I heard a perfect metaphor last night: effectively tackling goals is like skiing. (Shoot-that’s a simile. Oh, well you get it right?) Now, I don’t personally get it…at all, but I understand the idea behind it.
When you ski, or so I’m told, you don’t jump off the lift and stare at the bottom of the mountain. In fact if you’re really good you can’t even see the bottom of the mountain from the top. Even though the bottom of the mountain is your ultimate destination, your goal if you will, you don’t set your sights on it. Instead, what you do is concentrate 20 feet or so ahead. You set out knowing what you want to do, but you focus just ahead on moguls or ditches (what are ditches called in the snow) trees and other skiers and you amend your path as you need to in order to stay strong, fast and safe the entire way. You act and then reassess and adjust all the while feeling the cold air in your face and the smooth speed beneath your skis. (Wow, I made that sound pretty nice for someone who abhors cold weather sports huh?)
My husband asked me the other night about softball. See, I was good at softball back in the day. I mean like all DC Metropolitan good. Not first team, but still. I was the pitcher for my team and I did my job well.
So he asked me about softball and what I was thinking or doing on that mound. The truth? I wasn’t thinking anything. I was seeing where I would put the ball. I was seeing where the ball would end up. I never saw a hit. I only saw a bat swing and miss. I was certain, every single time I threw the ball that it would go exactly where I wanted it to. When it didn’t, I was not permitted to leave the field and take a few practice throws. I did not stop the game to dissect my performance in order to perfect it before I threw another pitch.
No, I just started over and threw again-expecting the same perfect results I expected when I threw the first pitch. History didn’t matter. The other players didn’t matter. Who I was didn’t‘ even mattered. What I saw and the work I put in to make my vision complete mattered-that’s it. The ultimate reason for my success, even after all the hard work and practice is that I saw myself throwing strikes. I expected to get batters out-single handedly. It didn’t always happen, but it happened a lot. I didn’t visualize the scorecard and I didn’t focus on the end of the game. I didn’t worry about what other people would do. The goal of course was a winning score when the game ended, and of course my teammates’ performance mattered. But just like a good skier who’s goal is at the end and who’s performance is affected by others on the mountain, I only focused about 20 feet ahead-on the task at hand. My tasks would get me to my goal and that was all that mattered.
Are you staring too far ahead? I was. Are you allowing your far-sightedness to stall you or intimidate you or muddy your thoughts? I was.
Not anymore. I don’t look too far ahead now. I don’t allow what might be to stall my progress. I don’t care if I didn’t do it right before. I don’t care how far away I am from the end. I don’t care if I am not entirely sure of the strategy for the entire game or if I don’t throw strikes every time. I get up every morning and do what needs to be done to get me where I need to go. I focus on the task at hand, knowing that my tasks will ultimately lead to my goal.
I planned it that way. I visualized it that way. Now I will focus on what it takes to get there.
Visualizing is powerful. I had forgotten that. Doing what it takes, no matter what, is powerful. I forgot that.
I am powerful. I forgot that for a long time too.
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