Think What You’re Doing!

I love to think.

I’m pretty sure I always have. However, when it comes time to settle myself and refocus, I can still hear the booming voice of my high school soccer coach, Ken Warren. Typically in practice, as time allowed for everything to come to a complete stop, he would exhort an individual or group to “Think what you’re doing!” after making a mistake.

Perfection was not the ideal, effort and attention to detail was.

I count him as the finest motivator I’ve ever been around. Truthfully, he “got me” better than anyone else and his knack for sensing the way to reach his players is burned into my mind more than anything. I’m certain this skill connected to his background in sales and, when he went to work on his team, he orchestrated victory like the celebrated conductor of a world famous symphony.

By emphasizing a dogged execution of his simple tactics (some might call them uncultured, as he grew up playing gridiron football), he was able to get the most out of every player. The most talented guys played a level or two higher, those with less were given “the strength of ten men,” performing far above what the casual observer would expect of them. All committed to the common cause, rallied by the calm certainty laid over raging competitive fire burning hotter than 1,000 suns within the eyes of their leader, spurred by a simple command during hours of afternoon drills and scrimmages:

Think.

Think soccer. Think music. Think physics. Whatever it is you’re focused on, take time to look below the surface. Peer behind the curtain and make an effort to understand the mechanisms underlying your endeavor. Your enjoyment will increase because understanding the minutiae allows you to see things before others do, to make slight course corrections when necessary and savor the little things most are unable to comprehend.

Thinking first will allow you to “just do” later.

By taking the time to really explore and absorb the various fine points of what you’re attempting–regardless of how mundane or extraordinary–you’ll soon do what it takes to be excellent instinctively. You’ll move without thinking like any great athlete, as “muscle memory” kicks in and you accelerate into the next phase and the one after that.

Your mindset will carry over into other areas and, before you know it, you’ve got less in the way of excuses and more in the way of progress.  As Ken would say, “There’s no reason you can make 27 decisions a second on the soccer field and be unable to pass in the classroom.”  One will lift the other. It must follow, as the night the day.

All because you took some time to think.

What will you stop doing and start thinking?

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