The Winter I turned an age when most people would think that it is way too risky to learn to ski, I attempted to learn to ski. I admit I was white-knuckled, but I followed every skill technique and listened to what our instructor said was the most important lesson.
“Whatever you focus on, that’s where you will go.”
That was simple advice and I followed it. As a result, soon, I graduated from bunny to big girl hill and a new, more advanced instructor. His advice was, “Whatever you do, don’t look at those trees on the left. If you go off the trail you could crash into one of those trees. Don’t worry though, whatever you focus on, that’s where you will go”
Unfortunately, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t focus on anything but the trees and that’s exactly where I headed. Rather than crash into the Pines and careen down the edge of the mountain, I chose to intentionally face plant permanently ending my skiing career before it even started.
For a lot of us, what we focus on day to day in our business is very much like me on skis. When it’s easy, we can focus on the things that lead us to a place of growth. But growth always involves a measure of fear, uncharted territory, and the risk that we will fall or fail. Those very distractions, if we are not disciplined and intentional, cause us to lose focus on what we want, dramatically increasing the odds that we will suffer a professional face plant.
The brain science behind this focus phenomenon is in large part due to the area of the brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS is a bundle of nerves at the brainstem that filters the millions of bits of environmental data or stimuli which is information received by your conscious mind. Your words, mindset, environment, and the images of your goals and dreams (vision) have a powerful influence on your brain’s filtering system. We literally see our lives through what is filtered in or out by the RAS and brought into our conscious awareness based on what we are looking for, trees, or trail. On a deep level by focusing on what we are afraid will happen, we are using our brainpower to lead us toward our fears.
For my ill-fated skiing career, my negative focus was the beginning of the end. I was hyper-focused on the dangers ahead and to rescue myself from what may have happened, I self-sabotaged.
Your brain is a powerful tool in driving you towards the best possible outcome. Focusing on that frees that incredible resource in between your ears to get you safely, thrillingly down the mountain, and energized to get back up and do it again.
Right now, would be a great time to focus on the good stuff just ahead.
Cathleen Mancino is a Sales, Life, and Leadership Coach. To inquire about how to work with Cathleen personally or as a team, reach out here on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/coachcathleenmancino.