December 5, 2019

46. UMAN Framework – Part 2 – Mental Game

This week we build on our last episode on uniqueness, that everyone brings their own particular unique journey, their skills, their particular personality, who they are when they’re their very best self. That is where we are actually unique, and from that we’re ready for our mental game.

Mental Game (Part 2) is such an interesting concept. How often in life do you feel like you lack the confidence, or you lack the clarity, or you’re overwhelmed, or … There’s just something about, as life gets on and life gets busy, maybe you lose some of your natural confidence and your natural exuberance, and getting in the right head space is difficult, right?

This is a huge, huge part of being successful or achieving your goals in life, so mental game is a really important component of that, and it helps us get on top of our Action Plan and helps us with our final pillar, too, which is Nailing It. But these four things, Uniqueness, Mental Game, Action Plan, and Nailing It, they’re all integrated. You can see, if you were to think about it, how they all fit together.

Sure we can believe that we are a special kind of a human being. We can have a sense of our own sense of uniqueness. We can develop a plan, an action plan. But if we haven’t got the mindset, if we haven’t got our mental game right, it just is not going to work. So we’ve got to work on that.

Our Mental Game

The core outcome of the Mental Game step is confidence and clarity. They’re the two things we really want to talk about today. (We’re not going to cover overwhelm and priorities because we’re going to cover that later when we talk about Nailing It). So when we talk about getting confidence and clarity, and this is having a really solid mental game, there’s five pillars, and we’re going to break those down for you now.

The five pillars are

  1. Self-belief
  2. Skills
  3. State control
  4. Decision-making
  5. Awareness and congruence.


One of things we’ve learned about this, when you believe within your own self – when you have that self-belief, when you know, “I have got the skills,” you actually achieve it. You get the self-belief by getting the runs on the board. You work hard, you work on your particular skills, you set yourself goals, you set yourself a doable kind of a goal, you say, “Who do I want to be? What do I want to do?” and you chip away at those things and get the money into the bank. The money of experience. The money of, I’ve done this and this and this.

When you’ve set yourself those goals, when you’ve got your short term goals, your medium term goals, your longer term goals, and you begin to actually achieve them, you go tick, tick, tick, I’ve got this done, I’ve done that, your self-belief then grows really, really strong. You don’t get this self-belief by reading a book, doing a course; it is by engaging on the battle field of life.

We all carry baggage
The other component to self-belief is when we have particular memories, or experience, or something within our life, sometimes we don’t even know what it might be, but there’s this lack of esteem, and we’ve spoken about that in its own podcast episode, quite a long time ago. Self-belief is that little esteem that, when you think about what the word means, it’s, “I believe in me, I believe I can do this.”

So, sometimes, we carry all sorts of baggage, for want of a better term, rather than carrying the lesson. Now, we don’t want to dive right into building self-belief right now, but that’s such an important pillar. Self-belief, without having that confidence and clarity, will not be anywhere near as strong as it should be.

Some of us, we don’t feel as though we believe in ourselves. Some of us, sure, we’re all going to have our doubts, we’re going to have our particular questions, but it’s when we make the small choice to believe in yourself despite our questions, despite our particular doubts, it’s those small choices that breed that sense of confidence.

And a lot of the time in our work people reflect, “I’ve got imposter syndrome, I don’t believe in me, I don’t have the confidence to turn up every day,” which takes us to point number two around skills.

So often we’ll be talking and they’ll be saying to us, “It’s all me. I shouldn’t be, or I don’t deserve to be here, or I’m not good enough!” You know what? That’s all rubbish.

It’s never about them and who they are. It’s all about, do they have the skills, the technical, the tactical, the physical skills to do the job that they’re being asked to do? Maybe it’s a new career position. Maybe you’ve got a new hobby and you’re going to a new level. The reason you’re not succeeding is you don’t have the technical skill. You don’t have the tactical game plan to do it. You don’t have the physical assets or physical strength or fitness to do this thing…and instead of fixing one of those things you make it all about your and start blaming it on yourself.

One thing we’ve found is, at this particular point, if you’re sitting there saying, “I don’t have confidence, I don’t have clarity in what to do,” most of us make or draw the wrong assumption about what is actually costing me confidence. We think it’s one thing when it’s really the other. So if you’re in a situation and you’re walking into a room, or a relationship, or a task, and you don’t have confidence, ask yourself, “Is it lack of experience and self-belief? Is it, do I have the technical skill to do this, the physical attributes, or the tactical game plan?” And if you don’t have any of those four, start with that – the skills. It’s the easiest place to start. You have to give yourself a new skill, a new physical strength, or get some experience in the bank to draw upon.

Trust yourself and your experience
When you walk in to that room, trust yourself, trust your experience, trust your hard work. Just a week or two ago, Pricey was working with 250 students within a school. They were boys about to go into their final year at school. He was looking at this crowd, and thought to himself, “Hey, Damien, I’ve done this a lot. I’ve got skills here,” and he just trusted himself, believed in his own self. He was clear about what he was going to do, why he was going to do it, and how.


Let’s just say for a minute you’ve got your self-belief and your skills all sorted. Every now and then though you just lose your emotional control. You just, for one reason or another, either you’re nervous or there’s something that doesn’t quite work for you. You’ve got no energy for something. There’s a block. This is what we call, well, you’ve got to call upon some state control.

Now, state control is getting yourself into a resourceful mindset, resourceful physiology, so you’ve got the right biochemicals flowing through the body, that are good for you as a human being, that get you into the right place. So, as an example, we’ve all been nervous when we get up on stage giving a presentation or a little talk we’ve got to give. Everyone gets nervous from time to time. You’ll notice that when you’re nervous, all the wrong biochemicals that are going into the body mean that you can’t even access the words you’ve probably written down a hundred times.

It’s like you never even heard of these words. You probably only said them in your head five minutes earlier. So that’s when you have the real lack of resourcefulness in the moment, when we’ve got to draw upon, even though you’ve got some self-belief, you’ve got some skill, all of a sudden the nerves hit or something goes wrong, and so there’s a few different ways to control state.

Mindset, Breathing, Posture
First one is mindset. This is about framing the thing or the activity you were about to do in a particular way. It’s a way that’s going to bring out the very best version of yourself.

One of the things we find here, before we’ve got a big, big job, we will often stop. You might walk outside, find a tiny bit of space. You might need a tiny bit of quiet. You might need to be able to get your head into the right space. You might’ve rushed there. You might have seen some people in the audience, you’re a little bit scared of whatever’s going to happen to you. You need to kind of get yourself and your head into that particular space, into the frame.

What I’m fighting is the actual voices in my head, which are going, “You’re going to stuff this thing up. You can’t do it. What on Earth are you doing here?” all those simple things. So you’ve got to become aware of them, face them off, reframe them.

Get that frame of fear and reframe it into a frame of a focus.

An example of a mindset or a frame, like just say if I’m running a day with some executives, I’ll often go in with the mindset of, “A leader is a dealer in hope!” Therefore, that’s my job, is to try and deal some hope, and it actually gets me, if I’m focusing with the mindset to deal some hope, what does that do to my physiology, to my breathing, to my attention on the day? I’m no longer worried about looking like an idiot. I’m now focused on this thing that I want to be, and that’s what a mindset does.

Another example would be, and I remember seeing rugby players use this, and my mindset in a really difficult training session is to put money in the bank and then I can spend it on Saturday. Or my mindset is to seek true understanding in a meeting. What does that do? It focuses my attention in a particular way, gets me resourceful so I can nail it.

So that’s a bit of state control. The first thing is mindset. The other ways, of course, to control your state are through the structure of your breathing, how many seconds you breathe in, how many seconds you breathe out, which is why meditation is such a good thing, and just pure posture and your physical shape. We all know what the body looks like what we’re confident and what it looks like when we’re depressed. Sometimes you’ve got to get the body shaped correctly so you get the right breathing and the right mindset.

And of course as for all that we talk about in Universal Man is to work out what works best for you? Everyone’s got their particular way. We know there’s some particular sportsmen, before a game they need to be on their own. Others listen to really loud tunes. Everyone’s got their particular why, so find your why of becoming aware, your way of getting your state control.

And if you’re not sure of one mindset that might work for the thing you’re taking on, just Google mindsets for rugby, for relationships, for work, for presenting, and there is an endless list of cool mindsets and phrases and mantras you can apply to get your body moving, right? So if those three things, self-belief, skills, and state control, in my mind, they’ve always had a huge role to play in confidence in activity, but the second part of the mental game in particular is clarity.


Am I making the right moves? How do I make the right moves? The fourth pillar we’re going to talk about is decision making.

Greg and Pricey are fascinated by the number of us who do a lot of that kind of self-belief work, and we’ve got heaps and heaps of skills, we’ve got our particular thinking right, but we are amazed at how many people do not have good frameworks, don’t have a good decision making kind of a system.

We believe this is a huge factor in what separates good from great, certainly from average to good. The number of chiefs that Greg has interviewed on his other podcast (The Inner Chief), just about every one of them when he asks a question, you’ll listen to them almost intuitively tell you their framework that they use to solve that problem.

These chiefs have so many frameworks, these mental models, and when a challenge or an issue or problem pops up in front of them, they solve it so quickly because they assess, diagnose, treat, and get an outcome as quickly as humanly possible. Decision making frameworks are what help doctors make really complex diagnoses quickly.

In life, when something pops up in front of us, you’ll note a particular issue, maybe with a relationship at home, or with your finances, or with your career pops up, and you don’t know what to do, and you cycle through all these different options, and you just don’t know what … there’s just so many options. Well, there’s none. It’s because you’ve got no decision making process to choose.

When you have a framework, when you’ve got that particular decision making process, you’ve got a focus, you’ve got steps, it’s saves you energy, it focuses time. After a while, it becomes part of you and you are doing it without even becoming aware of it. We think that in about 90% of the Universal Man podcasts, we teach a framework. We do this because we want men to have a way of saying, “Well, when this problem pops up, here’s at least three, four, five steps that will help me solve it.” Both of us work in the personal coaching and supervision, and one of the things that you rarely do is tell someone the answer to their problem.

You never give advice. It is absolutely not your job. Your job is to help the client make a decision through the process of your coaching. One of the things Pricey is finding is when he coaches, the number of times he actually stops and he’ll say to the particular client, “Hey, what did you just do there?” Now, they’ve got so used to Pricey doing this now (it is part of Pricey’s framework) that they smile and they go, “Yeah, what I did was this.” So Pricey is building up their awareness skills, building up their ability to learn from what they are actually doing.

Making a framework
So that’s element four, know your decision making framework for a particular challenge, and if you don’t have one, if there’s a challenge, or an issue, or a problem in front of you, make one up. Make a framework up.
• What would be your criteria?
• How would you assess the problem?
• What kind of things would you need to decide on, right?
Then you’ll actually have something that you can use to solve the problem.

We’re not talking rocket science here. For example people will walk into a room and go, “Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.” Example, a classic example of a framework.


This brings us to our last element which is awareness and congruence. Your Mental Game can be shattered if, in life, you are doing things that sacrifice your personal congruence, where your values are called into question, where your humility is sacrificed. So we talk about confidence and clarity, but if you’re doing things in your own mind where you start to question who you are, then guess what? Your mental game goes out the window. You start to really lose faith in yourself.

This is where we believe that everything we’ve said here goes into the whole Universal Man space, because up until now, sure, it’s skills and it’s state control, it’s having a framework, but we’re saying underneath all of that, your values and your particular principles, why you do what you do, how you do what you do, they are really, really, really, really strong. It’s like the actual foundations of a house. You’re building a house, but the foundations are your particular values.

If we talk about the Rugby World Cup that’s just passed, and we think about the Australian rugby team, which got knocked out in the quarter finals by a very dominant English team, what actually happened in that game and actually throughout the tournament was the Aussies had phenomenal self-belief. In fact, perhaps to the level where you thought it was not even quite real, wasn’t justify. Their skills were good, generally pretty good. They seemed pretty fit. They generally seemed to be in flow on the field, so their state control was good, but it started to go wrong around decision making.

Everyone was, in the press and the observations online, were, “Oh, my God, why did they kick that, or why did they do this?” It didn’t make any sense, like they weren’t watching or responding to what was actually happening in front of them. So their confidence and clarity on the field ended up costing them because they weren’t making the right decisions in the moment.

Whereas, perhaps if we flip to the English side, which went all the way to the final, Greg remembers chatting to a coach before the tournament started and he said, “The English won’t go all the way, they won’t win it,” and Greg said, “Why?” and he goes, “It’ll be physically too hard.” Greg said, “Explain that to me,” and he goes, “Well, they have to play five Tier 1 nations in a row.” They had to play Scotland, France, Australia, New Zealand, and then South Africa, in a row, which is essentially the top … the five biggest countries in the world, in a row, and beat them all, right.

He said, “It’ll be a bridge too far for them.” Unbelievable how accurate he was because they lost in the final to South Africa, who didn’t have to play so many difficult games. They had a couple of easier games in there to recover. So they had the belief, they probably had the skills, the thing they lacked in the end was the ability to recover physically. Now, whether or not that’s 100% true or not, that’s down to a whole bunch of decisions. But even Eddie Jones, the coach of England, said, “We probably should have freshened some players up before the final.”

Isn’t it an amazing thing? So our whole podcast today is about your mental game. As a 7th XV coach, Pricey has been watching rugby for years now, but has never heard rugby coaches and commentators talk about Mental Game as much. People, sure, we looked at the skills of all those particular teams, but the number of times it was the mental game that was the particular topic of conversation and often the difference between teams.

But the Mental Game, it’s all built on your value. Do you value hard work? Do you value team? Do you value the ability of every player in this team to bring out the best in one another? When you got those particular values and they are strong, you are then humble, truly humble. It’s not, “Aw, shucks, I’m not good.” It’s that kind of humility which comes from strength. It’s the humility which comes from belief in self and belief in the other members of the team. It’s the humility which comes from a sense of clarity, confidence. I know who I am, I know what I am about.

Talking about the those values and that humility, Siya Kolisi, who was the captain of the South African rugby team, when they won, immediately he was going back to the humble beginnings of growing up in a township in South Africa and playing for them, and saying, “Pressure is not a final. Pressure is not having a job and living in a township.” That phenomenal level of groundedness can create incredible confidence and clarity.

So they’re the five elements, self-belief, skills, state control, decision-making, and the last one is awareness and congruence. What these five things will do is give you confidence and clarity to overcome some of life’s challenges. They should help you diagnose maybe why you don’t have confidence and clarity in relationships, in your finances, in your health, in your career, so that you can actually improve each of those.

When you now go to develop your particular plan, when we talk about our action plan now, it’s going to be wrapped around by your Mental Game.

One of the final points here around Mental Game is that it is a muscle. If you don’t work on your Mental Game, you will get weak, right. You absolutely have to continually work on your mental game. In fact, all of the steps in the U-Man framework require a pretty constant level of attention. Knowing your uniqueness, knowing your mental game, being connected to your action plan, and nailing it with discipline. As soon as you drop out one of those and you stop paying attention to it, you’ll lose. When you work on that and you are aware in every aspect of what we are talking about, you go to a deeper level of that factor again – that’s Mental Game and that’s a key part of the UMan Framework!

Grego and Pricey