“Under the sword lifted high, There is hell making you tremble. But go ahead, And you have the land of bliss.” – Miyamoto Musashi
1.5 klicks. I have to make it 1.5 klicks through this shit. Men screaming orders, live machine-gun fire over head, an entire platoon of grunts behind my squad of Engineers. The entire flow and progress of the entire movement was dependent on my squads actions. We had to make 5 breaches. If any one of the those breaches fail the entire platoon fails. We had to conduct 5 DIFFERENT types of breaches too, from a simple barbwire bridge, to an APOBS (back pack full of rocket propelled, strung along, grenades), to dynamic door breaches in the trenches. Once a breach was conducted we had to sprint to the front of the entire platoon, get to the front, and conduct another one. We had to run harder, worry about more, and had the most pressure. All I kept thinking about was how this was all dependent on my direction. I was the team leader, I had to have this entire scene understood, planned, thought out, and even lead the shit… conducting two breaches myself in the trenches. I just reminded myself to focus on one breach as a time. Don’t worry about the last breach… worry about the first breach. Just get through the first god damn obstacle.
At the Flight Weightlifting Meet this last week we had every level of lifter showed. Guys that could have qualified for the American Open right up to beginners and even a world record dead lift attempted just for shits… in their first meet ever. It was a real privilege to watch. I remember talking to a lot of the first time lifters. They were very nervous… like we all are. You could see the doubt… but I knew that they were ready, they’re just not ready to see it yet. I kept telling them to just focus on their opener. Go through it in their mind. Every pull, the feelings, the set-up, making the lift. Over and over. Focus on it as intently as possible. “You’ve made this lift 1000 times. Now just go make it 1001.” I’d tell them. “Don’t get ahead of yourself, don’t think about your third Snatch or your total. Just go out there and think about your very first lift.”
Weightlifting, in my mind, is the pinnacle of competition. You train and train for 1000’s of hours a year. A competition lift is roughly 3 seconds for a Snatch and 10-15 seconds for a Clean and Jerk. You get 6. The average competitor will compete 3-6 times a year. That’s roughly 54 seconds of competition time in a competition… and 3-6 minutes throughout the entire year. Think about that. There will be no teammates up there with you – you are completely alone. There will be no lucky bounce of the ball. You cannot accidentally make a Snatch or C&J. The lights will be on you, the crowd is watching, the judges surround you… and you have to fucking thread the needle… in arguably some of the most difficult movements in any sport. It’s a beautiful fight. But, it is easy for an athlete in this situation to get ahead of themselves and too into their head. The athlete must keep it simple. Think of the beginning, not the end. Focus on the opener.
By focusing on just the one lift, in your own mind you make it a much more simple task… daunting as it is. But it’s about developing your flow. When on a rifle range, I do not focus on the my total for the range, I focus on the shot I am attempting to do. When I want to Clean and Jerk, thinking about the Jerk takes away from the most important lift of the exercise… getting it off of the god-damn floor. If you miss the Clean, you don’t even stand a chance. Focus on the Clean. Don’t worry about your total… focus on making your first lift. Focusing on the action at hand for the simple sake of what it is… the action… is how you can develop flow – a relaxed state in which the athlete can succeed.
Take for instance my feature image for this article (the lion and the archer). This is THE deciding moment of that situation. The Lion is fearsome, angry, roaring the face of this much smaller, weaker man. He has just one shot at surviving this, if he misses, or hits anything less than a kill shot the Lion will be upon him. If the archer focuses on the Lion, he will surely miss. The archer needs to focus on himself, his hand, his arrow. He needs to focus on the his breathing, the draw of the arrow, the timing of the release. When professional pool players are about to perform a shot, they don’t look at the ball near the pocket, the focus on striking the center (or any other point that is needed) of the Q-ball. Bringing your focus into yourself, at the very beginning of your action is what will immensely help in your success. Focus on your openers, not your 3rd attempts or total. Focus on the beginning of the action, not the result. Focus on the Alpha, not the Omega. Then the reward will come to you… and not you to the reward. “The flower does not dream of the bee, it only blossoms, and the bee comes.”