focus on breaking the tape

A major portion of the year is done and dusted, and now we’re here in the endgame. We’ve all been working hard towards accomplishing our previously set big goals, and we’ll be soon in the final 90 days of the year. 

No matter where you stand with regard to your BHAGs, there’s still a chance you can win. You can still muster the strength within you to have that final big sprint to get ahead and finish the year, and in a broader picture the current decade strong, and enter 2020 with momentum, positivity and confidence. 

So in the last leg of this year, what should be your primary focus? Your focus should be on one and only one thing — breaking the tape.

In a recent online mentoring session by Darren Hardy, I learned that this is the exact advice that a visiting Olympic coach once gave to a gifted young runner while he was running track in college. 

This promising and talented runner, regardless of his relentless training, strong discipline and all the hard work he put in, would lose all the competitions he participated in consistently securing second place. He would lead the entire race, however, in the final stretch of the race he would always be overtaken. No matter what approaches or strategies he tried, nothing seemed to work. And this caused him a great amount of anguish and frustration. 

You may be in a similar position as you pursue your big goals. You put in tons of effort and do all the hard work required , but still you find yourself behind as you cross the finish line on the last night of the year. 

But not this time, not this year. You know you deserve to win big. And here’s an important piece of advice that’ll help you do that.

During one competition, a renowned Olympic track coach was present among the spectators and this runner again lost the race and was placed second. The coach approached the sprinter and told him that he had the talent, ability and tenacity to be placed first, yet he was still falling short. He asked him if he knew why this was happening . 

The runner concurred with him and told him about his frustration due to this as well. The coach continued that he had watched many races of him and came to the conclusion that the runner was ahead for 80-90% of the race and just as he was about to win in the final moments, he made a costly mistake — he looked over his shoulder — and that was precisely when someone overtook him to lead the field. 

The coach told him to focus only on the finish line, and just fixate on breaking the tape when he ran his next race. He instructed him to forget what’s happening beside him or behind him. Winners are only focused on their own lane and are not afraid if they are in front, advancing alone. 

He explained, “What happens is that when you look over your shoulder, you switch your attention from the positive goal of winning to the possibility of someone overtaking you. When your brain gets influenced by this fear, your motor circuits get affected and slow you down. When you focus on only breaking the tape rather than outrunning your competitors, you tell your brain to maintain your pace and finish strong. You no longer get distracted and your only fixation is on the goal and that is breaking the tap to achieve victory.”

The runner ended up winning the next race, and he kept securing first place in every race he took part in after that eye-opening meeting with the coach, becoming an Olympian athlete eventually.

Ato Boldon, former track and field athlete, is another person who knows this truth very well. In the 1996 Olympics, he glanced over to Namibia’s Frankie Fredericks and fell behind him, which got him bronze rather than silver. Boldon says, “You should be able to run 100 meters like a horse in the Kentucky Derby with blinders on. Nothing in the 100 should ever cause a sprinter to look to his left or right.”

Three key lessons that we can learn from the above-mentioned story are:

  1. The race can be won or lost in the final leg: It doesn’t matter how much you have advanced or how much you have accomplished over the previous months. All your hard work and discipline all year can end up losing its impact in the last few months if you don’t pay attention.
  2. One tiny mistake can keep you away from victory: Elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do. One faulty behavior can ruin your success, and if you don’t fix it and keep repeating it, you’ll get the same results. It’s like walking every day on a street that has an open manhole. You may fall once due to ignorance, but you can’t keep falling in the open manhole every time you walk on the street. You have to learn to avoid it. What is one negative behavior or bad habit that is slowing you down and causing you to fall short? Figure it out and work towards correcting it by replacing it with another positive behavior. 
  3. Focus on only one thing — breaking the tape: In the final push of your race, just fixate on breaking the tape. Don’t let the shiny objects, the crowd and your competitors affect your focus. Keep in mind that your body follows your eyes, so wear the blinders on and focus dead straight ahead. Monomaniacal focus will get you the victory that you have been longing for. 

I’ll be here at The Daily Apple for the next 90-day end of the year sprint every single day to keep you inspired and energized, so come join me. Let’s fixate on the finish line and focus on breaking the tape together.