In a recent conversation with a friend of mine about the viability of an admittedly audacious business dream, a disparity emerged on the optimism – pessimism spectrum. It lead me to reflect on my musings about the influence our attitudes and views on future events have on real outcomes.
On February 25, 2003, an episode of the popular sitcom Frasier aired in the U.S. entitled Fraternal Schwinns.
Pressured to participate in, rather than just contribute to, an AIDS fundraising bike ride, Frasier (played by Kelsey Grammer) and his brother Niles (played by David Hyde Pierce reveal that they never learned to ride a bicycle. Niles’ wife Daphne (played by Jane Leeves) offers to teach them both in the park.
Frasier is afflicted with constantly riding straight into a sycamore tree and the dialogue goes something like this.
Frazier: “It’s that damn sycamore; it’s got a magnetic hold on me.”
Daphne: “That’s because you keep focusing on it. Whatever you do, put it out of your mind. The more you think about it the worse it gets”
The take-away reveals that what we focus on is what we will likely achieve. Let me use another bicycling example – not a surprise to those who know me. If you ever watched a pro bicycle race in the high mountains, it is almost beyond comprehension how well the twisty descents are handled at high (be it momentarily reduced) speeds. A couple years ago I attended a training camp that focused on climbing and descending skills. While climbing requires muscle and respiratory training, successful descending requires a skill I call fast-forward looking. Navigating downhill around an almost U-turn on a switchback is accomplished by focusing your eye on the line you want the bike to travel through the turn and where it is you want the bike to go – not on a fixed point directly in front of you. The reason for this is because if you focus on a fixed point in front of you, you will be on that spot within fractions of a second without any thought given to what lies ahead. At the speeds obtained going downhill (gravity effects pros and amateurs alike) there is no time to plan where to go next and panic ensues. On the other hand, if you focus on the path ahead where you want to go rather than a fixed point you will more safely and successfully navigate your way to your overall destination. Applied in business, once we commit to a course of action, we risk failure by focusing too much on why or how we might fail. We should instead stay focused on where it is we are trying to go – the road ahead. This only furthers to case for focusing on the positive. Things will go wrong – just don’t focus on what you fear might or could go wrong.
Are you playing to win or playing not to lose? Any successful athlete knows which mindset works best. Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” If you focus attention on what you want to avoid you will inevitably hit it. Don’t run your business as if your trying to avoid failure. Identify the path you wish to follow and as they say in cycling, Hold your line!
I wish a wonderful day to all!