Lionel ‘Leo’ Messi. Why mindset matters most.

17 July 2024, Wednesday


” Human Greatness is Success and Significance Sustained”






Last week on a near freezing Highveld evening, 80 000 fans crammed into the FNB stadium to watch Sundowns FC take on FC Barcelona – or was it to be in the presence of human greatness  – in the form of  Lionel ‘Leo’ Messi.

The stadium erupted when he came on with just 15 minutes to play. It all seemed worthwhile. Just to be there –  to catch a fleeting glimpse of arguably the greatest footballer of all time .

Human Greatness is indeed fleeting.

Few of us get the opportunity to perform at his level of greatness – true genius.

Here’s an extract from my most recent eBook which captures the magical inspiration provided by a kid  born into poverty in a small Argentina town called Rosario.

His story, like that of so many great athletes, is one of using his innate and gifted physical talents to both shield himself from hurt and deliver himself from a life of adversity, poverty, and struggle.

Lionel “Leo” Messi, reserved and unassuming, and a somewhat unremarkable man outside of football, has proved to most that mindset matters most.

Read more to find out why his brief visit to South Africa, sponsored by Patrice Motsepe, was significant for us as South Africans.

EXTRACT FROM  THE GAME CHANGERS : How to achieve your greatest potential

Forword by John Robbie





Game Changer Number One: Mindset Matters Most

  Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself makes you fearless. Lao Tzu

Have you ever wondered why your best made plans do not deliver on your desired results in life?

To answer this question, we go inside the high-level game plans of sporting greats like Lionel Messi and business greats like Elon Musk – to explore why it is that…

Mindset matters most.

Life is full of choices – and of the most important choices which you will ever make in life is that of chosen mindset.

There are only two options from which to choose:

 Victim or Victor?

You’re in the game and you cannot NOT choose. No middle ground exists.

Have you chosen the mindset of a winner, or the mindset of a loser?

Ask yourself: Who’s doing most of the talking on the inside?

Listen carefully to what you are telling yourself, as sport scientists have proven that the sub-conscious human mind cannot simultaneously store two opposing thoughts.

Never confuse the most important part of you – your subconscious mind. You cannot have thoughts of victory and defeat in your mind at the same time. The subconscious mind has the power to send sabotaging messages to your body. All it takes is one kernel of doubt.  David Becker

The power of the subconscious mind—the storehouse of our beliefs and thoughts—is simply immense.

It can be your greatest partner in success, or your most destructive partner in self-sabotage. Control the subconscious, or it will control you.

Your mindset, habits, and internal dialogue are potent determinants of your success or failure in life.

The quality of your thoughts is so important during these swims. If you start thinking, ‘Shit, I’m cold’, within a second it will be digging into you.Lewis Pugh

The great champions of life programme their subconscious with a winner’s mindset—that of a victor.

Average people often fall into the human trap of allowing the subconscious mind to adopt a victim’s mindset. And guess what happens next?

They disqualify themselves from the journey from good, to great, to greater.

If you allow any form of a victim mindset to play a role, your chances of achieving your own greatest potential in life will become near zero.

Victim beliefs will sabotage anyone’s best-made plans in life.

Let’s take an inside look at the mindset of one of sport’s greatest.

Lionel “Leo” Messi grew up in a small Argentinean town called Rosario.

His story, like that of so many great athletes,  is one of using his innate and gifted physical talents to both shield himself from hurt and deliver himself from a life of adversity, poverty, and struggle.

In so doing, he went on to become arguably one of the greatest footballers of all time—if not the best ever to play the beautiful game.

Yet, it could all have turned out so differently. At age 10, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Due to his country’s economic collapse at the time, no club could afford to cover his medication.

Lionel Messi departed for a trial at Barcelona, aged just 13. He was offered a makeshift contract on the back of a paper napkin, to join the academy.

Who would have thought that at age 29, standing just 5 foot six inches tall, he would go on to be regarded by many as the greatest footballer ever.

Disadvantaged in many ways by his short stature, Lionel Messi chose to leverage off his lower centre of gravity and focus his mind and energy on his greater agility, his greater balance, his greater speed, and his greater ball control.

Lionel Messi is the only player that runs faster with the ball than he does without it. Pep Guardiola

Lionel “Leo” Messi, reserved and unassuming, and a somewhat unremarkable man outside of football, proved to most that mindset matters most.

He chose to focus on his gifts and talents. He chose the mindset of a victor.

 Mindset makes champions.

Mindset sets champions apart.

Consider the mindset of arguably South Africa’s greatest sporting champion.

Arnold, Jack, Lee, Watson, and the rest were all physically larger, but I made myself so fit in the mind, I was larger than they were. Size is a state of mind.Gary Player

The great champions set up to win.

Consider the mindset of South African born clean energy technology entrepreneur, Elon Musk.

Bullied throughout his junior school years, life could have played out differently for him.

Today, he is regarded as the new “Steve Jobs” and is fast changing the way of the world.

Involved in diverse industries, there is only one common theme in his approach to business and life.

His mindset is what sets him apart.

Find out what is going to affect mankind the most in the foreseeable future. Find out what is not working. And go and fix it.Elon Musk

 Elon Musk is busy elevating humanity. At heart, he is a fixer.

Even when he nearly lost everything through the 2008 financial crisis, he carried on believing.

  • Elon wanted a new payment system, so he created PayPal.
  • Elon wanted an innovative electric car, so he founded Tesla Motors.
  • Elon wanted to give people the chance to go to space, so he created Space X.
  • Elon wanted high speed transportation, so he is developing Hyper Loop.

Elon doesn’t complain about how bad the world is. Instead, through his innovations, he is changing the world fast.

Consider the mindset of a guy who could not find a taxi ride in Paris.

His name was Travis Kalanick. And he went on to start the transportation network company, Uber.

Consider the mindset of a guy who could not afford to cover his rent in San Francisco.

His name was Brian Chesky and he went on to start the hospitality exchange service, Airbnb.

And finally, consider the mindset of a guy who spent 27 years in jail.



What if Nelson Mandela had chosen the mindset of a victim?


Key Insight

One’s best-made plans in life will prove meaningless unless they are backed up with the right mindset.

Wanting to take your team to the next level of performance, growth and contribution?

Rob’s breakfast talk – POWER UP YOUR GAME –  shares 11 potent GAME CHANGERS from inside the game plans of the greats of business and sport.

It’s part of Rob’s 2018 campaign to inspire and help ‘GROW SOUTH AFRICANS GREAT’

Book ROB to chat with your team .


Rob Opie is Brand Strategist, Speaker, Author, Performance Coach to corporate teams and Life Coach to individuals. For more insights and inspiration, visit  where you can also book Rob to talk to your team on his recently published book: THE GAME CHANGERS – how to achieve your greatest potential.