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The Quality of our Performance (and Our Lives) is Directly Related to Our Focus!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #96 – Watch or listen HERE.

As I look ahead to my FREE College Athlete Mental Training Workshop and the College Athlete Summer Mental Performance Training Program in June, I have been thinking a lot about the most important things to work on in the time I will have with the athletes.

The idea of our session(s) is to help athletes incorporate mental training into their summer physical training. That is where I will start and end. (Please share the links below to register with your colleagues and athletes...and HERE is a free session for you, too, coach!)

But what are the most important things to hammer home? What are the tools and topics that will move the needle the furthest?

Do I dive into building confidence, helping them understand that confidence may be more important than competence in some instances?

Do we talk about self-talk and how most of us would not talk to others the way we talk to ourselves and how that negative nelly in our head affects our performance?

Or do I talk about focus and how the ability to focus, or refocus, or more importantly, what we choose to focus on in each moment affects our performance?

This one got me thinking. How important is our focus on our performance?

I think IT IS EVERYTHING! And it pulls in the other stuff I mentioned, too!

I recently saw a post by leadership development guru, Jeff Janssen (who is awesome) that said, “your choices determine our success.” He went on to capitalize each word emphasizing each one, so the sentence read differently every time. The bottom line – every choice we make makes a difference for the team.

Let’s take that one level deeper.

If your choices determine our success, what leads to those choices?

YOUR FOCUS…our focus!

Those of you who have worked with a sports psychologist or mental coach have heard about attentional styles related to focus: broad external, broad internal, narrow internal, and narrow external.

It is important to understand where we need to be related to the four quadrants of attentional focus to assess, analyze, prepare and then act appropriately in our environment.

Being clear on what each of the four styles demands of our routines and habits will make us more proficient. Having a system of assessing, analyzing, preparing and then acting will make us more confident and consistent.

But to break down the importance of focus even more, let’s think about how important our THOUGHTS are and how thoughts we choose to focus on determine our results.

As author Bob Rotella states so simply in Golf Is Not a Perfect Game “if you’re not thinking about your drive going to the target, what are you thinking about?”

SIMPLE! Where is your focus when you are standing over the ball, at the plate, with the ball at your feet or at the foul line?

If you aren’t focused on what you want to happen, what the heck are you thinking about?

I know what you are thinking about! You are focused on your mechanics. You are focused on the outcome. You are focused on what other people are thinking or saying. You are focused on your most recent failure. You are focused on that little voice in your head that whispers (or shouts) that you may not be prepared enough to do this.

And if your focus is on any of these, you will make different choices. And here’s a bulletin…they usually aren’t better choices!

You…we…are focused on a million things.

I do a simple exercise with teams where they must fend off things (soft things) being thrown at them while trying to complete a task. The “soft things” which I then continue to throw at them throughout the session are all these things that get our focus and take us out of our game!

I then ask them to forget fending off the bombardment of soft things and just complete the task, proving that trying to focus on things that aren’t directly related to the task at hand impedes our performance…drastically!

Each thing takes us away, even if it is just for split second, which in most games can be very costly to execution or decision making (especially since they say it takes us 20 seconds to refocus after a distraction whether internal or external).

We spend far too much of our focus on the things we think are being thrown at us when we should be focused on WHAT WE WANT TO HAPPEN.

Does focusing on what we want to happen make it so? No! But it increases the likelihood of it happening!

Focusing on what we don’t want to usually gives us just that. And unlike my team activity, these things aren’t being thrown at us, we are choosing to focus on them…we are consciously choosing to let them in! Crazy, isn’t it!

As I say to my teams and athletes when the waiter comes to your table, do you spend the entire time he is at your side telling him what you don’t want and expect him to bring you the meal you are craving?

HECK NO! YOU TELL HIM WHAT YOU WANT! And most of the time, you get what you want…or something pretty darn close!

Yes, we need to have a refocus technique (I am happy to help your team build those). We need to understand how to move from non-productive thoughts to productive thoughts. The important questions we can constantly ask are simple – “is this point of focus serving me right now…is this making me better?”

We can ask ourselves those same questions as we move through our day. So often my focus gets derailed by that doubting Thomas in my head, unresolved conflicts, past experiences, worries about the future, comparisons, etc.

Instead, I could choose to focus on my plans, my wins/successes…big and small, my pleasant experiences, my gifts, my many blessings, etc.

This ability to focus on the good, the productive, and the bright spots is what helps us perform AND LIVE at our best.

Maintaining focus in any game (or in our daily work) is like swimming upstream. We have to keep swimming (managing our focus) with purpose, or we will get swept away by the current.

Managing our focus takes intention. It takes training. But like anything in life, it becomes easier as we practice…and our brain helps us with a rewire that helps make it our MO!

Our ability to focus matters.

Our ability to refocus really matters.

Our ability to filter our focus matters even more.

Yes, we have to be able to dial it in and be single-minded to execute. But before we get there, where we go with our focus determines whether or not we believe we can execute in the moment.

Champions are selective about their focus. They are selective about what memories they bring with them from yesterday’s performance to today’s. They are selective in the thoughts that warrant their focus.

This is not to say that they ignore mistakes or the need for improvement.

As Rotella says, “this can sound a little like self-deception. But it isn’t. It is just the way that great athletes or successful people have trained themselves to think” and focus!

Please share the links below with anyone who may benefit from some work on their focus!

And if you would like to join me to talk about how you can help your athletes manage their focus and get the most out of their training, register HERE for a free workshop on June 15th at 11:00 am EST.

Until then, is what you are focused on moving you forward, helping your performance or making you better?

If not, ORDER WHAT YOU WANT or at least the good stuff you liked before!

Manage the moments and have a great week!


P.S. See registration links below.

College athlete FREE workshop – Click HERE

Focus and Peak Performance FREE workshop for coaches/leaders – Click HERE

SSB College Athlete Summer Virtual Mental Performance Program – Daytime – Click HERE

SSB College Athlete Summer Virtual Mental Performance Program – Daytime – Click HERE

Julie Jones

Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946

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