This piece originally appeared in Inc.
In his latest book, Iron Ambition: My life with Cus D’Amato, Mike Tyson lays out what it took to become a champ.
Inside, Tyson details his relationship with his trainer and what took him from a punk kid in Brooklyn involved in petty crime to 7 years later becoming the youngest heavyweight champ.
How did he do it?
Simply. There was no secret bullet, no expensive course he took that “catapulted him to reach his full potential.”
He became the best in the world by building a daily training routine with a simple set of tools—tools you can use to become a champ in your own life.
Tyson’s Daily Routine Uses Tools You Already Have
Cus D’Amato, Tyson’s trainer, gave Tyson a “secret sauce” of mental training anyone can practice:
“As a 13-year-old and 14-year-old kid, he would sit me down and put me under hypnosis and he would tell me that I’m the most ferocious fighter that God ever created… And I’d go through all those affirmations: ‘Day by day, in every way, I’m getting better, better, better.’”
Tyson’s approach didn’t involve a 6 month spiritual retreat, or a crazy diet, just a daily routine of sound (and free) mental training.
This isn’t groundbreaking stuff. Tyson’s affirmation is the most famous in history, by Emile Coue. Pick up any self-development book, and you’ll find plenty of great examples. The difference is, Tyson consistently and forcefully put them to work.
How To Put Tyson’s Tools To Work For You
The best thing you can do for yourself is to stop reading about mental conditioning, and put a routine in place.
I spent the better part of a decade reading books on personal development, when I wish I’d spent more of those early years reading less and practicing more.
Rather than reading many different ways to do affirmations, I wish I’d started talking to myself sooner! Rather than knowing the power of visualizations, I wish after the first book I read, I had stepped back and built a series of new visualizations.
There’s no secret to these tools—Top human performance comes from training. And there’s no secret to how you use them—You don’t need to read 10 books on how to use a hammer; you start hammering.
It’s easy to get started. Write out a few affirmations. What are just a few sentences you would repeat to yourself every day that get you thinking and feeling better, and taking better actions? What visualizations might you create for the future you want?
Once you’ve established your routine and you’re using it daily, it’s easy to keep improving.
Success Really Is This Simple
There will always be trendy new systems for self-improvement, $10,000 retreats you can attend, and new bestsellers promising to unlock your deepest potential.
However, when you look at the great winners throughout history, they weren’t people who discovered some mental hack no one else had ever thought of. They were people who worked on improving themselves tirelessly, often times using the simplest, most well-known tools.
For winners, it’s not about finding the most advanced tools, it’s about doing the work.