How to live compete and lead authentically with performance psychologist Dr. Michael Gervais

Muscle Intelligence

04-08-2020 • 1 hr 2 mins

You can only reach your peak performance by doing more. At least that’s what the old approach tells us. Instead of doing more, Dr. Michael Gervais’ new model of being more not only takes you further but it gives you a greater mastery of your mind and body. In this episode, we talk to Michael about the Compete to Create system and book that he created with coach Pete Carroll — this system is responsible for the rise of the Seattle Seahawks. A key theme throughout our conversation, Michael emphasizes that his system doesn’t contain any shortcuts or best-kept secrets. Instead, he explains, you can reach your next level by honing your passion and purpose. After discussing the challenges that fear and fatigue present to living a life of passion, Michael talks about the importance of weaving people into your sense of purpose. Using the Seattle Seahawks as an example, Michael shows that valuing your relationships will help you see what’s possible both in yourself and in others. This is a vital step in becoming the best version of yourself. To illustrate the inner-strength that comes from having a strong community, Michael shares what it was like to be on the sidelines of the Seattle Seahawks’ historic Super Bowl XLIX loss. We also touch on the value of optimism and practicing vulnerability before Michael gives listeners some final advice on how you can develop a guiding philosophy for living a life of purpose and passion. Our game-changing conversation with Michael is made possible through BLUBlox, our awesome show sponsor. Get 15% off and free worldwide shipping for my favorite blue-light-blocking glasses and sleep masks from BLUblox at using the code MUSCLE.


  • How we can lift people by focusing on their strengths and not their weaknesses. [1:09]
  • Focusing on using precise language to communicate our expectations. [3:05]
  • How Michael’s book sits at the intersection of scientific research and the frontier. [5:38]
  • Exploring the framework of Michael’s system and why there are no shortcuts. [6:20]
  • The characteristics that are common to high-performing athletes; passion and purpose are key. [8:21]
  • How people misunderstand what passion means and how to live a passionate life. [10:55]
  • Passion versus fear and fatigue; why it’s difficult to lead a passionate life. [11:36]
  • Maintaining your purpose and weaving community into your sense of purpose. [14:50]
  • How ‘noise’ in the external world distracts us from attuning with our minds and bodies. [15:57]
  • The value of relationships with others and with yourself for being your best self. [17:20]
  • Seeing potential in people and helping them realize what they could become. [20:05]
  • What Michael does to train his ability to see the potential in people. [21:54]
  • How Michael trains his players and lessons that you can apply to your own life. [23:40]
  • Why optimism is at the center of mental toughness and how this links to purpose. [26:00]
  • Self-discovery and skill-building as the two main buckets of psychology. [27:42]
  • How unhealthy thought patterns can help you perform worse. [28:55]
  • Why it’s possible to be mentally and physically healthy and perform. [30:42]
  • How to shift the focus from your competitors to your personal growth. [32:25]
  • How to get out of your own way; developing your internal world is a lifelong pursuit. [34:30]
  • Michael shares a story to illustrate the skills needed to take your performance to the next level. [36:50]
  • Figuring out your intentions and practicing vulnerability to learn how to deal with emotional hardships. [40:25]
  • What we can learn from the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl XLIX loss. [43:00]
  • What Michael is doing to stand by his team during the pandemic; this is a time to double-down on your purpose. [47:50]
  • How Michael and coach Pete created their system and its popularity in the corporate world. [50:38]
  • What competition means; to get better by striving and straining together. [52:05]
  • Finding your philosophy and guiding principles; you don’t need to invent your own. [54:22]
  • Ben leaves listeners with some final thoughts on pushing through your obstacles when exercising. [59:15]