What’s on Your Mind?

Every Monday about 6:00 a.m., I receive an e-mail from Aegis 360 Consulting with a quote to ponder. Ned Parks, Aegis 360 owner, provides his take on it. This week’s quote was from Michel de Montaigne, a French Renaissance philosopher.

“Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.”

And Ned’s note was:

Start thinking about what you want and see how fast you get there.

It brought to mind several things, one of which was a conversation with my son about teaching his seven-year-old daughter how to shoot at the soccer goal. She repeatedly hits the upright on the goal—just inches away from being a goal. She’s democratic about it; it doesn’t matter from where she is shooting.

This, in turn, brought my soccer coaching days crashing in from my episodic memory when I came to realize how I had set up my players to not score. As any player was about to take a shot, I would shout, “Shoot it where he’s not! Shoot it where he’s not!” The “he” (or she) being the goalkeeper.

To my frustration, dismay and puzzlement, every player shot it right at the goalkeeper, who, of course, either blocked the shot or caught the ball.

It wasn’t until years later while sitting in a Human Effectiveness workshop when I heard a quote from Wayne Gretzky, one of THE greatest hockey players of all time:

“I don’t see the goalie; I only see the back of the net.”

that I realized what I had done wrong. My words, “shoot it where he’s not,” had caused my players to focus on the “he,” the goalkeeper, not the open net, and their little feet merely followed their brain’s instructions and kicked it right at the goalkeeper. They had no choice.

Fast forward a few more years and a quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer brought it home for me:

“What you think about expands.”

Dyer uses the word “really” to progress from simply wishing for something to having a passion for it. The “really” progression (or the four reallies as Dyer calls it) is:

Really 1– wish (quietly want something)
Really 2– desire (openly ask for it)
Really 3 – intend (will bring this into your life)
Really 4 – passionate (unquestionably want it)

He cautions to be careful what you really, really, really, really want because you will bring it into form. Likewise, he warned, be careful not to think about what you really, really, really, really don’t want because you will bring that into form also.

Back to quote by Michel de Montaigne at the top. When we wish so intently to forget something, all we are doing is firmly writing it on the blackboard of our mind.

In sports, when a player messes up, they may say something like “my bad.” That’s the wrong thing to say because all that does is focus you on what you did wrong. You know you messed up; your teammates know you messed up. Why etch it a little deeper into the granite of your psyche?

Why not focus on the future and what you want and say something like “next time,” which is a social commitment to getting it right the next time. Your teammates then know you’re committed to getting it right and your head is “in the game.”

When my two oldest grandchildren were learning to ride their two-wheelers, one was definitively focused on “riding the bike” while the other focused on “not falling.” On one level, that sounds like the same thing. In reality, it was not. Which one do you think excelled at bike riding? Yes, the one who focused on “riding the bike.”

So, what are you thinking about? What sticks in your mind all day long, day in and day out? Is it what you want…or what you don’t want? The two aren’t the same. And the consequences of your thoughts won’t be the same either.

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