I found out about Trevor Moawad through NFL quarterback Russell Wilson. Moawad was kind of a mental coach for Wilson, as he also was for many other professional and collegiate athletes and programs. Moawad’s dad was a big leader in the motivational speaking and proto-self-help world, with a focus on self-esteem. Unfortunately, Trevor Moawad recently died from a terminal illness. I thought it would be nice to read his book as a kind of show of respect.
It Takes What it Takes comes from the sports world, but I think the intent is to help anyone in any profession think about themselves and the work in front of them in a more productive and healthy way. While Trevor’s dad was big on positive thinking as an alternative to negative thinking, Trevor was big on neutral thinking. The idea isn’t to automatically downgrade your own situation through self-defeating thinking, but also not to sugarcoat the reality of what you face with positive thinking. Neutral thinking is about figuring out what to do with the situation in front of you given the tools you have at the moment. It’s very practical.
At one point, Moawad says that when facing pressure, people should consider two things:
- Who am I now? (Think honestly about abilities and weaknesses to deal with the situation.)
- Who will I be? (What does it take to become a person more equipped to meet the situation or one’s goals? Do the things to get there.)
That’s an example of neutral thinking. Analyzing the situation, one’s self, and what to do next both in the short and long term.
Another tidbit I liked in the book was something Moawad encouraged college football programs to try – don’t say negative things out loud. (This isn’t about “Good vibes only or toxic positivity or avoiding the truth – you can say things like, “We missed the tackle here because we didn’t read the play right.” You can’t say things like, “I can’t learn.”) Cutting out the defeatist language helps you focus more on the neutral thoughts above that can actually resolve situations. I found this VERY helpful in my new job. Thinking about what I can do instead of just stressing myself out has helped me relax when I’m not at work.
Even though there were some good tidbits, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. It’s full of personal stories and sports-world name drops that don’t really help the reader. In other words, it could’ve been a poster instead of a book. If you want to work on your work psychology, I would read Carol Dweck’s Mindset. It’s about Dweck’s growth mentality and it’s accessible and practical. The good parts in this book are much more detailed in Dweck.