10/21/21: Combat negative bias with an "Awesomeness Journal"

Sent 10/21/21


  • Our Fueling the Pursuit episode with Makenna Myler is out! Makenna ran a 5:25 mile while 9 months pregnant and then qualified for the US Olympic Trials...as an unsponsored amateur runner! She shares her journey to earning her first pro contract and prep for her first marathon in NYC. One of my favorite podcasts I've done.
  • With the Footlocker Cross Country Championships becoming the East Bay Cross Country Championships, I republished an old article from the archives about how Foot Locker can compete with Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) to crown the one true individual national champion. 

This week's Think Better Newsletter is about combating negative bias and reminding yourself how awesome you are

The Idea

This is my second newsletter referencing an idea from Greg McMillan's fantastic book, Running Nirvana: 50 Lessons to Elevate Your Running. (Last week I wrote about the most important training lesson.) He has a fun, practical strategy for dealing with our inherent negative bias and self-doubt.

If you're like me--and by this I mean "a human"--you have this little voice in your head that is constantly evaluating, judging, and criticizing everything you do. 90% of the time it's negative, and the other 10% of the time it's cautiously optimistic at best.

When things are going well, it's looking for flaws and doubting it will last. When things are going poorly, it throws fuel on the fire and tries to convince you that you might as well quit.

When we're struggling in a race, that little voice points out that we're unprepared, that we went out too hard, or that we are weak and don't deserve to be there.

When we ask a question with an obvious answer it chastises us and questions on how we could be so dumb.

When someone says our work is great but would be a little better with a couple minor tweaks, we question why we didn't do those in the first place (or we question why they felt the need to point out something so trivial).

Or in my case, when I got a bad review for my book, it bothered me way more than I rationally know it should, especially given the reasons mentioned. It immediately kicked into gear an "I knew it" voice that went straight for my self-confidence. 

No matter how awesome we are, that little voice will always be able to point out how we can be better. But if that's all we hear, it's tough to stay motivated. We need strategies for boosting the positive messages, which are just as valid as the negative.

The System

One of the ideas I loved from Greg McMillan's book (Lesson #36) is the "awesomeness journal." It's a simple idea, really. Document any situation where you did something awesome. Then go back to it and be reminded about how great you're doing when you're feeling overwhelmed by the negative voice in your head.

From a running perspective, this can include runs where you feel great, significant accomplishments, or even sticking with a habit for a long period of time. You can also put in motivational quotes or things that inspire you.

When you are successful, it makes you feel good. But that feeling can dissipate over time and be difficult to summon when times are tough. Having it all documented makes it easier. 

I particularly love this because the idea doesn't have to pertain to just running. I fully intend to create an "awesomeness journal" for my work as well. That way when I ask a dumb question or somebody spots a flaw in my Excel files I won't just spend my time feeling like a screw up. I'll have an easy reminder of all the awesome things I've done.

The Question

What is your system for reminding yourself how awesome you are?


Go Be More,

Bryan Green
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast
Co-host of the Fueling the Pursuit Podcast

"You Americans are so funny. You use the word 'awesome' to describe everything. I imagine all your conversations in America ending with, 'Yeah, that's awesome! (High five)'"
- my friend Sara, from London, England, on how I speak



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