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Mindset Tools to Conquer Negativity

photo: Sports Illustrated


If Mindset is the Battlefield,
We Need Swords, and Shields.

Before Michael Phelps launches himself  into a pool to race, he’s already won in his mind. The outcome of the race is a foregone conclusion. The most winning athlete in Olympic history– 23 gold medals, and 28 overall– is a case study in visualization, mindset training, and mental priming.
Sure, Phelps has the perfect swimmer’s body and decades of coaching. But as he ages– and continues to destroy younger competitors– he leans more heavily into the rituals that have worked better for himself than for any other athlete in history.
His pre-race ritual during the Rio Olympics launched thousands of memes. You can find him in the green room with headphones on, likely in a hoodie, with a facial expression of Absolute Intensity. Neuroscience research has shown that visualization uses many of the same parts of the brain used in actual performance. (Jacobson 1931, Suinn, 1976).
Priming simply refers to “priming the pump”. Your brain will unconsciously pump thoughts the same way the heart pumps blood. By priming the pump of our thoughts, we can access the subconscious mind and influence those thoughts in a positive direction.
Over the last 12 years, I’ve done a lot of personal research and experimentation in priming, brainwave entrainment, and optimizing conditions for success. I’ve always wanted to compile this arsenal of resources in 1 place.

Bookmark this page, and please share it. Negativity in our political systems and media is at an all-time high, and if we don’t consciously work to overcome it, it holds us back.


Why this is so important

The quality of our thoughts determines the quality of our reality.

The research on how many thoughts our brains think per day is conflicted. Most people cite 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts per day, although the sources of that research are sketchy. Dr. ER Watkins is a professor of psychology and has studied constructive versus destructive thoughts for over a decade. The modest estimates are that 70% of our thoughts are negative, or unhelpful. In psychology there’s a concept of the Negativity Bias

Paul Rozin, phD is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and faculty member of Martin Seligman’s famous Master of Applied Positive Psychology program. Rozin proposed 4 elements of the Negativity Bias, which says that in the absence of information our brain is more likely to fill the gaps with negative information. Our bias toward negativity is thought to have evolutional roots as protection from threats or predators. One of the 4 elements is Negativity Dominance, which is the “tendency for the combination of positive and negative instances to skew towards an overall more negative interpretation.”

A minimum of 70% of the thoughts we think reinforce the reality we’re in, and actively work to prevent the possibility we crave.

Our ability to discern helpful versus unhelpful thoughts is the battlefield of life. We need to tidy up our mental and emotional environment to give success a fighting chance.

Here are 7 go-to processes, resources, or practices I use regularly, and recommend to my coaching clients.


up1. Getting Your Own Attention: 4-7-8 Breathing

Time: 2 minutes. 57 seconds to complete 4 cycles, ideally twice per day.
I recently led a workshop on navigating massive change for AT&T. Practicing this simple breathing technique worked so well, that many of their leaders use 1 minute of it (4 cycles takes about :57 seconds) to kick off their weekly meetings.
There’s been a lot of research and praise around this simple breathing practice. Many people find it helpful in falling asleep. Dr. Weil MD shared a short video on why the consistent practice is so powerful. In a nutshell, the theory is that by “imposing specific rhythms in the voluntary nervous system, gradually these are induced in the involuntary nervous system.”
I can’t understate how powerful this is to grab your own attention, especially when things go sideways. 4-7-8 works like a magical combination that quiets the mind, and unlocks your self-soothing, similar to how “shushing” calms fussy infants.

up2. Hemi-Sync Music + Binaural Beats

Time: 15 minutes to select or purchase, 30 min to curate in your phone, and as much as you want to listen throughout your day.

Binaural Beats refer to a series of waves played in the right, and left ear. They are slightly offset, so when they are heard simultaneously through headphones, the brain produces a beating effect, or third sound. They’ve taken off in recent years, and you can find thousands of examples on YouTube and Spotify.

These subsonic waves take your mind into an integrated, meditative state by aligning the left and right hemispheres. The most common waves are Beta, Alpha, Delta, and Theta. Personally, I prefer Alpha and Theta waves to access the subconscious mind, without putting myself to sleep. These make a phenomenal soundtrack to physical activity.

Note: You are not recommended to listen to binaural music while driving.

Hemi-Sync was the pioneer in the space, and has released hundreds of albums designed to achieve specific, desired mind states. I’ve been listening to their stuff for years, and a few are my all-time most listened-to tracks in my iTunes library. Hemi-Sync is produced by The Monroe Institute, who’s founder (Dr. Robert Monroe) has documented out-of-body experiences since the the 50s.

Recommended: Create a “priming” playlist of music that elevates your vibe, and vision. Hemi-Sync hires masterful ambient composers that cover many genres of music. You can now hear a few of my favorites on Spotify.

up3. The Ultimate Gratitude Practice: 10 & 10

Time: 10 minutes to write, and another 7-10 min to practice each day.

Gratitude is so powerful because it pulls us out of petty complaints, or justified resentments. Thank God, we can’t be simultaneously grateful and pissed off at the same time. Gratitude redirects our thoughts to what we’ve already manifested, and bathes them in deep reverence. It’s one thing to say “I’m grateful for my comfy house”. It’s a deeper experience to write out why you’re so grateful, read it back, and embody the feelings associated with how truly blessed you are.

I discovered this practice in Matthew Ferry’s excellent little book: Creating Sales Velocity, which is a badass manifestation book to help you align your products and services with your clients. The book is a short, 2-hr listen on Audible.


10 & 10 Gratitude Practice


Step 1. On 1 sheet of lined paper, list 10 separate things you love about your life. Some big, some small.
Step 2. Just beneath, list another 10 things you will accomplish in life.
Step 3
. As often as you can, meditate, or quiet the mind for a few minutes. Then….

Step 4. Review each item at the top of the list slowly, trying to feel into your deep gratitude for each.

Step 5. Carry those loving, grateful vibes with you into the bottom half of the list.
Try to experience each of those as if you’ve already accomplished them.

Remember: Someday, these will be the things you’re grateful for having accomplished.

up4. Focus Wheels


Time: 7 minutes to write. 2 min to reread.

Another powerful way to quickly elevate your vibe, and release resistance around a specific topic is to create a focus wheel. The concept was introduced by Abraham-Hicks. It works because it requires roughly 7-minutes of focus, and writing. There’s a deep connection to the subconscious mind with writing exercises, which makes it a hands-on, active process.

No one can release our negative thoughts for us. The focus wheel empowers us to choose better feeling thoughts that attract more better feeling thoughts. This creates an upward spiral as you work around the 12 sections of the wheel, so by the time you’re complete, you are thinking and feeling in vibrational alignment with what you want.

Rather than beat yourself up over thinking crappy thoughts, or working to release them, you start with what is true for you now. You move beyond negative interpretations and start with facts based in truth. Once you’re on the wheel, it takes about :17 seconds to identify the next better feeling thought, and you’re on your way.

I’ve shared the 4-min overview below with just about every client over the years. I take ZERO responsibility for this guy’s crazy sexy voice. He’s clearly practiced it. 🙂  This is the best depiction of how the “merry-go-round” works, and how to make it work for you. I keep a small stack of printed Focus Wheel templates on my desk, or in my laptop case.

I recently used this to close 7 clients in 1 week. They were already in the pipeline, but the focus wheel removed any lingering resistance from my vibe.

Pro-tip: Write an focus wheel that feels amazing, then record your voice reading it. Use a free-recording software like Audacity to overlay your voice onto Binaural music (#2 above). Listen to THAT molotov cocktail of elevated vibes while you run, commute, or sit in nature.


Focus Wheel Overview

up5. Simplify + Amplify Worksheet

Time: 5-10 minutes to write, and another 5 to check in with each day.

This completed worksheet is laminated in the front of my projects binder, which travels with me everywhere. It’s an alignment exercise I developed for my coaching clients, who tend to be entrepreneurs, or executive leaders in organizations. These are people who juggle many competing priorities, and who are used to getting the important stuff done.

There’s power in writing simple commitments that keep building upon one another. It’s designed to be a clear reminder of what matters most, especially as we lose focus throughout the year.

A lesson that stuck with me from corporate life, is that effective curriculum design requires time to make things simple. This exercise took months to develop, and more to pair down into a single, elegant sheet.

Pro-tip. Use this as a check-in with your coach each week. This provides the foundation of my “on the court” tactical coaching, while ontological (“off the court”) coaching addresses ways of being, and deeper roadblocks.

up6. The Lens Statement

Time: 20 minutes to write it, and another 5 to check in each day.
The Lens is another process I’ve developed over the last 7 years. It’s a statement of purpose and intention, that’s created from a list of (capital V) Virtues. I love this definition of virtue by Synergy Group: A virtue is a characteristic of a person which supports individual moral excellence and collective well-being.
This is easily my most consistent priming practice. I listen to it either at the gym, or while running the trails. When you record a statement of intention in your own voice, it becomes much more than an empty affirmation.
It becomes a directive.

Lens Statements need to be both inspirational (resonant with who we are today), and aspirational (resonant with our compelling future).

The craziest, high-vibe sequence I’ve found for a morning self-care routine is:

1 – Meditation, first thing. (Soul non-negotiable)
2 – Family/Partner connection (Family non-negotiable)
3 – Lens Statement while Running or exercise (Soul: Vitality integration)
4 – Shower and download priorities for the day: (Yes, No, Ask process)

Similar to eyewear, The Lens needs periodic upgrades based on current circumstances and demands.
The Lens Statement process is part of the Full-Life Integration™ Manifesto. I’ve been expanding on this process and its many applications in my forthcoming book.

up7.  Before You Fall Asleep…

Time: 5 minutes.
Have you heard the analogy that most of us in the western world try to fall asleep like we’re parallel parking a car at 30 mph? The stuff we stir up before bed follows us to bed, into our dreams in the subconscious state, and wakes us up the next morning with anxiety. Distance runners figure out that the morning run is set up the night before. We leave our shoes by the back door.
Waking up while drowning in negative, or stressful thoughts has to be addressed the night before.
We’re lucky to fall asleep to some loving words with our partner, but how many of us intentionally fade out our day, and set up our morning? There’s a huge opportunity in optimizing the conditions for restful, rejuvenating sleep.
Greater still is the opportunity to marinade our subconscious mind in soothing positivity and possibility.
Wayne Dyer created a wealth of tools and resources to happily navigate the complexities of life. This is something worth pulling up on the phone and listening to just before falling asleep.

up5 Minutes Before You Fall Asleep



What are some of your favorites?

What could you put into practice today? Would love to hear your feedback.


(“KC”) is a culture and meditation advisor for companies, and personal transformation coach for individuals. “His sweet-spot is in optimizing the employee experience to drive business objectives.” -Deb Josephs (Chief People Officer, IAC Applications). KC’s Mission + Values-centric programs have been featured in Business Insider, onstage at Wisdom 2.0, and in countless conferences and podcast interviews. Kristoffer built his experience with Centro, who won the #1 Best Place to Work in Fortune Magazine, Advertising Age, and for an unprecedented four straight years by Crains’ Business Chicago. Download the free culture blueprint here, or create your meditation habit here.

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4 Responses

  1. This showed up at the exact moment I needed it. Right before my first presentation to a new group I am training. I breathed, visualized, and nailed it! Thank you!

    1. So happy this had good timing for you Rachel. Yeah, there are a lot of things I use before presentations. Love to hear you NAILED it! As if we had any doubts 😀


  2. Thank you KC!! It was all so good. I plan to start breathing the 4-8-7 to focus and to do the writing that you mentioned. I will try to get Spotify for the binaural music. Bless you. Namaste

    1. Hey Diane, happy to share these. They’ve all been transformative. Enjoy, and please report back how they’re working for ya! -kc

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