not doing that. If you are complaining, if you’re looking at negatives, if you are making excuses, if you’re whining about things, well, it’s really simple.

Whine, complain, make excuses. You’re not as good as you could be is really dangerous thing. The more that you whine, make excuses, the more you see is this frequency illusion.

What you give attention to grows. Ever been on the market for a car and then all you see on the road is the car you want to buy? We were looking at Suzuki swifts and then we would see on the road is swifts everywhere. This is the frequency illusion again.

If you start to complain about one thing, you will now see more and more things to complain about. It’s just it’s the way it works.

And the really, really crazy thing is not only do you see more of it, everyone around you sees more of it because whining complaints are contagious diseases.

You go, hey, Dot, hows your day going? They say, its freezing and the delivery man stupid something something…….. What happens is your mood?  You instantly drop and almost like second nature you want to feed that negativity in your response.

However, instead, it’s not about wearing rose-tinted glasses and being fake. But what if your answer was I am grinding today. Working hard and getting things done. I have my head down and I am being super productive. I have some big stuff in front of me, but I’m working really hard to get through them.

Life is not sunshine and rainbows. This is not a unicorns running in the backyard kind of approach. But it is about realising that negativity is contagious.  It’s instead about reframing and being aware.

Instead, what you’re wanting to do is look at the opportunities, not the obstacles.

And what’s cool about that a positive frame of mind is contagious also.

Now, it’s really simple. I simply don’t complain and I stick with a positive frame of mind. Always.


Practice open-mindedness.

Being a student for life and continuing to grow is a crucial part of the mindset, but what if we go beyond that.

Don’t judge. Be open-minded about everything.  When we take a step back and realise that maybe this person has something to offer. Someone may be talking to you about a new way of training, new management software, new leadership tactic, a new something….. instead of being so quick to judge because it doesn’t quite fit your frame of reference or how you view the world.

Just listen, absorb and see if this is something that you could use in some way, form or fashion or maybe simply not. When we are too quick to judge we can close ourselves off to listening to what may actually be useful.

We don’t need to be so quick to judge people, thoughts, ideas or anything in between. Instead, just put the brakes on and listen.

Sometimes both ways can be correct. There are many paths and roads that can lead to a destination. Each as equally valid as the next. However one may sit better with your philosophy, but that doesn’t mean the other is to not be heard or invalid.

It’s like those artist renderings of an old lady and a young girl. One person can see the older lady and the next person the young girl.  We all just see things differently.

The key is to realize that people have different perspectives, different backgrounds, different viewpoints of so many different things. You don’t need to hammer yours over their heads. Similarly that as they’re talking to you, don’t discount them immediately.

See if you can from every situation, every conversation, every interaction, see if there’s something in there that you can learn to help grow you as a person.

Even if it is simply your response.


Transform every have to into gratitude.

You don’t have to pick up your kids.

You don’t have to cook dinner.

You don’t have to ride.

You don’t have to go to work.

You don’t have to go to the gym.

Those are all things you get to do.

If you just shift that one little thing, all of a sudden life kind of flips itself a little bit. If it doesn’t flip, maybe it shifts a few degrees in towards the better.

You start to realize that these things that you feel like you’re obligated, you are actually really incredible privileges.

It’s that contagious thing again. It’s a frequency illusion also. The more things become positive. Another obstacle comes up and it’s about changing your perspective. Not saying, I don’t have to do that, but instead I get to do that and work through this thing, this is helping me grow.

This is part of the path change.


Chase excellence

I just believe that one of the fundamental components of being a human being is trying to be better and improve.

It’s called evolution. Or call it whatever you want. But we’re supposed to evolve and become better. That’s not generation to generation. That is within our lifetime. We are constantly learning, growing and evolving.

I hope in 10 years time I’m a better person, better rider, a lot more knowledgeable and have continued to grow from where I am today.

That’s only going to happen if we continue to try to chase excellence and keep learning and growing.


[click_to_tweet tweet=”“This is the process—acknowledging where you are, identifying where you want to be, and breaking it down into pieces. Excellence is a matter of steps. Excel at this one, then that one, and then the one after that.”” quote=”“This is the process—acknowledging where you are, identifying where you want to be, and breaking it down into pieces. Excellence is a matter of steps. Excel at this one, then that one, and then the one after that.””]


So there you have it, the 10 principles I put into mindset and mindset can mean different things to different people and maybe in a few years, my 10 principles will be different.

Today though, what it means is fanatical attention to detail while putting first things first.

If you go into a restaurant, you see excellence because there’s fanatical attention to the smallest details, but they’re not letting the major things go away.

The tablecloths are set perfectly. The hostess has the perfect greeting. The menus are amazing, the lighting and the music is perfect, all those tiny little details. But the big thing the first thing is the food is right. That’s the main thing. If all those things were in place, but the food wasn’t great, it doesn’t really matter.

If you go to a top stable, its the attention to all the finer details that you can appreciate. Top riders pay attention to every single transition they ride and they ride 100s of them every training session with attention to every detail of that transition. It’s the attention to the finest details that turns 6’s into 7 & 8 in your dressage test.

Successful people pay attention to detail while putting first things first.

So no matter what your goals are, whether your chasing riding goals or personal goals. Apply these finer details to your journey and see the difference it can make.

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