Pursuing Excellence Series Part 3: Focus
Developing a Soldier’s Mind To Reach Your Highest Potential
By Dee Josey
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular. ” -Tony Robbins
The third element to developing the mind of a soldier is to focus fully to your mission.
Have I lost you already?
Once you are committed to your mission and believe you will succeed, you must channel all your energy into that mission. Some call this being “in the moment.” Others refer to it as “mindfulness.” Whatever term you choose to use, full focus is definitely a key part of being a strong soldier.
Every single task given to us in the Armed Forces required us to be focused. Rifle marksmanship is a great example. Our weapon is the most important issued item. Every soldier is expected to be proficient in firing their assigned weapon and are tested every year to ensure this standard is met. Army soldiers mainly train on an M-4 rifle. To properly engage a target, we are taught to obtain a steady firing position, aim our weapon by aligning the target in our rifle sights and focusing our eye on the sight picture (see image below), control our breathing, and squeeze the trigger. It may sound simple, but it takes much focus and practice to become proficient.
Positive Imagery Time
Think back to when you first learned how to drive a car. I know for some of you reading, it may be difficult to recall, but really focus and try to imagine that time. Remember how foreign that felt and how many steps there seemed to be? You had to align your mirrors, put on your seat belt, put a key in the ignition and turn the key (those were the days), step on the brake and remember which petal was the brake, shift the gear, let go of the break, etc. Do you remember how much focus and control that took to learn? Surely there were moments of frustration and mistakes, but you stuck to it and found success in that task. Driving has become second nature; we become so proficient at this task that we have learned to add more complicated things to it, like texting (we recommend that you don't do this).
Coach, How Do I Focus On My Goal?
Ahhh, little guppy, with questions like that, you shall soon become a mental soldier. Every goal can be broken down into fundamental skills.
(Read in the voice of Mr. Miagi)
Your ability to execute any task (wax on) is dependent on your ability to focus appropriately (wax off). Thus, every skill you practice gives you the opportunity to also practice the skill of focus. You must be committed to mastering this skill (wax on). You must believe in yourself (wax off). You must learn to connect your mind with your body (wax on). You must trust yourself to perform as you have been trained to perform--with excellence (wax off). Where your focus goes, everything else follows. (NOTE: if you have not watched Karate kid, now would be an appropriate time.)
Find Your Zone
Have you ever been “in the zone” before? It’s that feeling of nothing standing in your way from conquering the world. This is full focus.
Side note: Right now, I am in the zone as I write this blog about focus.
All your attention is directed at achieving your task at hand. Every ounce of energy is expended on that task. When you are in the zone, you are concentrating hard on your priorities, and nothing is able to knock you off track.
According to Orlick (that sports psychology dude from the first blog), “Focusing refers to the ability to concentrate totally on what you are doing, seeing, reading, hearing, learning, feeling, observing or experiencing while you are engaged in the activity or performance.”
Think about that 12 month goal you set for yourself. Are you still working towards it? If not, now is the time to refocus on that goal. Are you focusing on accomplishing that goal regardless of what it takes?
If your goals is losing 50 pounds, are you being mindful about what you are eating? Are you making movement a priority in your life? Are you seeking professional coaches who can assist you on this journey (ahem...I know a couple very qualified ones)? Are you practicing this consistently?
If you want to be a more loving spouse, are you making time to send your loved one a little “thinking about you” message? Are you prioritizing quality time with your boo over time spent at work?
If you are not focusing your priorities around your goal, now is the time to do so. The same way you focused on learning how to drive and I learned how to fire a weapon, full focus is necessary to learn, grow, and accomplish any goal. You just have to put your mind to it.
Stay tuned in to our next segment on: Pursuing Excellence: Use Positive Imagery
What to do Today:
Stay focused on the task at hand.
Do something today that works toward your 12 month goal.
Keep your belief that you will succeed in this goal.
Stay committed to becoming a soldier.
Ready to perform to your greatest potential?
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Surround yourself by like-minded people.
Become stronger, mentally and physically.
Establish sustainable habits for long term results.
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