Are you focusing on the right things, or are you comparing yourself with everyone else? Listen to Gene Zannetti as he defines effort, attitude, and aggressiveness and their role in developing a growth and winning mindset for success. Every day, you’re faced with making decisions that could benefit you. Are you making the right choices in your life? In this episode, Gene discusses attitude suckers such as perfectionism and anxiety. He shares secrets on how you can break this curse and enjoy the good things life has to offer. It’s time to get back to who you are and build the spiritual strength you need to find your purpose and make an impact.
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Understanding Effort, Attitude, And Aggression To Develop A Growth And Winning Mindset With Gene Zannetti
We have a fantastic guest. We have somebody that is going to carry the light possibly in a little different way. I’m so excited to introduce you to the Winning Mindset Coach and Founder, a former nationally-ranked All-Ivy League Wrestler, Gene Zannetti. He and his brother, Jeff, help individuals and teams reach their full potential in sports school and in life. If you guys have any kids out there, you’re going to want to share this show with them. Please remember to subscribe and follow on any platform that we have. We are absolutely everywhere. If you want to watch the video, we are now on Spotify video podcasting.
Gene has his Master’s degree and did his Master’s degree thesis in Perfectionism and Anxiety. Perfectionists and anxiety-ridden people are our Gappers. He’s been published in the International Journal of Wrestling Sciences. He was a nationally ranked All-Ivy League wrestler at UPenn. Gene and Jeff have studied the best athletes, coaches, teams, and experts in the world to learn the secrets of performance success.
This is a one-of-a-kind trademark Wrestling Mindset program. What’s so cool is if you are a coach, you can get certified with Gene in the Wrestling Mindset at ZWinningMindset.com so you can take the content you’re going to learn in this episode and take it to the masses. Winning Mindset coaches have also worked with thousands of athletes, teams, professionals, and coaches throughout the nation. This includes men and women’s, USA Olympic team members, UFC fighters, national champions, and state champions, as well as youth and rec programs throughout the country. Without further ado, it is time to get an attitude with the one and only Gene Zannetti.
Gene, welcome to the show.
Thank you very much for having me.
It’s great to have you. Gene, what’s your definition of attitude, after all the people that you’ve interviewed? Who was your first attitude coach?
My parents. That would be easy. I look at attitude as being stubbornly positive and optimistic. You have to make a choice. Are you going to be positive or negative? The more time that goes by, the more I realized that’s doesn’t mean smiling, laughing, or having a good time. I’m sure that’s nice, but being positive and optimistic means decisions. It’s a choice to focus on what you’re thankful for and the opportunity, the possibilities, or the present moment.
We get that quite a bit, Gene. When you talk about your parents, what did your parents instill in you? When you talk about your attitude coach, when you think about describing mom or pop, were they together? Was there one that was maybe a little bit more on the attitude education or not? At its core, what did they teach you or instill in you?
Both of them in different ways. I was very blessed to grow up in a very loving home with both my parents and my two younger brothers. My dad was always into sports. He always exercised. He was a former athlete competing in high school. Wrestling is his favorite sport. He also played baseball and he always saved the paper clippings of top athletes, floats, and stories. He would always share those with me. He’d say, “Read this article. Listen to this.”
Whenever we’d watch sporting events together, one big thing he did that a lot of people don’t do is he was big on listening to the interview. Right after the game or after the boxing fight, we would watch, I and my brothers would want to talk. He would say, “Listen to what they have to say.” What you learn is that success leaves clues. You start to see the patterns, the threads, and the themes of these ultra-high-level performers after their best competition. They’re thinking the same thing. He was big with that as well as being an example of exercise, fitness, and taking us to sporting events.
My mom is a tough Italian woman. She didn’t let us make excuses. She was also very into self-help so I saw my share of Tony Robbins and Dr. Phil growing up. She loves self-help books. Putting those two together was the perfect storm. I always say, “You don’t want to focus on what’s going on around you. You want to focus on the things within your control.” We speak about the difference between the predator versus prey mindset.
We could never make the excuse in our house, “My friends are allowed to do this.” My mom never cared about that. She said, “You’re my son. This is how we do things in our house. There are no excuses and no comparing ourselves to other people. You’re capable of doing anything, but there’s a right way to do things.” That morality and our Catholic faith were always stressed and important to our family.
I want to roll back a bit. When your dad said, “Listen. Success leaves clues,” what are some of the things that successful athletes and performance people said in those interviews when you did listen to them? Are there 1 or 2 themes that seem to recur that our Gappers or our readers can take with them? What would a couple of those be?A lot of people think being a positive thinker is a feeling. It's a choice. You have to make a choice between being positive or negative. Click To Tweet
The simple lesson that everyone already knows is to focus on the controllables and forget about the uncontrollables. That’s easy to say, but how do you get that message to stick? That’s why if you look at predator animals like lions, tigers, and bears, their eyes are located in front of their head. We say, “Eyes on the front like to hunt.” That becomes our analogy, our metaphor for focusing on the controllables.
Maybe we have some hunters out there. When you look at the prey animals like squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and deer, their eyes are on the side of their head because they don’t want to get eaten. We say, “Eyes on the side like to hide. Eyes on the front like to hunt.” If you want me to summarize what you’re hearing in those interviews, whether it be Olympics, Super Bowls, championship fights, or anything, you’re focusing on the controllables.
They’re staying in the present moment. You realize that’s the same thing that high-level business people are saying. It’s the same thing with great students and test takers. I’m a school psychologist. I heard many parents say to me, “My kid is not a well-standardized test taker.” When you look at the people who are good test takers, it’s what they’re focusing on. It’s the same thing. They’re focusing on the controllables. That’s why success leaves clues.
The predator with the eyes in front is focusing on the controllables. Is that the analogy?
He or she is focusing on the controllables. I break that down into our preparation or lifestyle. That’s going on all the time. In the present moment, we can’t control that effort. If we’re in a performance, a sports competition, taking a test, on a sales call, giving a speech in front of thousands of people, or speaking in front of an audience, you can’t focus as much on the preparation and lifestyle. That’s already in the bank. It goes down to your effort, attitude, and aggressiveness. Those are the three things that are directly within your control the moment you’re performing.
Let’s break that down real quick. Ladies and gentlemen, Gene is somebody you want to get on your stage. If you’re reading this, if your company needs insight, knowledge, effort, attitude, and aggression, this is somebody that probably needs to be your next keynote speaker. I have a keynote called The Secret is Effort. Talk to me about the attitude and traits of effort. What is effort and how do you break that down?
When you look at effort, we should also clarify that when we say aggressiveness or aggression, you might look at that in sales or in school as being tactfully tenacious. It’s only a metaphor. Sometimes people take that metaphor the wrong way. When we’re looking at effort, it’s making the choice. Are you going to go all out or are you going to hold back? That’s directly in your control at every moment, whether you’re in school, business, sports, or doing an interview. You choose to make that decision.
Only you know deep down, that if you made that decision, you can fake it. You could fool a lot of people, but at the end of the day, you can’t fool yourself. You can but deep down, you know you didn’t give a full effort. That’s a choice. Did you go all out or did you hold back? That’s one of the ways you want to evaluate your performance in terms of the effort and then we can respond to attitude and aggressiveness as you would like.
We opened with attitude and if you need to restate it, that’s fine. Are there any other thoughts on attitude that supersede what you already said?
Not that it would supersede it, but as an addition to it. It’s not a feeling. A lot of people think being a positive thinker is a feeling. It’s not a feeling. It’s a decision. It’s a choice. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in a good mood or smiling or laughing. It’s not rainbows, sunshine, butterflies and everyone holding hands in a circle and singing kumbaya. I’m sure that’s great but that’s not what attitude being a positive thinker is. It’s choosing to focus on the present moment, “What’s the opportunity that’s in front of me?” and being thankful.
We always say you want to weaponize gratitude. Make gratitude your greatest weapon. If you look at all negative feelings like anger, sadness, or fear, they are normal. You’re going to have fear. You’re going to have sadness. You’re going to have anger, but if you’re disproportionately angry, sad, or fearful, there’s probably a lack of gratitude. You can’t be having an attitude of gratitude and be thankful. At the same time, have a disproportionate amount of those negative feelings, which is why we see timeless wisdom. If you look through the Bible, many of the Psalms are praise and thanksgiving.
Let’s talk about this misunderstood word called aggression. I loved tactful tenaciousness. Tell us about harnessing your tactful tenaciousness and aggression. It has a negative connotation, but I have a feeling you’re getting ready to blow our minds and tell us about why aggression is awesome.
A lot of people say effort and attitude and they bucket aggressiveness with effort. I like to break that out further intentionally because this is where a lot of people tend to hold back. You might have an athlete or a person who is giving the full effort, but they might not be going for it. In other words, they might be playing too much not to lose rather than playing to win. It’s important. We don’t want to focus on winning. That’s the outcome.
We can have the goal to win or the championship. If you’re in sales, hitting a certain number or goal is great but your day-to-day focus should not be on the outcome. It should be on what you can do like making enough calls, following up, and going to networking events. It’s the same thing in sports. Are you taking chances? Are you at least attempting to execute the techniques that you do in practice?
We see a lot of athletes who are great in practice. They don’t bring it to competition. They tend to be more cautious, conservative, and hesitant. In wrestling, we would say, they’re not pulling the trigger. Again, it’s metaphorical language. That’s something that needs to be spoken directly to overcome. If you’re in school, you want to be an aggressive student. What does that look like? In college, you’re sitting up front. In any school, you’re asking questions. You’re volunteering. You’re going in for extra help. You’re staying late. You don’t wait for your parents or your teacher to ask you for a tutor. You ask them for a tutor. That would be being an aggressive student, a tactfully tenacious student.
It’s the same thing in sports. You’re looking to execute the technique. In business, one of the things we do is make a lot of connections on LinkedIn. LinkedIn will only allow you to friend a certain number of people. I could tell you that my brother, Jeff, is in charge of a lot of our social media. Almost every week, he hits his limit and we want that. That’s an important thing because it means you’re doing work. You’re taking chances. You’re not holding back. You’re not letting things happen. You’re making things happen. Nine times out of ten, action beats inaction. That’s what we mean by aggressiveness.
Hopefully, we are connected on LinkedIn. I sent a click to you and I’ll look forward to it. I want to go back again. I can tell you’re rich in faith and family. Some of the greatest antidotes and lessons we learn after I asked this one question. What was the attitude of grandma and grandpa Zannetti or your mother’s parents? Were you closer to one of the four? What was that generational attitude lesson that you learned from your grandparents? If you were lucky enough to be around them or know them?
I’m super blessed with a loving family. I’ve taken a lot from my dad’s side, the Zannettis, as well as my mom’s side, the Levas. They are both Italian, but my dad’s mother was Polish. The great thing about my dad’s mother is she didn’t talk as much about sports. She was my break from the grind mentality. She is unconditionally loving, supportive, and easygoing, which was a tremendous balance. That was my grandma Zannetti.
We call my grandpa Zannetti, Poppy. He was our number one fan. He was at all of our competitions. Even at a young age, I get teary-eyed thinking about it, but he would tell us, “You’re the best five-year-old in the world. There’s no one who could beat you,” and he meant it. I remember even joking around. As I would get older, I would say, “Poppy, I could have been a good soccer player, too.” He was dead serious saying, “I know you could.” He made us believe that sky was the limit and even to the point of knowing that we don’t have anything to prove. We’re a champion in his mind.
On my mom’s side, the Levas are Italian. It’s tough. No excuses and no nonsense. My grandpa was very religious. He went to mass every single day. He was the main reason why my brother, Greg, became a priest. He was my sponsor for my confirmation. He had priorities in order and morality. There’s a right and a wrong way to do things. You don’t compromise your faith and morality for anything. That was the most important.You have to make things happen. An action beats an action. That's what we mean by aggressiveness. Click To Tweet
Again, my grandma Leva, we called her grandma. Thank God, she’s still alive. Both my grandmas are still alive. We called her Grandma Tough Cookie and she just didn’t take any crap. God bless her. Even in the 1960s and 1970s, she worked in New York City. She was a director. She was one of the women to pave the way there in the workforce. She has no fear. She believed she was capable of things and always instilled that in us. Each one of my grandparents had a huge impact on my brothers’ lives.
Poppy Zannetti is what you called him. You felt the emotion in his breath when he was talking about him. When we talk about attitude, number one, be nice. The challenge of this show is to go look somebody in the eye and tell them that they are the best in the world at something and mean it. It’s because as you try to bridge the gap between who you are and who you want to become, the more you help other people bridge the gap, the closer you will be to bridging the gap.
I knew there was going to be a good one in there. I want to talk about two things, attitudes suckers called perfectionism which you did your thesis on, and anxiety. Let’s talk about two huge attitude busters. Let’s define perfectionism and anxiety. We can take one at a time and let’s maybe give our Gappers a 2 or 3-step process on how to break the curse of perfection and anxiety. What are they? Define them for me.
They broke anxiety down into three subscales. Cognitive anxiety is thought or thinking anxiety, and then there was physiological anxiety. In other words, sweaty palms, racing heart, and feelings of butterflies in your stomach. The third subscale was confidence, which was taken more as the opposite of anxiety. It’s more of an inverse relationship. Anxiety had the three subscales on the measurement tool that I used.
There is perfectionism. Perfectionism had six subscales. They are concerned about mistakes, doubts about actions, organization, parental criticism, parental expectations, and personal standards. There was helpful perfectionism and hurtful perfectionism. Personal standards and organization tended to be negatively correlated with anxiety. It wasn’t a simple correlation where you only look at perfectionism and anxiety. You would look at the three subscales of anxiety against the three subscales of perfectionism. We found that people were less anxious if they had high personal standards and if they were organized. That breeds confidence and less anxiety.
Whereas the two negative constructs of perfectionism, we’re concerned about mistakes and doubts about actions. Those tended to be more related to anxiety and inversely related to confidence. The two other interesting points had to do with the parents, perceived parental expectations, and perceived parental criticism. That is big. If the athlete reported that the parents seem to have too high of expectations or were too critical, that was more positively associated with anxiety and heavily associated with confidence. It’s more complex than just anxiety against perfectionism. It’s the subscales of anxiety versus the subscales of perfectionism.
Did you write a book on that or you don’t have a book out, but we need to get one out for that? How you explained it is so powerful. I think about the nine-year-old wrestler on the side of the mat and you know if the kid’s going to win or lose. When you talk about that expectation of the parent, a kid’s beat before they start. Let’s talk a little bit because we got parents reading this.
Whether it’s a kid that’s on the side of the mat wrestling, getting ready to go out on a dance floor, dive into a pool and swim, do gymnastics, or play quarterback, what’s your advice to the parent that’s got a kid anywhere between 5 and 15 to help those children as a parent become optimal athletes? What’s your teaching to them? If you could sit a parent down and they said, “Gene, I don’t know what I’m doing. Give me five things I should do when it comes to interacting or handling my child.” Most parents get it wrong in my experience. Lay it on us because I know you got good stuff for us.
Number one is perspective. You got to know why. Why are you doing what you’re doing? A lot of times people will say, “You need to know your purpose.” That sounds good but it’s even more important to know if there is an objective purpose to life that’s external to me, my job is to conform to that external purpose. I could make up a purpose and then in a few years, make up a different purpose, the opposite purpose. Years from then, do it again. I’m very wishy-washy. I’m not built on a solid foundation. That’s why we need to know, is there a purpose? What does it all mean? What’s it all about?
As Catholics, we know the purpose of life is to know love and serve God in this life so we can be with Him forever in heaven. That’s Baltimore Catechism. The first lesson is knowing what the purpose of life is. Knowing that puts things into proper order. You look at perspective. We have our faith and family. We are building virtue and fulfilling our vocation in life. Eventually, we’re going to either be a husband, wife, mother, or father. We’re going to be supporting a family or in the spiritual life, it’s my brother being a priest.
You have your vocation. You are geared towards your vocation. Sports are just recreation. It’s important. I love sports. I want to see people succeed. That’s key to us. We like to see you win. We feel your pain when you lose, but we have to keep it in proper perspective. We don’t have to play sports. We don’t have to be a champion. We do need to prioritize our health, wellness, and fitness for the long-term sustainability of our body and mind.
We don’t need to be champion athletes. It’s the same thing with our careers. We love working with high performers. We work with Fortune 500 companies. We work with many managers, advisors, and great sales reps. You have to provide for your family. That’s your job but you don’t need to be an ultra-high level performer. You want to be a champion athlete. You want to be a high performer in business. Why not? You have to understand that you don’t have to be a massive success. That’s a choice. When people forget that, that’s a big problem.
As a parent, number one, keep it in perspective. Don’t sacrifice the big picture for these small, almost meaningless games. We always say our goal in sports is to use that sport as a vehicle to build virtue and mental skills for life. This goes back to Aristotle. This is BC. If you build virtue, you’ll be successful at anything you do. If you focus on success, you might be massively successful.
Look at some of the movie stars and athletes you see on TV. They are great-looking millionaires with how many followers on social media. Their lives are in shambles. They are suicidal, depressed, hooked on drugs, and have moral degeneracy. That’s not what we are looking at. If you build virtue, you’ll be successful at anything. I only gave you one, but I spoke a lot about it. The first is perspective.
Give us one more, if you don’t mind.
You spoke about the predator and prey mindset. We’ll put that there also. That’s important. You need to make sure you’re focusing on the right things. What you can control versus what you can’t. Don’t compare to other people or look over your shoulder, looking for praise recognition, pity, or approval. Stop comparing yourself. We’ve already spoken about that. The one I will give you is from watching the interviews of a lot of high-level performers. One thing you notice is it’s different than Hollywood movies. When you watch the movie Miracle or Any Given Sunday, what usually happens before the big game? What does the coach usually do?
They have a big pep talk.
What do parents usually do? They try to give a big pep talk right before they go out and compete. This is a big mistake and I made this mistake as well. My brother and my business partner, Jeff, before his state championship match, I was trying to be a good brother only two years older than him. I wrote up a pep talk for him. It was right before the state finals and right before he went out in Atlantic City, the Boardwalk Hall, where there were two WrestleManias, Mike Tyson, Michael Spinks, and all the Miss America contestants and in front of 12,000 people. Before that, in the back, I gave him a pep talk. We were both crying. It was emotional. He went out there and unfortunately, he underperformed.
That’s a big difference that I noticed. If you watched the interviews of the Olympians, the Super Bowl, or the World Series, they’re not making it into a big deal. They’re not making it special. Everything’s important, but nothing is special. They treat it the same. They tell themselves to have fun, be themselves, and do what they always do. They don’t hype the event up. I stated that the parents, as the advice, you need to get away from the fan mentality and the hype. You need to treat it as if it’s just another competition.
I coached at a Catholic high school for 25 years. I was fortunate to be a part of fifteen state championships and a lot of letters to our kids before they went into kickoff. Thank God, we had that mindset. We told our kids, “We treat everyone the same.” If it’s the worst team that wherever playing or the best team in the nation, everyone gets treated the same. What a great message, Gene, from you.We do need to prioritize our health, wellness, and fitness for long-term sustainability of our body and mind. Click To Tweet
Gappers, as you’ve learned, Gene is extremely gifted on the sports side. If you own a business, you’re an entrepreneur, you are somebody that needs an edge and a mindset that needs to change to increase profitability and productivity to increase satisfaction in what you’re doing to maybe ratchet down being the superstar, being a successful business person sometimes can be enough. Gene Zannetti and his brother are somebody that can help you with this. This is not just about life, sports, and business. This is about more than that. That’s for sure.
Gene, let’s talk a little bit about those you have influenced with what you’ve been doing. I would love to hear a story about somebody, whether it’s an eight-year-old kid that ended up becoming an All-American Wrestler or a middle manager that ended up doing something great. Give me 1 or 2 of your greatest success stories. Give me the people that inspired you the most and that you are out there helping.
As I help people and keynote speak, I have customers that changed my life more than I changed theirs. Who are some of the most inspirational people that you’ve worked with and helped rise to the top? Who are some of the people that demonstrated an attitude that shook you to the core and you go, “God, I don’t know why this client came into my life, but I ended up getting more out of this guy than maybe he got out of me?” Does anybody come to mind?
I have worked with so many people over the years and not just me. We have great staff. We have 80 mindset coaches that work with us all across the country. It gives us a lot of latitude in matching up a client with the mindset coach that’s the best fit for them. It’s because we know from studies that the relationship between the coach and the client is three times as important as the intervention strategy that’s used.
I have a solid relationship and that’s key. We won’t know that intuitively, but it’s nice to see the numbers behind it. We’ve worked with the US Olympic teams. We’ve worked with about 30 UFC fighters. Andy Pettitte and Lance Berkman were coaching a baseball team in Texas. We’re working with them. We’ve worked at the number two archery team in the country and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
We spoke for the Huntington Learning Center, MassMutual and Northwestern Mutual, and Fortune 500 companies. A lot of times, it’s working with the kids. I have a good story of one of our wrestlers from Bergen Catholic, the top team in the state of New Jersey. The kid was placed in the state for the first time as a sophomore. It was an incredible achievement. He was feeling great. He didn’t have any pressure on him. Going into his junior year in September, his dad gives us a call. “My kid’s not enjoying the sport anymore.”
What’s going on here? It’s not that difficult to see what’s happening. Now, there are finally expectations of him. Before, he was able to compete free and have fun because no one expected anything of him. He enters the school year ranked in the state and the expectations are high. The dad told us he was not enjoying the sport. We told him to go on our mindset program and work with a mindset coach every week.
From September, October, November, December, January, February, and then the first week of March is the state tournament. For six months, he worked with the mindset coach. Fast-forward, he went to the state semi-finals, the biggest match of this young man’s life. A few months ago, he wasn’t enjoying the sport. He wasn’t having fun and feeling a lot of pressure. On the biggest match of his life, he’s in the corner with his coach smiling, laughing, and having a good time. I remember being in Atlantic City, nudging my brother, Jeff, saying, “Whether or not he wins this match, I’m happy.”
Here’s a kid who’s enjoying himself all this pressure that’s on him right now, he’s having a good time. Not only did he win that match, but he went on to pull off the biggest upset in the state finals and won the whole thing. He repeated again as a senior and he later went on to wrestle at Rutgers University. That was an exciting thing for me to see that. Also, seeing some of our athletes then go on to military academies and Ivy League schools.
Sometimes it’s not the glamorous win that people see. I’ve worked with an athlete. When I originally had him in seventh grade, he was struggling with an eating disorder. Working with him, we didn’t talk about sports for probably 6 to 8 months. I told him we don’t care. Let’s focus more on getting you in a good place, mentally healthy, and emotionally. Finally, when he was ready to speak about sports, we started talking sports. He ended up being a three-time state finalist and that’s not even the biggest accomplishment there with him.
He asked me to be a sponsor for his confirmation. I flew out to Wisconsin and got to stand by his side and his other brother who I worked with. I got to be their sponsor for their confirmation. It’s a much bigger accomplishment to me than a championship. Another great example is a wrestler who took top three in the state of New York Division I athlete. One of the things we worked on over the summer, aside from getting his mindset, he had a fear of swimming in his pool.
We worked on overcoming that fear. After the summer was over, we’re going in small steps. He wasn’t only stepping foot in his pool, but he was swimming in his pool. It was simple but it was a mental block for him. What he accomplished as a person is far greater than his accomplishments in the wrestling match because it was overcoming a true fear. That’s what’s exciting.
Your brother who is the priest, is he one of your little brothers?
The youngest brother. It’s myself and then two and a half years later, my brother Jeff and four years after him, my brother, Father Greg.
Was Father Greg the best wrestler of you all?
Yes. He was ranked in the top six in the country. He was a two-time academic All-American at Rutgers University. He beat multiple national finalists.
Did he wrestle at Rutgers?
Rutgers is no joke. It’s probably one of the toughest and meanest wrestling rooms in America. Do you agree?
They wrestled at the RAC, which is a beautiful athletic facility. After graduating from Rutgers, the RAC, he went to the Pontifical University to be a priest. That’s called the NAC in Rome. He went from the RAC to the NAC. While he was studying in Rome, he would take the train and travel 45 minutes to Ostia, which is the Italian Olympic training center. He was the workout partner of Abraham Conyedo who got the bronze medal in the Olympics out in Tokyo in 2020. The Italian coach wanted Father Greg to be on the Italian Olympic team but he had no desire to do that at that point. He wanted to become a priest.If you build virtue, you'll be successful at anything you do. If you focus on success, you might be massively successful but you can be depressed. Click To Tweet
It’s amazing what a calling can do and what a blessing it is. This could be a generic answer, but maybe not. Maybe we’ll find gold here. When you think about Father Greg, what was Father Greg’s attitude growing up as a kid, as your little brother? What’s the attitude he possesses that you most admire now?
He is the most disciplined person that I’ve ever met. That’s the bottom line. When he says he’s going to do something, he’s going to do it. When he was in high school, my brother, Jeff and I were at the University of Pennsylvania. We had a weightlifting program the strength coach gave us. We gave that plan to our brother. In high school, kids miss their workouts all the time. He might not have missed any lifts his entire high school career.
You think about how that relates to the faith. Once you enter the seminary, the first thing they have you do is link you up with the spiritual director. One of the pieces of advice that he was given was to make a holy hour. Basically, pray for an hour straight every day. I never asked him about this. I never wanted to put them on the spot, but I bet you, he hasn’t missed a holy hour in years or if he did, it was for a good reason. His discipline was there.
Growing up, he was a normal kid like anyone else. He wasn’t perfect. He had a girlfriend for three years. While he was at Rutgers, he read the Diary of Saint Faustina and he did a beautiful devotion, The 33-Day Consecration to Jesus through Mary, and changed his life. It also changed my life and my brother, Jeff’s life now to the point where we have a ministry and apostolate on the side called Spiritual Strength: Building Athletes for Christ. I’m running that exact devotion that changed our lives, the Consecration to Mary.
Is he a pastor or an associate pastor? What parish?
He is an assistant over there. He’s only a year ordained. He is at Basking Ridge at St. James in New Jersey.
Gappers, let’s get some money to St. James and put Father Zannetti’s name on it. He’s going to go, “What are all these checks doing here?” Hopefully, it will come from the show. Hearing about the spiritual strength program that you’re doing, I want to touch on that. Tell us what it is if people want to get involved or people want to look more at it. Is there a website? Give us a two-minute description. Who is your avatar? Who are you reaching? Everybody can benefit from it, but give us an overall of what’s going on and why it’s so awesome.
Again, the importance is to look at what’s the point of life. Ancient Greek always said, “Spirit, mind, and body.” People will say, “Be the total package.” Meanwhile, people might be strong in different areas of their life, whether it be sports, school, or business, but spiritually they’re weak, and deep down, they know it. They haven’t trained in that area of their life. It’s not like we can pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, like in other areas. In the spiritual life, it’s cooperating with the grace that God has given us. Most people haven’t spent any amount of time on that.
Being in a very atheistic and Marxist communist culture and education, we’ve been brainwashed to think like Freemasons and the like. We have gotten brainwashed out of ultimate reality. We need to be able to get back to who we are, why are we here, and how we build that spiritual strength. That was my attempt in our book, Spiritual Strength: Building Athletes for Christ. St. Paul said, “We’re not wrestling against flesh and blood. Run the race to win the prize. We’re not shadow boxing.” He has so many athletes and sports analogies. We’re building an athlete for Christ. We try to help you do that.
St. Paul’s is one of my favorites. I can’t get enough of him. We’re going to go ahead and wrap up this interview with something called Knowledge Through the Decades. What we do is we walk through your life a decade at a time and ask you what the attitude lesson is that you learned as you go on. You don’t seem like a very old guy, so this probably won’t take long. When you think about birth and being born, what is the attitude lesson of birth?
I was born in 1984, but the lesson from my kids is you learn what it’s like to truly love someone unselfishly. I look at that as a foundation. It’s all built on love and family, and inextricably linked there is faith.
I want you to think back to being ten years old in the 3rd or 4th grade. What was the attitude lesson you learned at ten?
It’s interacting with people and learning how to get along. I could see some leadership qualities developing even then, great relationships with family and friends, and getting more socialized.
You are at UPenn at twenty years old. Do you remember turning twenty? Do you remember my birthday? What was the attitude lesson at twenty?
Leading up the gap between 10 and 20, it’s a hardcore focus on crushing goals, having high expectations for yourself, and giving your life to something. That is what wrestling was from that period of time and that would carry me through my early twenties.
You became 30. You’re not 40. This will be your last one. Tell me what the attitude lesson was at 30 or near 30.
In my 20s to 30s, it became being entrepreneurial and business. It’s focusing and taking my love and passion for wrestling psychology and making a career out of business. That’s the business there. Take it to the end from 29 to 30 up until the present where I’m 37. I’m going to be 38 in 2022. It’s getting things in the right priority and understanding my faith. I don’t think I’ve read a non-Catholic book in years because I’m obsessed with learning about the faith.
Once you get a taste of the most important knowledge, everything else seems flat and dry. I still love business and psychology, but if I had to choose what I’m going to study, I’m going to learn more about the faith. I’m going to dive deeper into my prayer life. Hopefully, that’s the end of the line. Not that my life ends but it continues all the way through.
Gene, one thing you’ll want to know is we had the Little Sisters of the Poor on the show. If you want to learn from Sister Agatha and Sister Marie Cecilia, their episode was unbelievable. Make sure you check out the show with the Little Sisters of the Poor. Those women carry the light. They carry it in a different way, but it’s so refreshing. As Catholics, we tend to get persecuted more than ever and people don’t get it, but we’ll stand strong in our faith. As long as people have faith, no matter what it is, it’s important that you get into a good Bible-based church and that you understand what love brings.
With that said, Gene, what I always love to do is have you from a global perspective talk to our Gappers. There’s somebody in their car, somebody is walking on a beach, or somebody’s walking their dog that is wrestling with things and is wrestling with, “How do I get from where I am to where I want to go? How do I get from who I am to who I want to become?” If you could give them your pep talk, your motivational speech, what is your message to them? What is your message of hope for our Gappers?The importance is looking at the point of life. Spirit, mind, and body are the total package. Click To Tweet
What do all high-level performers have? What do all Olympians have in common? They have a coach. It’s safe to say you’ll never optimize what you have if you don’t have a coach. When do I ask people what percentage of their success is physical versus mental or what percentage of their success is technical versus mental? almost everyone without fail in any domain will say your success is 90% to 95% mental. When you ask them about their preparation and their training, it’s the opposite. They say 90% to 95% physical was technical training.
If you want to be great and optimize, you need to work on that mental piece. You need to put a lot more time into your mindset and you will not optimize without having the help of a coach. It won’t happen. That’s why we developed a winning mindset. That’s why we put together a systematic program where you’re developing these mental tools. You’re learning virtue to help you and sustain you throughout all areas of your life.
Making it a point to get the coaching and getting help. Mindset coaching is not just for people who are struggling with something. We work on your weaknesses, but we also take what is working and we make it even better. You need to do both. Take the bull by the horns and put deliberate effort and deliberate time into your mindset and the best way to do it is by coaching.
When we talk about carrying the torch, we talk about carrying the light. The light, ladies and gentlemen, is mindset coaching and we hope that you guys all visit ZWinningMindset.com. It could be the light and the energy that carries you to bridge the gap from what you’re trying to do. Gene Zannetti, that was awesome. I learned. I feel like I grow. God bless you. We’ll pray for you. I’m a daily communicant as well like your grandfather. We are going to affect some people with this show. Thank you so much for being with us.
Thanks for having me. God bless you, too.
- Spotify – Get Attitude Podcast
- Diary of Saint Faustina
- The 33-Day Consecration to Jesus through Mary
- Spiritual Strength: Building Athletes for Christ – Linktree
- Spiritual Strength: Building Athletes for Christ – Amazon
About Gene Zannetti
Co-founder Gene Zannetti graduated with a Psychology degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He has two masters degrees; one in Sport Psychology and the other in Clinical Psychology. Gene is a certified School Psychologist, Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. His masters degree thesis (Perfectionism & Anxiety) has been published in the International Journal of Wrestling Sciences. Gene was a nationally ranked All-Ivy League wrestler at UPenn.