As I walked away that afternoon dejected with myself I had to remind myself to “lose fast”. To clarify, should you make a mistake(be it at the range, links, or free throw line), is to get over it and get back to work with the mindset of doing the next rep vigorously and as perfect as possible. Don’t dwell on the past because you can’t get it back. What would be better? To worry about what you just did, or to make the next shot the best shot you have ever made? We don’t have time machines so we can’t call the bullets back into the gun so all we can do is “lose fast”. Get your head back in the game with the realization that we are not perfect and if anything, during training it is ok to be less than perfect. Training is our time to make mistakes with the intention that we learn from those mistakes. Train hard and train harder to lose fast. In summary the author of Mind Gym, Gary Mack, puts it succinctly.
“Fretting about the shot you just made will get you another just like it”
What I have learned is that it is more important to concentrate on the task at hand and not the goal at hand. Want to make a certain par time on a drill or course of fire at a match? All you can do is shoot to the best of your ability and work on getting better from there. Sports psychologist Gary Mack wrote, “The probability of achieving the outcome you want increases when you let go of the need to have it.” This is one of the cornerstones of our teaching here at Shootlogic and it corresponds to performance vs. outcome based training. The summary of that being quit thinking about the goal (only bullseye hits) and concentrate on what will get you there (proper application of the fundamentals). We at Shootlogic prefer the “Performance” approach. There is a skill set discrepancy among all shooters so it is important to realize where you are in your own journey and work to improve. A great example would be a standard such as the 8 second clean El Presidente drill. Someone like Bob Vogel can clean it in 6 sec. Many people begin chasing the 6 second ability of a world class shooter who has put in decades of work instead of simply improving themselves a little at a time and putting in the work. A road trip only lasts longer if you keep looking at the miles left on the GPS so sit back and enjoy the drive. This is an easy trap to fall into and stay in; it takes constant vigilance and effort to stay in the right frame of mind. I had a specific goal in mind, my final score, and instead of simply working towards it I showed up at a match with only that in mind. Match day is the wrong time to be thinking about a particular goal; just like when it’s time to defend yourself is the wrong time to question your ability or your firearm. To put this in a more self-defensive perspective, think about it like this: Would you be better off thinking about simply surviving the encounter, or executing the necessary steps you need to take to survive the encounter (even if that just boils down to remembering to focus on your front site). See the difference?
“Give yourself permission to win, but then let go of the idea of winning and focus on execution and the process.”
I put a lot of pressure on myself for no useful reason. My fear of failure was stronger than my desire to succeed; it needs to be the exact opposite from here on out. I drive pretty hard in my day to day life and it is magnified for me when I am on a range. I literally got into my own head and was possessed with, “don’t miss this shot.” Can you guess what happened? Yes, I missed or was not as accurate as I needed to be because that was the last thing in my head when I took my first shot on a stage. Then I allowed myself to get amped up and continue making other sloppy mistakes because the fear of failure grew like a weed in June. Failure is feedback…nothing more.
On a positive note I know that I am a dedicated person and dedication is simply turning desire into action. I know what to improve, how to improve, and have a plan in place to improve. Moving forward, I have learned from these mistakes and can control them because I know and have demonstrated the physical ability before with witnesses. In the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter because my wife still loves me, Mike Hogan is still one of my great friends, both Brians still rib me, and so all is right with the world. Hopefully sharing these mental mistakes will help you in your own training and help you conquer your own mental shortfalls. Now all I have to do is take my own advice.
Some great books to read should you want to help further a winning mindset no matter what your endeavor is:
The Champion’s Mind: Jim Afremow
With Winning in Mind: Lanny Bassham
Mind Gym: Gary Mack
The Little Book of Talent: Daniel Coyle