In 1999 I was a senior in high school and I had a huge opportunity in front of me. I was about to play in the Maryland State tennis championship tournament. I had been playing tennis competitively for the past nine years. I had hit a bunch of forehands bunch of backhands overhead volley serves all the strokes. I had spent years practicing but there was something that happened when I played tournaments. Sometimes I would do really well and I would win matches. And then there were times where I would lose to players that I could have beaten. I couldn’t tell the difference in my performance. Why did I win sometimes and lose other times?
There was something crucial that was missing which I wasn’t aware of. Up until this tournament. So here I was about to play in this tournament that I was seeded number two which means I was expected to come in second place. But I knew I could win this tournament. I knew I could be the Maryland State tennis champion and my mom found this ad in the newspaper. This was back in the day before the Internet was super popular. She found an ad in the paper that was for a sports psychologist. She called her and I ended up going to her house which was about 20 minutes away from my house and meeting with this woman, C.J. Lockman. I would go to her house weekly for several weeks. I sat on her couch and we would talk about mental strategies to improve my performance. We would do things like visualization where I would picture myself winning the Maryland State tennis tournament and not just picture it. I would feel it.
I would rehearse this vision over and over again even at home before I would go to sleep at night. I really would get into the feeling of it. We also did things like anchoring technique which is a quick way to shift your focus. And for me and what we talked about a shift is fixing my strings so I would look at my racquet and I would fix my strings to trigger a positive emotion and get me back into focus. And we also used techniques such as mantras where I would say positive things about my forehand works perfectly and smoothly and we would talk about how many times I had hit a four forehand how many times I had a backhand so on and so forth just really reminding myself that I had the ability to win and becoming the woman that could win this tournament. I spent a lot of time mentally preparing for this tournament and then the day arrived where the two where it was time to play in the tournament in Baltimore, Maryland. This was in May and the weather was beautiful. The sun was out.
I won the first couple matches pretty easily as expected. And then I was in the finals. In the first set I went down three games to one and I went back to my strings. I started to focus. I got into tune and I turned it on and I got into the zone. I was hitting forehands angles coming to the net. I had a whole strategy there and I won the next five games and I won the first set 6-3 and I went on to win the second set 6-2. I easily won this tournament it was the first tournament I had ever won like a breeze and the amazing thing was I was calm throughout the entire tournament. I wasn’t nervous. It was I had mentally prepared so much that all I needed to do was show up as if my body already knew what to do and so it became very clear to me the difference in the experience of playing in this tournament in comparison to so many other tournaments’s that I had played earlier in my tennis career. I believe the most underutilized resource is within us and it’s our mental preparation.
Pick any area of your life that is not going as smoothly as you want whether it be your relationships or your health and what’s missing a lot of the time is that we haven’t actually set ourselves up with a strategy with how to utilize our internal resources focusing techniques you know the thing is is that it sounds so incredibly simple yet it’s so difficult to get focused especially in today’s world with so many distractions. Focus is the most important element of excellence. What’s probably getting in your way right now is that you’re not focusing properly. If there is an area that you’re stuck in is that you’re not focusing properly.
Let’s flip this for a moment. Think of an area in your life that you’re doing really well in and you’re happy about how much attention and focus do you give that area to your life. Now it might not seem like you give a lot of attention and focus to that area of your life becomes because it comes so easily and naturally to you because you naturally focus on what you want and care about in this particular area. So if you’re excelling in a certain area you’re doing a really good job at focusing and maybe even you’ve gotten to the point where you don’t even have to think so much because it’s become so natural to you the other day I was at one of my friend’s house and I was there with my son and she has three kids and her daughter who’s about eight or nine years old got a splinter in her toe and she was crying and saying, “Mommy my foot hurts. I’m in so much pain.” And she was focused on the pain in her toe and she was crying. And my son went to go give her a hug. In a moment she shifted from crying and being upset to oh and her face lit up because she saw my son approach her and hug her now it wasn’t that the pain in her foot went away but she shifted her focus and attention and it changed her state.
It was amazing to watch how quickly we can shift our focus and that’s where our power is. Today I want to invite you to hone in on an area that you’re not giving a lot of attention to. Maybe you’re thinking about the problems in that area and start to focus on mentally preparing yourself for success and creating positive images around that area of that you want to focus on and creating a positive mantra and shifting a thought a negative thought to a positive thought we can change our focus at any given moment. Tony Robbins says, “What’s wrong is always available and so is what’s right.” And it depends on where you put your focus on what you focus on you feel. So if you’re not feeling so great about something you can change your focus – that’s where your true power is.