New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!


Julianne Hough, Ray Lewis, Shawn Johnson, and Novak Djokovic

How Champions Win

Find the winning balance

You hear so often that people get to the top of the mountain and realize that the summit isn’t the answer.

To be a champion, you have to know that there is so much more to success than a final outcome.

If you focus on the goal without being connected to your joy and larger purpose, you will get burnt out.

But when you’re coming from a place of passion, the results will fall into place.

To explore this topic further, I gathered parts of conversations with four world-class champions who’ve visited The School of Greatness in the past: Julianne Hough, Ray Lewis, Shawn Johnson, and Novak Djokovic.


“Nothing is ever about the score.” @ShawnJohnson  

Julianne Hough is a two-time winner of ABC’s Dancing with Stars and now sits as a judge on the show. She’s one an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography and has appeared in many movies and TV productions like Footloose (2011) and Grease Live on Fox.

Ray Lewis is a former NFL linebacker. He is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Super Bowl MVP and played his entire 17-year career with the Baltimore Ravens.

Shawn Johnson is a gymnast who won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics for balance beam and a silver medal in floor exercise and all-around. She’s also a five-time Pan American Games gold medalist.

Novak Djokovic is a Serbian tennis player is currently ranked third in men’s singles. He’s won 14 Grand Slam singles titles and four Wimbledon titles among many more.

These athletes have achieved the immense success in their fields and have all realized that being the best is not enough of an end goal to give them purpose.

So learn how these champions get in the mindset to win on Episode 707.

“The primary motivation needs to be what inspired you to start playing.” @DjokerNole  

Some Questions I Ask:

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Why being content won’t ruin your drive (10:30)
  • What Ray Lewis learned from joining ESPN (13:40)
  • Why Ray Lewis thinks he was able to play football for so long (14:10)
  • What people can do to win even if they get second (14:56)
  • What helped Novac Djokovic get through a breakdown (21:04)
  • Plus much more…

Transcript of this Episode

Lewis Howes:                 This is episode number 707, on How Champions Win.

Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now, let the class begin.

Sammy Davis Jr said, “You always have two choices: Your commitment versus your fear.”

And I want to ask you this question: Are you allowing your fears to control and consume your life on a daily basis? Does your fear of success, failure or your fear of judgement hold you back in a major way of taking the actions you need, every single day, to build that momentum, to build that belief, that confidence in yourself to get out there and achieve what you want in your life?

If your fears are holding you back, it’s time to eliminate those fears, it’s time to, actually, embrace them! Move into them, and say, “You know what? It’s okay if I fail, because that’s where I’m going to learn, that’s where I’m going to get the lessons to improve things, that’s where I’m going to get the feedback I need, to take a different action towards success.”

And, “It’s okay if I do succeed,” because some of us are afraid of success – the weight, the pressure, the responsibility that success comes with – it’s okay because you were born to succeed. You were born to achieve. You know, when you just live a mediocre life, that saying, that you don’t believe, “You’re here for a reason,” and you are here for a reason.

And the fear of judgement, if that’s holding you back, if you’re afraid of what other people are going to say about you; that they’re going to say, “I told you so,” that they’re going to make fun of you or you’re going to be embarrassed, that judgement, you’re focused on your ego more than on impact.

So, you’ve got to stop focusing on the fears and start focusing out. Focus on, “How can I make the biggest impact on the people around me?” And when you come from that place, that mindset, that’s how you build the foundation to be a champion. That’s how you develop a winner’s mindset and allow you to win at the things that you’re going after in life.

Today we have and incredible episode, where I’ve got some of my favourite guests who are talking about this championship mind, and how champions win, and how losers lose. We’ve got Julianne Hough, we’ve got pro-bowler, Ray Lewis, we’ve got Olympic gold medallist, Shawn Johnson, and the man who is on fire right now, Novak Djokovic, one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

In this episode we talk about why you need to take the time to appreciate he moment and the process. So many of us are focused on the end result and we allow all this fear and insecurity and doubt to hold us down, as opposed to focusing on one step at a time.

We’re also going to cover, the reason you need to be proud of yourself. I hate when people are constantly doubting themselves. They do something that they should be proud of and they say to themselves, “Well, it wasn’t that big of a deal,” or they can’t take a compliment, or they can’t receive when someone says, “You did a great job.”

If that’s you right now, then this is important for you, how being proud of yourself will actually bring more opportunities your way.

We talk about how fear and doubt will keep you from making the choice that will lead you to success. If you are suffocated by fear or doubt or insecurity, you are unable to achieve what you want. Self-esteem is one of the most important factors to success.

If you have no self-esteem, if you doubt yourself constantly, why would anything good come your way? You’re just going to sabotage yourself, if you have no self esteem. We talk about the reason you shouldn’t be keeping score and why what you feel is what matters the most.

I am so excited about this one! Make sure to share with your friends, Tag me on your Instagram story as well, because I want to connect with you, if you resonate with this as well.

Before we dive in, a quick thank you to our sponsor, LightStream. Now, if you are feeling like you’re overwhelmed, financially right now, and you’re using multiple credit cards at once, and you’ve got these high interest rates, then you should think about refinancing with a credit card consolidation loan from LightStream.

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Again, a big thank you to our sponsors. And without further ado, let’s dive into this episode on How Champions Win.

* * *

Julianne Hough:             I was thinking about why I wanted to be an entertainer when I was a kid, and why I wanted to be an entertainer now, and the meaning was so different.

Lewis Howes:                 What was it when you were a kid?

Julianne Hough:             When I was a kid, it was, like, “It’s so much fun!” I was, like, “This is awesome! This is so fun, and people are laughing and we’re just having a good time, and we’re being creative.”

And then, as I got older, I realised I wasn’t having fun any more. I was just trying to get the next thing, and what the next part of my career was going to do for my career and the success of that and being the most important person, and all those things, where I knew, underneath, that I still loved to do everything that I did, but I was doing it for a different reason.

Lewis Howes:                 A lot more pressures.

Julianne Hough:             Oh my gosh! And I never felt successful at anything that I did, and I was never good enough, and all these different things.

Lewis Howes:                 Really? Wow!

Julianne Hough:             And people would find that hard to believe, and I would be like, “Yeah, well, I’m not there, yet.” And they were, like, “But, look at what you’ve done!” And I’d be, like, “Yeah, but it’s not enough.”

Lewis Howes:                 So, how would you feel when you would, you know, you won Dancing With The Stars a number of times, or when you’ve come out with a new record, how would you feel when you released something or you won something or you checked it off the list, or the movie came out, how would you feel?

Julianne Hough:             “What’s next?” Yeah.

Lewis Howes:                 So it was never, like, appreciating the moment.

Julianne Hough:             Never.

Lewis Howes:                 Being grateful for this, excited, just like, “This isn’t enough.”

Julianne Hough:             Yeah. Well, I mean, when I won Dancing With The Stars, trust me, I was on a high. I was, like, “Oh, YES!!” But then a day later I was like, “Okay, what’s next?” And, “I have to have my music career, and I have to have my acting career, and I have to have this and that and that.”

And when I got through all that, and I realised what I was doing in all four, and I kind of came back to my ten-year-old self, which was, like, “Let’s go have fun and enjoy it! And have a good time!” I ended up feeling like the most successful person.

And I was, like, “Wow! Look at everything that I’ve done!” and, “I’m so proud of myself!” And I think that’s really hard for people to say, because it’s hard to say that you’re proud of yourself.

One, because you’re afraid of what people are going to think. Are they going to think that I’m cocky? And it’s like, “Screw everybody else and what they think of me! Am I proud of myself? Yeah! I’m proud of myself!”

Lewis Howes:                 That’s good! I like it!

Julianne Hough:             Yeah! And everything is just better now, and I find that I’m getting more things that are just coming in, and it’s that kind of energy where you’re just being and you’re just living and you’re just enjoying things, and then you find that you’re attracting more things that come your way, and more success, or however you define it.

But, yeah, life is just great right now.

Lewis Howes:                 Amazing! I’m excited for you! It comes across that way, too. It doesn’t seem like you’re stressed or you have any weight on your shoulders, you’re just, like, “Let’s have fun!”

Julianne Hough:             Well, yeah, and I would notice that a lot. I’d always take deep breaths, like, “Oh, I’m overwhelmed and I need to do this,” and, “Why am I not that person?” You know? I would compare myself to people all the time, like, “Why am I not there and they’re there? And I’m doing what I can and I’m trying so hard.”

And now I’m like, “That’s the point, I’m trying so hard.”

Lewis Howes:                 Just be.

Julianne Hough:             Yeah! Just be. And be authentic and real, and I know it’s easy to say that, but when yuo can find it and you feel that feeling, you don’t ever want that feeling to go away. That’s almost the addiction, now, for me. It’s not that I’ve lost my drive, but it’s the, it’s like  – sorry, I’m all tangenty right now, I’m all over the place.

Lewis Howes:                 Don’t worry, go ahead!

Julianne Hough:             But it’s like I used to hate feeling satisfied. I used to say that if I ever felt like I was content, that was the worst thing in the world. And so, then last year I started feeling content, and I was, like, “Uh-oh, does that mean my drive’s gone?”

Lewis Howes:                 Your hustle’s gone, your drive’s gone.

Julianne Hough:             Yeah, my hustle, because I used a lot of the negativity that happened in my life, to prove myself, to show what I’ve gone through, and I got rid of that, and then I was, like, “Is my drive gone? Do I not have the same…”

Lewis Howes:                 Like, “I just want to relax on weekends.”

Julianne Hough:             Yeah! And what I realised was that it didn’t go away, it actually just made me more calm and peaceful, so that I was really more able to go and be passionate about the things that I loved when I needed to, and then I could turn off.

* * *


Ray Lewis:                       Wins and losses come a dime a dozen, but the battle will never be different, and that is, you versus me, and when a man physically feels you thrust into them, they know what intention you come with.

So, every night, I had to get to a point of releasing worry, releasing doubt, releasing fear, that’s why I studied so much. I studied so much, because when I go, I’m gone! You can call it how you call it, but when I go, I’m gone.

And that’s what, you know, it started to become such a spiritual battle, because I used to be playing the guys, and they’d be like, “Come on, Ray, don’t talk to me like that!” I ain’t got no other choice. I’m here, this is pure battle. This ain’t no disrespect to war. War and battle is different, right? But it is, it’s battle.

Like, it’s you taking you body up into nine surgeries. It’s like you taking your body and you’re saying, “I’m going to go try this one more time,” and, “One more time,” and, “One more time.” Play after play after play after play.

Lewis Howes:                 Seventeen years.

Ray Lewis:                       Oh, bro! And I used to go into hotel rooms, and people would tell you, I don’t leave my hotel room for nothing. Walk downstairs to the meeting, back upstairs to my room. I don’t need to see the city, I don’t want to go out in the city, my head is down.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow.

Ray Lewis:                       This is what’s crazy, that’s what I’m telling you, no disrespect to the game, I cheated life so much, because I was so serious about the game, that I walked in – I’ll never forget it – Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, all these places, I walked in these places and I promise you, while I was playing I never knew what thy looked like.

Lewis Howes:                 The cities, yeah.

Ray Lewis:                       Never! My head is down, the whole time!

Lewis Howes:                 You’ve got the headphones on. The hoodie.

Ray Lewis:                       Everything! I’m tuning everybody out. And only until I joined ESPN for a few years that I started to travel in these cities and I’m, like, “Wow! Cincinnati is beautiful! That’s why people live here!” And then I started to realise, “Man, there is more to life,” like, “Ray, you’ve got to come out of this shell.”

And my oldest daughter said to me one time, she’s like, “Daddy, you finally let go.” I said, “What do you mean?” She says, “You laugh all the time, now.” Because when I was playing…

Lewis Howes:                 You didn’t smile much at all, right?

Ray Lewis:                       My kids, man, my kids, I took my kids through a lot, because my kids were like, “Daddy’s pissed off. Daddy’s always pissed off.” You know, I played with them, and I did my thing.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, of course. But it wasn’t the sense of free joy.

Ray Lewis:                       Right! Because I knew, I knew that every week, I had raised them and trained them to never be outworked. Never be outworked. Lewis, I didn’t stay around because of my athletic ability. I stayed around purely because my effort was way higher than everybody else’s.

* * *

Lewis Howes:                 How can people going into big events, or big goals that they have – obviously we have expectations of winning, we want to win – but how can they set themselves up to win, even if they lose or get second? What are some things they can do emotionally, or psychologically, do you think, that you’ve learned, people can do?

Shawn Johnson:             Yeah, well, something that kind of saved me and kept me sane through that whole process is, I grew up with my coach and I started training with him when I was five, and he taught me, from day one, that nothing was ever about a score.

So, when I competed, I was never allowed to look at a score, rankings, scoreboards, nothing. I mean, I studied those afterwards, just learning the science and, kind of, the math behind the sport, but it should never, or he taught me, it should never drive your performance .

Lewis Howes:                 Interesting.

Shawn Johnson:             So, when I got to the Olympics, having that kind of ingrained in me, the scores didn’t necessarily matter, but that final result of the medal, I wasn’t used to, so it kind of made me look at the scores and reflect on how I was judged, but that made me go against everything I’ve been taught my whole life.

And so, when I learned to push that away, and go back to, “It’s not about the scores, but it’s about how you felt you did, how much effort you put out, your performance,” I could go back and look and say, “I did the best I possibly could.”

And my validation, as well, with finishing my last routine and seeing 50,000 people and they were standing on their feet. I mean, it’s things like that that mean more than a score or a medal.

Lewis Howes:                 I just got chills!

Shawn Johnson:             Yeah, you know in your heart, too, I mean, how well you’ve done, how hard you’ve worked. I mean, there’s no greater reward, or judge, than your conscience.

Lewis Howes:                 Sure. Man! Well, how has it affected you in the decisions you’ve been making since then? Have you been ever second guessing yourself when you’re doing anything? You know, like Dancing With the Stars, were you second guessing yourself in that? Or when you went back to compete, did you second guess yourself? Was that the London Olympics? What Olympics was that?

Shawn Johnson:             London. I don’t think it’s changed anything in the way of second guessing, but I would say, I feel like I’ve made every decision differently than I would have, had I not gotten a gold.

Lewis Howes:                 Really? How so?

Shawn Johnson:             Because it’s no longer about winning to me. I feel like, and I use the word winning in the sense of, like, it’s not about money, it’s not about being the top at a business, it’s not about living in the biggest house.

I kind of took that away from my life, because I got there and realised it didn’t matter, and so, I butt heads with some people sometimes, some friends, some agents, I mean, all these people who are still driven by that.

But, for me, it’s about the worth that I feel in my heart, which, again, is a lesson I learned back then.

Lewis Howes:                 It’s about the balance, it sounds like. The winning balance, right?

Shawn Johnson:             Yeah. The winning balance! I’ve really rearranged a lot in my life, just over the past few years, just trying to get more things in my life that made me feel good, instead of trying for a reward that didn’t mean anything.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah. What have you done?

Shawn Johnson:             What have I done?

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah.

Shawn Johnson:             For me, I’ve tried to, on a daily basis, just admit, openly admit that I’m not sixteen any more, I’m not at the Olympics, I’m not that person. I feel like a lot of the perfectionism issues I have is comparing myself now, with who I was then.

Lewis Howes:                 Interesting. It was six years ago, right?

Shawn Johnson:             Yeah. It’s six years ago today!

Lewis Howes:                 Today? The Olympics were today?

Shawn Johnson:             Today. My gold medal was six years ago today.

Lewis Howes:                 Shut up! It was not!

Shawn Johnson:             Yeah! It was!

Lewis Howes:                 Oh my gosh!

Shawn Johnson:             August 19th

Lewis Howes:                 Shut up! Wow! Serendipitous!

Shawn Johnson:             I know, right?

Lewis Howes:                 I just got more chills!

Shawn Johnson:             That’s my lucky number, by the way, nineteen. Because I won my gold medal on the nineteenth, I was born on the nineteenth, and I won Dancing With The Stars on the nineteenth.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow! Interesting!

Shawn Johnson:             Right?

Lewis Howes:                 But you were sixteen when you won it.

Shawn Johnson:             But I was sixteen. Yeah, I would say, what I’ve done is…

Lewis Howes:                 Over the last six years.

Shawn Johnson:             Over the last six years.

Lewis Howes:                 You’ve admitted that you’re not at that same place any more.

Shawn Johnson:             Yes, and that I never will be. And that’s fine. And to accept that that’s normal and that’s good, has kind of been my progress, you know? Back when I was sixteen, every little thing about me back then was judged by a coach, or someone, an individual, and me now, comparing myself to when I was sixteen, I see those same qualities.

I’m like, “I need to be thinner, I need to look like what I looked like when I was sixteen to be able to be accepted by the world,” which is kind of what you’re taught back then. So, kind of learning to put that aside and admit that past is past. And the only thing you an better of yourself right now is who you are right now, and who you’re going to be tomorrow, because you can’t change yesterday.

* * *

Novak Djokovic:             I had this upward kind of spiral and trajectory in my tennis career, in my life, and everything was great. And then, all of a sudden, I had this period of two-and-half, three years, where I didn’t win a Slam. I was managing to be three/four in the world, but I just struggled a lot.

And, for me, being number three in the world wasn’t enough. I just was not satisfied with that. And I would always go back, and say, “Okay, wait, when I was seven, eight years old, my dream and my life goal was always to be number one and win Wimbledon. That’s it. And I need to achieve that, no matter what.”

But then I reached a kind of mentally low point in my career, I think it was after Roland-Garros, one of the four Slams, and I had lost, I was two sets to love up, I lost in five sets in quarter-finals against a guy called Jürgen Melzer, he was in the top ten of the world, very good player, but I had a match and I just lost.

I just had a breakdown. I remember going to my parents and talking about this and that, and I just cried, and, “I don’t know if this is worth it. I don’t know if I should keep going,” and my father was, like, “Toughen up! Toughen up!” You know?

But it wasn’t enough. I felt like I needed to think about it more. I felt I needed to share more. So I went to my coach at that time, Marian Vajda, and one of my best friends in life, and my former physiotherapist, Milan, and I was in the room, and I remember sitting on the floor.

Again, I had another breakdown and I was saying, “Oh, I don’t know,” and they were like, “Okay, take your time. Let’s first breath and let’s calm down. Let’s look back,” and they were really wise for telling me that, “Let’s go look back first. Why did you start playing this sport and the whole thing? Do you love it?”

You know? “Leave aside what you want to achieve, what you want to do. Do you really like holding a racquet in your hand?” And I’m like, “Actually, I do! I love holding a racquet in my hand, whether it’s a Grand Slam Centre Court finals, or whatever, or it’s just a normal public court, I still like playing for the sake of playing.”

They were like, “Well, that’s your source. That’s what you need to tap into. And take a little bit of time.” And, literally – they thought it was going to take a few weeks – the next day I’m like, “Okay, I’m back on track. Let’s go! Let’s keep going!”

And I never looked back, ever since that moment. I remember the next tournament was Wimbledon, I probably played finals, and then, after that I won Davis Cup with my country, with my guys, end of 2010. That was one of the highlights of my career. And then, after that, I went into having 43 matches win in a row, and with that streak I became number one.

Lewis Howes:                 How long was that for?

Novak Djokovic:             It was like, almost six months.

Lewis Howes:                 Six months, you didn’t lose one match?

Novak Djokovic:             Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Lewis Howes:                 You lost a set, but not a match, right? Not a game. Holy cow!

Novak Djokovic:             Yeah, it was McEnroe and myself, we hold the record for the longest streak in history.

Lewis Howes:                 You tied him?

Novak Djokovic:             Okay, so if you go online, it’ll say, “John McEnroe 42, Novak Djokovic 41.”

Lewis Howes:                 Oh no!

Novak Djokovic:             Why? Because they didn’t count the two matches of the guys that retired, the matches to me, so they didn’t count them as wins. Then I would have had the 43. But, okay, John, you have it, you have it, John, okay, you have it. So it’s John.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow! But that’s got to feel amazing! You were just in the zone!

Novak Djokovic:             It was unbelievable and it just gave me wings. I felt, all of a sudden, that I started to play and play freely. Between winning the first Slam and that moment, it was three years, and I felt like I was playing for the wrong reasons.

I was playing because I wanted to achieve, I wanted to this, I wanted to lift trophies, I wanted to do this and that. And that’s okay, but that’s secondary. Primary, so to say, motivation, needs to be what inspired you to start playing? What made you fall in love with the sport?

And that is the love, the joy, the passion for it, to play it. I, all of a sudden, became the kid that I was when I started. I had so much power and energy and I just…

Lewis Howes:                 You would dance, you’d play.

Novak Djokovic:             Exactly, so I never looked back after that.

Lewis Howes:                 There you have it, my friends! I hope you enjoyed this episode, How Champion Win. I thought this was powerful! If you loved it, then message me and post this on your Instagram story right now  with the link,, you can tag me @LewisHowes.

I want to hear from you, I want you to share this with your friends. Text it to a couple of friends you think will find it powerful as well.

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Again, Sammy Davis Jr said, “You always have two choices: Your commitment versus your fear.”

Create a new commitment today! Be committed to overcoming that insecurity, that doubt that you have and put yourself out there. It may feel painful, you may get embarrassed, you may fail, you may fall flat on your face, and it’s going to sting and hurt.

But the only way you’re going to grow, is through failure. That’s the key, guys! That’s the answer. The one who can experience more embarrassment and more emotional pain than the other, is the one that, typically, learns how to overcome that challenge and be secure with themselves.

When they realise that, “Hey, I’m still alive, there are people who still love me and care about me, no matter how much I fail. And, in fact, the more I fail and put myself out there, I’m going to inspire more people around me, because at least I did something.” So, do something today, make a commitment, versus living in your fear.

And, as always, you know what time it is: It’s time to go out here and do something great!

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