I recall an advertisement featuring an Olympic hurdler describing what she was thinking about when she was out there on the track.
It went something like this, “One, two, three four… JUMP!!!! One, two, three four… JUMP!!!!… What do you think, I’m reciting Shakespeare out here?”
I think we can all benefit from this advice, even though I do believe the world might be a better – if more confused – place if we all recited Shakespeare more often. What is a bodkin, anyway?
But back to my point, which, ironically enough, is all about focusing.
Focusing is a good idea at any time, but it’s especially important when you’re in the middle of a super-challenging event, such as a big report, a sales push or a job interview.
The next time you’re facing one of these, try thinking like a hurdler.
In the preparatory phase, let everything else go. Even Shakespeare. This is practical – because tough things require such concentration – and it also makes the whole thing more fun. There’s a rush in giving your all to something.
Then, when you’re in the middle of it all, keep thinking like an athlete. As near as I can tell, and this is based on my extensive experience of occasionally listening to commentary during the Olympics, they’re always trying to make sure their different body parts are doing what they should. You have to watch where your hips are when you’re doing a triple luge, especially if, for some unaccountable reason, you are wearing a bodkin.
Same thing when you’re in the middle of a big project. Make sure your different limbs are where they should be, although in the case of a big report, that could mean tracking the progress of gathering data, drafting and editing key elements and putting together an easy-to-read, professional-looking product.
Dropping the ball with xeroxing, or being late to an interview, is like catching your toe on a hurdle when you’re just about to clear it, and they definitely take points off for that.
The next step is the landing, and it’s very important not to confuse it with the last step. Only in gymnastic events are you supposed to take a step, throw your arms up in the air and arch your back uncomfortably.
In most other lines of work, there is no last step. You might or might not get a chance to take a breath before you’re off to the next thing, and there’s definitely no posing.
That’s why it’s important to land well. Make sure you’re balanced, recovered and ready for forward motion. Then get ready to jump your bodkins off again.
by Danielle Dresden