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The 4 "F" Words of Focus on the Fourth!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #102 – Watch or listen HERE.

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Last week we talked about finding the silver lining in the tough stuff that comes our way. Even though we know that obstacles are opportunities, moving past that initial moment of disappointment, frustration or embarrassment can be very difficult.

One of the hardest things about facing obstacles, whether it is fear or anything else that threatens to hold us back, is how we talk to ourselves through the tough times.

Because we are wired with an innate negativity bias, we are much more likely to look for the problems within the problem…and rehash that problem in our heads and with others ad nauseam… than to look for the bright spots that may shine through.

Even so, we noted last week that we get to choose how we manage everything that comes our way. And with a little work and a good plan, we can circumvent our instincts to ruminate, rehash and perpetuate the negativity in our minds.

As Confucius said, “we can curse the darkness, or we can light a candle.”

But, boy, doesn’t cursing the darkness just feel better sometimes?

And how is it possible to be positive in the face of adversity or our own stupid mistakes?

How do we find good in the fact that your friend on the other team stole the ball from you three times as your dad yells from the stands “how many times are you going to let her do that?” To which you promptly reply from center court “shut up, Dad!” (Snippets from a true story that took place on a basketball court in Akron in the late 80s).

No one ever said we have to celebrate our adversities!

What has been said is that we need to choose to learn from them and succeed anyway!

But to learn, we must move through that initial feeling of disgust, disappointment, fear…whatever it may be. (As a side note, telling your Dad to shut up from center court is not a system. It is taking your life into your own hands 😊!

To move on, we need a practiced system that takes us from a non-productive thought, feeling or action, to a productive one.

Notice I did not say “positive.” It is a stretch to label some things as positive in the moment!

I use POSITIVE as one of my 4Ps of peak performance but have recently adjusted it to POSITIVE/PRODUCTIVE.

My thought is if we have a productive thought, feeling or action, this is moving us in a positive direction…which, in turn, is positive (even if it doesn’t feel like it a the time!).

To do that, my mentor, Dr. Susan Ziegler who served as Sports Psychologist at Cleveland State University (and to many amateur and professional athletes and teams), suggests using the 4 F’s Words to manage our thoughts, feelings and actions.

She shared them with us at CSU and Akron as follows:

1. “Fudge” (or you choose the F word you like 😊) - Here she says it is okay to recognize that something happened that you don’t particularly love. Let’s not pretend all is well. Acknowledge it and let it out! The trick is, we can’t stay here for long…especially if the ball is moving to the other end of the field/court quickly! If you hang your head, you lose an opportunity to do what you need to do next!

2. “Fix” – Here we are taking a moment (even a second will do) to replace the undesirable thought, feeling or action with what we want. We can picture the shot, swing or skill we want and fill our minds with a productive vision.

3. “Forget” – Now it’s time to get our body and mind to move on. Take a deep cleansing breath and let it go with the exhale. Pick up dirt and throw it like Aaron Judge. Talk to yourself like ‎Estelle Czech. Do what you need to do to get past the moment and on to the next play.

4. “Focus” – If we aren’t thinking about the shot we are about to take, then what the heck are we thinking about? If we aren’t present, we aren’t going to be very good. It’s time to redirect our focus to the task at hand…and W.I.N. (what’s important now).

I like these F words because they start with the reality that we aren’t expected to love our mistakes. There are no parties thrown for screw-ups and how will we ever improve if we don’t acknowledge that we can do better?

BUT, if we stay in a frustrated, disappointed, embarrassed or pissed-off state of mind, we are losing the opportunity to perform at our best. We can be all these things…for a second…and then it is our job to “fix” it.

Fudge is a reaction to an event…it is the R in the E+R=O. If we use it the right way…by acknowledging that we made a mistake so we can learn from it and do better the next time, it is a productive reaction.

Fixing it is also a reaction. It is a choice to see what we want. Remember, we never enter a restaurant and tell the waiter what we don’t want and expect them to bring us the dish we are craving! But we expect to get what we want when we constantly run the “don’t screw up” narrative in our head.

Forgetting is hard! We notice threats much more quickly and they stick with us longer than good stuff. A mistake is a threat to our ego and more.

The ability to let it go is a skill that must be practiced. The next time you are sitting in traffic or driving down the road and start to worry about all the stuff waiting for you at the office, take a deep breath. Exhale long and slowly. See how it makes you feel. I promise you will feel better because you have just brought yourself back to the present and you can see what you need to do next…which is to keep your eyes on the road!

Finally, our ability to focus is critical to our success. What just happened cannot be changed, but what happens next can and we have a much better chance of making it go our way if we are focused on our next best move…and not our last not-so-great one!

As I have mentioned before, our focus is key, but our ability to refocus is the game-changer. We will get distracted by what goes on around us and inside of us. The key is being aware of our diversions and get back to the now! We need to be where our cleats are!

So let the 4 Fs help us fulfill Confucius's advice. We aren’t pretending that the darkness doesn’t exist – “Oh, fudge!

We will choose to light a candle as we fix and forget what brought the darkness to us and focus then on the light ahead!

Manage the moments and have a great week!


P.S. Please remember to register and share the link below with your colleagues.

July 12 @ 12:00 pm EST – It Starts with You, Coach! FREE workshop for coaches and leaders – Click HERE

Julie Jones

Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946

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