One of the most valuable lessons my Olympic skeet shooting coach taught me was how to analyze things. At the same time, he taught me to ask myself why I do something the way I do. It was a lesson that at times I was obsessed with, and I began asking myself about even the simplest details like, “I wonder if I comb my hair differently whether it would keep it from falling down over my eyes when I’m shooting?” The key is to learn to find out what’s important or what can be beneficial and then learn how to apply what you found.
One day my coach took me to the skeet field and asked me, “Faules, what stations do you have the most difficulty with?” I told him, “Oh that’s easy. That would be station five.” Then he asked, “So which station do you feel you are the best at?” Quickly I said, “That would be station two. I couldn’t miss a target there if I tried.” Then he said, “OK, grab your gun and let’s go work on station two.” Thinking he didn’t hear me correctly I said, “Coach, you must have misunderstood me. I said I have trouble with station five. I’m really good at station two. Don’t you mean let’s go work on station five?”
That’s when coach put his hand on my shoulder and with a grin, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Let me answer your question with a question: Why would you want to go spend time doing something really bad over there when you could come over here and ask yourself, ‘What is it I’m doing correctly?’ Now let’s go over to station two and analyze what it is you’re doing so well, and what makes you so good and confident there. Then let’s take that knowledge over to station five and apply it. How does that sound?”
I have to tell you it wasn’t as easy as it sounds, but in fact I did learn how to analyze the things I was doing right, and then apply them to the things that needed attention. Note, I never use the phrase, “what I’m bad at.” Learn to know you’re not bad at something. Rather know you are just finding the way to improve and be better. There is a big difference.
It’s this same theory that can work well for you on the racetrack. If you’re having trouble with a specific turn at the track, learn not to convince yourself how bad you are. Rather, ask yourself if there is another corner here — or at another track — where I have a great deal of confidence. Then ask yourself if you know why you feel so confident there. Start the process of breaking down your “good attributes” and learn how to analyze them, and then begin the process of applying that confidence to your troubled areas. During this process, there will come a time in which you will begin to find there are fewer gray areas where you lack confidence. By opening up your eyes to what you are really good at, you will find yourself able to accept that you are better than you thought you were.
Years ago I had the privilege to hold a hand-written note that said, “If you truly want to be great at something, find your niche in life and be the very best at it. Signed, Lucille Ball.”
My point is a simple one. Learn to analyze the good you possess. It’s in you. You just need to learn how to find the good and forget what it is you are not good at yet.