Mindset Made Simple Tip #54
Have you ever been looking at something while driving and all the sudden you are headed straight toward it?
It happened to me all the time when I ran with my group of guys during my time at Cleveland State University.
We would be running along and all the sudden I would lock eyes with a driver who was then making a b-line in my direction. He or she saw me…and apparently wanted me to run a bit faster for a few minutes! This is just one of the reasons you ALWAYS run TOWARD traffic (your public service announcement for the day).
This whole concept of “we go where our attention goes” was top of mind for me as I drove my family from Ohio to Florida to visit my sister. We normally fly, but last year we drove due to the pandemic, and we got tricked (because there wasn’t any traffic or construction – I now know).
This trip was a bit more challenging. There was lots of traffic, an accident that closed the highway for a while and construction galore!
Even so, it was well worth seeing my sister and her kids after a long year!
But back to focus (I lost mine for a second there).
As I was driving it made me think about how our focus – how we control our attention or where we are focused - affects our performances.
When driving a 12-hour trip (that turned into 16), you play all kinds of games in your head to make the time pass.
To keep my mind occupied, I started to notice my own focus and made some mental notes on my driving performance in different attentional states.
When I looked directly in front of the car or too far ahead, I wasn’t my best behind the wheel. Other times I went with the flow of traffic and found myself allowing the traffic to determine my pace and path.
When we are performing, whether in practice, competition or any type of event that requires our attention and focus, if we look down at the road right in front of us – or think about each tenth of a mile as we are driving it - we won’t function well.
Thinking about every move without trusting that we can advance without hashing out every step will make us slow, and ultimately ineffective. We will be choppy and unable to adjust to what is ahead.
Similarly, looking too far ahead can be just as detrimental.
Looking too far down the road does not allow us to notice the brake lights in front of us or the cars to our side which may become an issue if we need to change lanes! Anticipating the outcome before we get there takes us away from the process and keeps us in a perpetual state of “what-ifs.”
Finally, when our mind wanders, we don’t realize that we have gotten away from our game plan and are inadvertently driving 55 miles per hour with the flow of traffic…or going 95 with the flow (I’d rather this happen than the 55 mph situation 😊). We may even end up driving in someone’s blind spot (this used to drive my assistant crazy on recruiting trips) or driving in the middle of a pack of cars and trucks, which increases your chance for accidents.
To be at our best we must have a plan to keep our attention where it needs to be to finish our task most efficiently and effectively.
According to research, our mind wanders AT LEAST 47% of the time.
If this is the case, your attention probably wandered while reading this at least 3 times (maybe more!).
Looking at our next step, looking at the end game, losing focus at any time will happen.
The question is, how do we get back on track when we fail to trust our preparation, look three plays ahead, worry about the outcome or just wander off to la-la land?
Fortunately, our focus is like a muscle. We can train it.
The more we train it, the better we get. It’s called neuroplasticity. New pathways are formed and we get faster and faster at reeling in our focus.
I am sure you have used these before, but concentration girds are a great way to help us build those new neuropathways.
Search for 00 – 100 and see how long it takes. Set a timer for a short period of time and see how many you can get in 7, 15, 30 seconds (you choose). Or add in distractions and make it a competition.
At some point as you work through, make a little checkmark on the side of your grid each time you notice your focus moving from the task at hand. As you practice more, are there fewer checkmarks?
How many times did you look for a number that wasn’t the next one? (Planning ahead may benefit you, but taking your attention away may end in passing up what you are searching for next).
How often did you think back to what you did and allow it to affect what you are doing right now?
All these things happen as we perform. If we become more aware of them and practice getting back to business, we get better at it.
Plain and simple!
We can also make a plan on how to avoid pitfalls once we are aware of when we tend to wander too far ahead, to close to our nose or too much in our own head.
Training our attention makes us better, just like training our bodies does. In fact, failing to train our focus may keep us from reaping the benefits of all our physical training.
I may need to throw in a concentration grid before we head home so I can be where I need to be when I need to be there on the road…and as often as possible!
These grids can be used for anyone…no matter what age or goals. My son and I do them in an attempt to extend his attention span past the millisecond that it is 😊.
Training our focus can benefit us in so many ways. It is proven to save time and money.
It helps us be more effective with our P's of peak performance!
We will be more present and more positive since we are living in the now. It keeps us working through our process (that has been practiced in our preparation). And if we are controlling the other P's, we are more confident which is portrayed in our posture!
Staying focused isn’t easy, but a bit of training can make for a smoother drive!
Have a great week!
P.S. As you plan for 2021-22, don’t leave mental performance to chance. Let me help you implement a plan as detailed as your daily practice plan. Let’s set up a time to talk about how we can build your team’s mental toughness. Give me a call or text at 234-206-0946 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org