How Focus Affects Your Goals
December is the month when many people assess their goals over the past twelve months in addition to creating new ones for the upcoming year. The key to achieving your goals is to focus on your actions and behaviors, and not get distracted with what others are doing.
John Wooden was arguably the most successful college basketball coach of all time. As head coach at UCLA, his teams won an incredible ten NCAA championships over a twelve-year period, including seven in a row from 1967-1973.
One of the most amazing facets of Wooden’s coaching was how little emphasis he gave to scouting his opponents. While most teams employed an advance team of scouts to watch upcoming teams, discover their weaknesses and generate a report on how to take advantage of them, Wooden considered it little more than an afterthought. Wooden’s philosophy was to spend the time, energy, and resources improving his team. His goal wasn’t to play to beat the other team, it was for his team to play at their best. Then, it didn’t mater what the other team was doing, his team would be unbeatable on their own.
Being preoccupied with what others are doing can distract us from our goals. There is a great picture from the 2016 Olympics of the 200-meter butterfly finals between Michael Phelps and Chad le Clos. Four years earlier, le Clos defeated Phelps in a close race for the Olympic gold medal. Leading up to the 2016 Games, le Clos frequently mentioned Phelps in interviews, and seemed more focused on Phelps than he was the gold medal. In the picture, you see both athletes swimming; Phelps is focused on the finish line, while le Clos has his head turned focusing on Phelps. It’s no surprise who won the race that year.
There can be a lot learned from the long-term success of John Wooden, and the failure of Chad le Clos. Do you spend your energy and effort focusing on how you can make yourself better, or do you waste those resources worrying about what others are doing? When you take your eyes off the finish line, you lose sight of your goal.
As we approach a new year and new goals, focus more on the areas within your control. You cannot control what others think, say, and do. Instead of focusing on what others are doing and the things out of your control, invest your energy on the things in which you can make a direct impact. This will increase your productivity and help achieve your goals.