“Take your eye off the ball is bad advice in sports, but a great metaphor for the biggest barrier to success. When a football player is seeing his end zone celebration before seeing the ball safely in his hands he is likely to see the ball on the ground. “Hearing footsteps” refers to a situation where a player anticipates getting hit by the opponent, loses focus and makes an error. We might say the player “takes his ears off the ball.”
A tactic in basketball is to do something like a head fake or a look-away pass to cause the opposition to focus on the wrong thing. A player with the ball can cause a momentary distraction with a simple turn of the head. In the diagram below, Ronnie (44) had the ball in the corner. Before passing it to Zach (20), who was headed for the basket, he turned his head left toward the stands and fired the ball to Zach on his right, who caught the perfect pass and made the easy basket. Here’s the interesting part of this particular play. Who or what was on Ronnie’s left to look at? He’s in the corner, where there is no basket and no other players to pass to. Still, the defender froze, lost focus for a fraction of a second, and allowed the ball to get by him. Loss of focus, even briefly, can be a game changer.
These examples illustrate the importance of short-term focus. Now, let’s consider focus from a long-term perspective. Do you know where you are going? What is your purpose for being here in this world? How does your vision of your future align with your sense of purpose? As purpose and vision take form, perhaps you can “see” an image of your preferred future. If so, put it into written form or draw a picture. This is much more than an academic exercise. Taking time to visualize your purpose-driven future and create a visual representation of it helps you stay focused on what matters most.
“I dream my painting and paint my dream.” – Vincent Van Gogh
“The Three Armies can be deprived of their commanding officer, but even a common man cannot be deprived of his purpose.” – Confucius
With a vision, you can plan. With a plan you can take action. Action creates momentum, which gets results. But, always remember to keep your eye on the ball or you might get the wrong results and that would sabotage your future.
“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” – Jim Rohn
Clancy Cross Partner/Managing Director Development Beyond Learning