It didn't take long. It only took one frightening slam to the ground for me to get the lesson. It was like an all-powerful hand came down and slapped me off my bike to the ground. I was riding my motorcycle off road, and I was approaching a rock right in the middle of the trail. Super slick and a huge hazard. I said “I definitely wanted to avoid that.” So, my brain concluded: clearly what there is to do is keep your eye on it so we can miss it. And what happened? I slammed right into the rock. Off the bike resulting in scraped skin, sore hip, a broken mirror and a bruised ego. I hit the rock not because I didn't see it, but because I focused on it. I didn't focus on where I wanted to go, I chose to focus on where I where I didn’t. This is what we do, whether we’re riding a bike or going through our day.
The brain has this ability to steer us towards the things we focus on. It is an incredibly valuable ability which allows us to unconsciously do complicated tasks in the physical world with seeming ease. And, we can leverage this same focusing skill to be more productive, effective, positive and happy.
Hitting a target you’re trying to avoid is called Target Fixation, or "Where you look, there you will go." This is a cautionary training. If you enter into a tight corner too fast, and you focus one where you fear you will go off the road, then it's likely you'll go off the road right there. If you see a hubcap in the road, and you keep looking at it (so you can avoid it), it's likely you'll hit it. If you’re threading between two close objects and you focus on one of them, that’ll be the one you hit. The lesson: be careful what you aim for.
On a “normal day” we are bombarded with thoughts, feelings, opinions (ours and others) and a steady stream of information. The loudest will be the one we focus on. If you find yourself frustrated, unhappy, procrastinating or angry, it’s likely that you haven’t chosen a destination for your day and some “rock in the trail” has you. Like when the palpable bad mood of a co-worker infects your perspective, the loud stress felt by your boss effects your energy or the sucking sadness of another has you feeling the same way.
Creating a morning ritual where you decide your day’s destination is critical. Like any good road trip, we need to know our destination so we can choose our route. If we don’t have a destination in mind, we may drive anywhere, because anywhere is as good as anywhere else.
Start your day, everyday, knowing where you want to go, or who you want to be about it. Is it a mantra? A quality? A measurable goal? What would serve you best, today? Don’t play small, you can change the WORLD with your choice. Just try it!