Relentless: 5 Lessons in Mental Toughness from the Legend Tim Grover
relentless by tim grover

Relentless: 5 Mental Toughness Lessons to Go From Good to Great to Unstoppable (Summary of “Relentless” by Tim Grover)

“Tim Grover knows more than anyone about the mental side of sports. This book is the blueprint for discovering what you are capable of achieving, getting results you never imagined, reaching the highest level of success – and then going even higher.”

- Kobe Bryant

reletless book summary

Tim Grover is an absolute legend.

If you’ve never heard of him, he’s the guy who helped Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and other Basketball champions get to the top – and most importantly, stay at the top.

He’s worked with hundreds of top athletes and is an international authority when it comes to sports performance and motivation. As Kobe says, he knows more about the mental side of sports than anyone else.

In his book Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, he shares his insights into the mindsets of the most successful and accomplished athletes of our time. He shows us what it takes to go from good to great to unstoppable.

Looking for more great books? Download our free recommendation guide '20 Books That Shaped Our Thinking'.

What Does it Mean to Be “Relentless”?

“The word relentless is used in sports to describe the most intense competitors and achievers imaginable, those who stop at nothing to get to the end result. In sports, being relentless is measurable by victories and trophies and championships and rings.”
“In real life, being relentless is a state of mind that can give you the strength to achieve, to survive, to overcome, to be strong when others are not.”
“The ability to be relentless is in all of us.”

Tim Grover has a name for truly relentless people…

Cooler, Closer, Cleaner

“Cooler, Closer, Cleaner… good, great, unstoppable.”

Tim Grover calls truly relentless and unstoppable people Cleaners. It’s his name for the ultimate competitors and achievers who refuse to be satisfied with just trying or merely giving it their best.

Coolers are good. Closers are great. Cleaners – people such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade – are unstoppable.

The book is all about giving us insights into how Cleaners think, walk, talk, behave, and act. It’s about showing us what makes Cleaners unstoppable so that we can choose to become a Cleaner ourselves – if we choose to do so and are ready to pay the prize.

“Cooler, Closer, Cleaner… good, great, unstoppable. You can be whichever you want. If you want to be unstoppable, you’ve got to make the commitment.”

Let’s check out 5 distinct mental attributes that help us become a Cleaner:

1. Take Responsibility

Relentless Book Summary Bolt
“They’re completely focused on taking responsibility and taking charge, whether they’re competing in sports or managing a family or running a business or driving a bus; they decide how to get the job done, and then they do whatever is necessary to make it happen.”

If you aspire to be a cleaner, take responsibility for everything in your life. You’re in charge, always. You own this. You got this.

Are you working on a group project? Good, it’s your responsibility to make sure that project succeeds. It’s your sole responsibility. You’re in charge. You own this. You got this. If you fail, you take responsibility also.

Something goes awry in your business or job? It’s your job to clean up the mess. You’re in charge. You take responsibility. You own this. You got this. You get it done. You fix it.

Are you playing in a team sport? You’re in charge of making sure your team wins the game. You own this. You got this. If you lose, own it.

Cleaners take control over their lives. Whatever they want to have happen in life… they take full responsibility for making it happen… and ultimately, they make it happen, period.

2. Drop Your Excuses

stop your excuses
“Want to know a true sign of a Cleaner? He feels no pressure when he screws up and has no problem admitting when he’s wrong and shouldering the blame: When a Cooler makes a mistake, he’ll give you a lot of excuses but no solutions. When a Closer makes a mistake, he finds someone else to blame. When a Cleaner makes a mistake, he can look you in the eye and say, ‘I fucked up.’”

Made a mistake? Don’t sugar-coat it. Don’t look for excuses. Don’t blame other people. Own it.

Develop the confidence to say when you’ve screwed up – people will respect you for it.

Next time you’re making an excuse, catch yourself. Admit it to yourself that it was your fault. Take responsibility for it. Own it.

3. Stop Looking for Secrets, Tricks, or Shortcuts

“People are always asking me about the secrets and tricks I use to get results. Sorry if this disappoints you: There are no secrets. There are no tricks. If anything, it’s the opposite: Whether you’re a pro athlete or a guy running a business or driving a truck or going to school, it’s simple. Ask yourself where you are now, and where you want to be instead. Ask yourself what you’re willing to do to get there. Then make a plan to get there. Act on it.”
“There are no shortcuts.”

Instead of looking for get-rich-quick-themes, secrets, tricks, wonder pills, or shortcuts… buckle up your sleeves and get ready to do the work.

Whatever you want to be, do, or have in life… here’s Tim Grover’s formula to get there:

  1. Ask yourself: Where are you now?
  2. Ask yourself: Where do you want to be instead?
  3. Ask yourself: What are you willing to do to get there?
  4. Make a plan to get there.
  5. Act on it.

Stop looking for the shortcut. Do the work…

For more info on getting what you want, check out our friend Cornel Manu's article over at ambitionoasis: ​How to Get Anything You Want in 2017 (5 Easy Steps Action Plan)

4. Do. The. Work.

do the work
“Sorry, there’s no off-season when you’re serious about being a winner.”
“Just show up, work hard, and listen. That’s your part of the deal. Do the work.”

Remember, Tim Grover has coached some of the most successful basketball players in the history of basketball.

And guess what: these players were also the ones who worked the hardest.

Coincidence? Absolutely. Fucking. Not. The best players don’t work harder because they’re successful. They’re successful because they work harder than anybody else.

Want proof? Here’s a lesson on hard work Tim Grover tells about Michael Jordan:

“After every game, I used to ask Michael one question: Five, six, or seven?

As in, what time are we hitting the gym tomorrow morning?

And he’d snap back a time, and that was it. Especially after a loss, when there wasn’t a whole lot else to say. No discussion, no debate, no lame attempt to convince me he needed the morning off. You good? I’m good. See you in the morning.

And the next morning at whatever time he’d decided, he’d awaken to find me standing outside his door. No matter what had happened the night before – good game, bad game, soreness, fatigue – he was up working out every morning while most of the other guys slept.”

Putting in the work while others are sleeping? Reminds me of Will Smith:

“I’ve never really viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic. You know, while the other guy’s sleeping, I’m working. While the other guys’ eating, I’m working.”

- Will Smith

What about another basketball legend, Kobe Bryant?

Guess what he did on the day he was drafted? He went to the fucking gym to practice – while the others went out to celebrate.

That’s how you excel at your craft.

By putting in the work.

5. Push Yourself

“Every day, you have to do something you don’t want to do. Every day. Challenge yourself to be uncomfortable, push past the apathy and laziness and fear.”
“Bottom line if you want success of any kind: you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Every time you think you can’t, you have to do it anyway. That last mile, the last set, the last five minutes on the clock. You have to play the last game of the season with the same intensity as you played the first. When your body is screaming and depleted and telling you, ‘No way, asshole,’ you work harder and tell yourself, ‘Do it. Now.’”

Every day, challenge yourself to be uncomfortable.

Every day, push yourself past your own mind-created limits and soon your old limits become your new normal.

That’s how you grow. By pushing your boundaries and expanding them.

Think about it:

When you never have to take on anything harder than your daily routine, why would anything change? If you do the same thing over and over and over again, why should anything change? By definition, when you do the same thing over and over again… it stays the same.

If you lift 5 pound dumbbells day in day out for the same number of reps and sets… you’ll stagnate pretty soon.

And that’s what happens in most people’s lives: they stagnate… because they never push themselves beyond their safety and comfort.

To grow, you have to go to your edges (because as you meet your limits, your limits will expand.)

Start applying this to all kinds of life situations:

  • When you think you can’t study anymore, push yourself for another 5 minutes.
  • When you want to skip today’s meditation session, push yourself to do it anyway.
  • When you’re thinking about eating that piece of cake, push your willpower muscle and resist the urge.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Do the work. Own it.

A Lesson in Relentlessness from Tim Grover

lessons in relentlessness from tim grover

Read this, you’ll thank me:

“If you come to me to drop weight, you better have your last meal before we get started. I’ve got five weeks to get you in shape; we’re starting the minute you walk in the door, and if you don’t cheat, if you don’t swipe a few fries off your Buddy’s plate or sneak a few beers at your cousin’s wedding, you’ll drop twenty pounds in the first three weeks. I’ll give you the meals, I’ll give you a list of everything you can eat and everything you can’t. I’ll send someone to cook for you. I’ll sit down with your wife or mom and explain how much sugar is in the two gallons of orange juice you’re putting down every day. But you have to follow the rules.
Believe me, if you really want to know what someone is made of, watch them go through sugar detox. This isn’t a ‘low carb’ diet or Atkins knockoff; we’re talking zero sugars. And since most people have no idea how much sugar is hiding in most foods, I give them a written guideline of what they can and can’t eat, with a warning that says, ‘You’ll know the program is working when you get a headache right behind one eye and you want to throw up.’ Within the first two days, they twitch, get hot and cold sweats, terrible gas, crazy thirst, and then they get shakes that only heroin and cocaine addicts can understand. I’m taking every ounce of sugar out of your body for ten days. After two horrible days, it starts getting better. And if you cheat, I’ll know.
A guy will come into the gym during his detox and I’ll ask how he feels. Fine, he says, just fine. Hmm.
Next day I ask him again: How ya feeling? Feeling great, no problem, he says.
I give it one more day. Feeling okay? Following the diet? Yep, all good.
Okay, you’re a fucking liar. You want to screw this up, do it somewhere else. I know it’s not easy, but you can’t stay in your comfort zone and expect results. Challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. We can’t help people committed to failure.”

Love it.

That’s relentless.

Compare that with how most people approach losing weight:

“But I don’t want to sacrifice anything. I still want to eat delicious foods. Isn’t there a shortcut? I don’t want to do any work. Just hand me over the wonder pill. Oh, but those supplements are expensive. I don’t know if I can do that. I am so hungry at times. Do I really have to work out? Isn’t there an easier way? Blah, blah, blah… I’m such a little bitch.”

Society trains us to behave like a bunch of fucking 5-year-olds. Anything that demands a little bit of work and discipline is too hard. We’ve become so soft it’s a wonder we’re even surviving as a species.

Thankfully, there are guys like Tim Grover who show us that there’s another way.

Where to Go for More

If you enjoyed these ideas, you can learn more about Tim Grover and his work by visiting his websites below.

I strongly recommend you check out the book. It offers great insights into the mindsets of the most successful and accomplished athletes of our time.

What do you think of these mental attitudes? Too extreme? Just right? I’d love to get your opinion on it – just leave a quick comment below, thanks!


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Nils Salzgeber

Recovering online gaming addict. Recovering procrastinator. Recovering perfectionist. Recovering heroin addict (ok, this one’s not true!). Meditator. Arsenal FC Fan.

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