Self-talk: a powerful tool to lead you to the best version of yourself
The inner voice and decisions that keep Mitchie Brusco moving forward towards greatness
Mitchie Brusco has always been a top athlete, with 11 X Games medals and many records. But he is a lot more than that. He is an artist, an explorer, a learner. He started skating when he was only three years old and played team sports until thirteen. While always enjoying the team aspects of other sports like football and basketball, Mitchie gave those up at thirteen when he moved to California and began to compete professionally. An intense curiosity and space to be creative are what he attributes to the driving force in skateboarding, taking the top spot among his other sports. Skateboarding allowed him to develop in the way that he was supposed to. Almost a decade later, the curiosity and individuality at thirteen still show through. When asked if there was a set moment that triggered his love for skateboarding or to choose it over everything else, he had this to say:
“That’s never happened. I don’t want to be a skateboarder. I want to be me. I don’t want to be a basketball player. I don’t want to be a podcaster. I want to be me. And instead of saying I want you to be excited about this, I think it’s a special thing to be excited at all.”
What an unbelievably powerful message. We do not get to choose what excites or motivates us but that we are following something important and true to ourselves when we follow our excitement. It is what allows us to achieve greatness. To unwaveringly follow what excites us. For Mitchie, he attributes it to the support from his parents. For his parents,
“it wasn’t that they were excited that I was excited about skateboarding, but it was that they were excited that I was excited at all.”
It allowed him to believe in himself honestly, which is why he isn’t stopping. It wasn’t just Mitchie, the skateboarder they supported, but Mitchie, the person. It has allowed for him to feel that, with the proper determination, he could succeed in what interests him and create in whatever space he dips his toe. It is the ability to transcend sport and just one individual aspect of life and be creative in so many different areas. Outsiders may have trouble understanding the curiosity that is crucial to who he is. Jumping into skydiving was a prime example of this. It may not have made sense on paper, but his curiosity and excitement drew him to it, and when the two click together, he jumps, and when it does, he’s all in.
There are many ways people attempt to build on their abilities and small goals that we use as metrics to make sure we’re going in the right direction. It is not just the inquisitiveness that makes him such a unique individual but the full-on commitment to what excites him that helps him progress on his way to what truly captures his interest. It isn’t the tiny goals or the specific progress he makes that he uses at benchmarks because
“Success and progress aren’t linear. I was all in! I moved to California and would have had to move home if I failed. It was very clear when it wouldn’t work anymore, so I fought to make it work.”
This desire to truly know how great he can be at something and to actually live it is what sets him apart. He can fail and knows the repercussions of it. All of his dreams could not have come to fruition, and instead of this reality discouraging him, he allowed for it to provide more fuel to his will to make sure he was successful. The entire focus was on moving forward, ignoring the noise, being a kid in a scene full of adults, breaking bones, losing sponsors, but never taking his sights off of his goal. It allowed Mitchie to overcome the adversity of growing and learning in his space. His perspective on progress is an enlightening one,
“instilling enough confidence to know that no matter how many times you get hurt that, even if it was your fault, that time, you’re not a bad person, you failed you’re not a failure, you did a bad thing you’re not a bad person. Combatting shape and instilling confidence and a sense of self.”
This acceptance and support have run deeply in his life, and it is a model for parents everywhere.
Support your children to go out into the unknown and understand that making mistakes is necessary and possible.
It is a requirement for growth, perspective, and to formulate a coherent sense of self. Finding what you’re passionate about and pursuing it will help you learn, grow, and find out who you are.
Mentality and visualization are where it all starts for Mitchie.
“Set the big goal first, and then define smaller steps along the way to actually make it happen.”
You can do what you can do. You can improve, see the steps and the progress tangibly, and these goals are attainable enough that he doesn’t feel like he’s failing all the time but are still challenging enough to allow for him to have to improve to achieve them. His acceptance of who he is and his competitive nature will fuel him. He wakes up as a competitor, and that competitor is someone that can look at the competition in front of him no matter how he feels. Whether it’s a good day or a bad day, whether he’s scared or fearless, no matter his emotions, Mitchie holds onto his belief and makes the jump. Most people will give you a front and tell you they’re never scared, but this is a raw and real look into the mind of an incredible athlete that is humanizing and authentic. The obstacles are challenging. We are still people, and it is possible to fail, but the best of us keep our beliefs and just let our bodies do what they know how to do without letting our minds get in the way. One way that he is able to maintain this composer and belief in height is from the self-talk that he uses,
“I talk to myself a lot. Why are you here, what do you want, who are you, what’s going on, are you okay, making sure that it’s for me.”
This technique allows him an avenue to check on his status and to see if he genuinely has the confidence he holds. To look into his heart and to not only talk but to also listen to himself. Knowing the true message of his heart in that exact moment so he can know the precise way to act and how to compete. Practice this trust and wire your instincts so that when it’s that moment, you’re able to move. The best example of these traits culminating together is the Skateboard Big Air Gold Medal that Mitchie won in the 2018 X Games in Minneapolis. With zero points on his fourth run, he was out of options, and he just knew that he had to go for it. There were many reasons where most would doubt, the run didn’t start well, he had had many events where he didn’t stand on a ten eighty, but when you maintain your beliefs and trust in yourself, you can find greatness. Standing on that ramp and facing your fears is when you find out who you really are and what you’re truly made of. Those are the moments when Mitchie can transcend the sport and step his board, and internally he knows something special is happening. Something clicks. On that day in 2018, Mitchie went out and maintained his faith as he hit a ten eighty in competition, winning his first gold medal. It was special. It was magic.
When he starts talking about how people live their lives, the insight in this section of the podcast is well beyond his years.
“You shouldn’t carry the burden of your existence on your shoulders every day and then let your actions determine whether you’re worth anything.”
Darkness and greatness exist in everyone, and even the greatest among us have large amounts of darkness in them. Depression doesn’t discriminate and touches everyone. He also highlights that people considered regular or average are great in the way they provide for their families and how they strive for their goals and passions. He makes a deep connection here between himself and everyone else. He humanizes himself and points out that everyone’s journey is a battle between darkness and greatness, and those internal moments where it all clicks can happen for everyone when they take action in their own lives. Sharing his failures is another way that he shows this. He still goes out with friends, started multiple podcasts that didn’t gain traction, still needs to sleep eight hours, he’s still a human, just like all of us. The things that separate people that are exceptional are tangible and real, but we are all human at the end of the day. Here is where it all can come full circle. The thing that separates people is who is able to follow what interests them and the drive that comes from fully believing and going all-in on those things. Pushing to the upper limits of those interests by consistently putting in work to practice until it becomes second nature and then when the moment arises, when it’s all on the line, and you have to face the moment, jumping into action and letting all of the effort show.
The final point of all of this lies in the fact that it isn’t just about the external result. You may prepare perfectly and feel great and still skate poorly. You may feel horrible, and the second your foot touches the board you know it’s magic.
The only way to find out is to try with an unwavering belief in yourself each time.
His journey has given him a unique and astounding perspective, and through this he is using it along with his platform to speak on an issue that has touched many people: suicide. Even though he is still driven and finds meaning in life, he is also someone that struggled with depression since his early teens. He made a post on his Instagram about opening the door for conversation to share their own experiences with how suicide has related to their lives. Some of the most meaningful conversations of his life have come from this, from all the comments, audio files, and emails from so many people that his message resonated with. Creating a space for those who feel ashamed or afraid to discuss their experiences and take away the stigma associated with these struggles is an admirable and important endeavor. Revealing the truth behind who he is and ripping the curtain back to show just how human he is.
What makes Mitchie Brusco so powerful is his ability to fully contemplate and create greatness, while understanding the own darkness in his life, to truly share with all of us that he is still a human like the rest of us.
Sharing the tools of elite performance athletes and highly successful people with everyone is a crucial part of our mission with Pactto, and Mitchie uses some unique ones that set him apart.
One of his most powerful tools is his candid self-talk to remind himself who and where he is at the moment.
His inner voice is what keeps him focused, present, far from distractions, and closer to the success he seeks.
The ability to strictly pay attention to himself and the present moment, allows him to recognize those special runs when his foot hits the board, have the precise confidence to keep his faith, even if it doesn’t start well, so he can get out there, fix what needs to get fixed, at runtime, consciously and unconsciously, to get closer to his A-game, and deliver a masterpiece.