How to think like a champion

“Purpose is everything,” says tech guru turned Take FLIGHT founder Mark Whittle

Mark Whittle had made it. Working in tech, he’d just closed the biggest sales deal he’d ever worked on, the culmination of six months’ work, and he was now making more money than he could ever imagine. There was just one problem: he felt completely and utterly unfulfilled.

That defining moment would be the catalyst for Take FLIGHT, a banner under which Whittle now speaks at inspiring live events, hosts a podcast (interviewing champions like Victoria Pendleton and Sir Steve Redgrave) and offers one-to-one performance coaching for entrepreneurs and athletes, all in a bid to help people live more fulfilled, joyful lives.

We spoke with Whittle, who is hosting an evening at TOG on Thursday 7th October, to find out how we can begin to develop a champion’s mindset – and why purpose is everything.

Build a foundation

A champion’s mindset begins with a strong foundation, Whittle says. For him, this is a morning routine that includes a cold shower, so that even if his day doesn’t end up going as planned, he has something positive that he can fall back on, guaranteed.

“It could be meditation, hydrating and eating healthy in the morning,” says Whittle. “All the fundamental things that get our bodies and minds in a good place.” The key is to make sure you build this foundation every day.

Teamwork makes the dream work

“Having a team around you is so, so important,” says Whittle. “You could call it your dream team or your championship team, but it should be a team of people you know are going to support you. It is really hard to be a champion every day – or to turn up with that mindset every day – so having people there to encourage you and lift you up is really important.”

What’s your purpose?

Without purpose, we end up ricocheting inside the pinball machine of our lives with no real fulfilment. “Purpose is your North Star essentially,” says Whittle. “You have something to navigate towards on your own. Goals are great, but we often set materialistic goals so it’s nice to have that purpose behind what you’re doing. It’s beyond the goal, beyond the thing which is a by-product of what you achieve. Figure that out for yourself.”

Step into, and through, discomfort

Whittle encourages us to take particular notice when we feel fear or when things are difficult, and to push through regardless. “Each time you force yourself to act through the discomfort, you start to learn and build a muscle that understands what you gain from doing it,” explains Whittle. “Everything we do should be about who we become on the other side of that discomfort.”

Don’t forget to play

Having the mindset of a champion is serious business, of course – “very full on and intense a lot of the time,” according to Whittle. But if we don’t take the time to enjoy ourselves too, then we can easily find ourselves burning out – fast.

“Having play and downtime to enjoy the fruits of your labour is important,” Whittle encourages. “Laughing is such a good tonic, that’s what I want to do more than anything. We always have a great laugh at our events.”

Sign up to Mark’s TOG talk here, where he’ll be speaking with former WBO Super Middleweight World Champion boxer George Groves, who’ll discuss the seven traits that made him a champion.