good friend of mine called me one day frustrated with things at home. He had been struggling for sometime with his wife and daughters often distracted by work. He just simply not present even though he was physically there. Sound familiar? Yea, well, that makes many of us! So often we haven’t figured out how to transition from work to home, back to work, from call to call, from moment to moment. Why is it so difficult? Why can’t we just turn it off and then back on again when we need it? Unfortunately, for many of us, our worlds are collapsed into one another. You can’t stop being a fireman, a cop or an operator, it just doesn’t work that way.
During our conversation I went back to something we teach on the range. Think about this… shooting is easy. All you have to do is press through the trigger without disturbing the sites. That’s it. If you’re at distance or shooting long range then you need to be aware of the conditions and the impact they will have on the bullet as it travels through space and time to its destination but again, the action is easy. Just press through the trigger and don’t disturb the sites, REGARDLESS of the circumstances. Ok, so maybe not so easy, or is it?
What we see time and time again is that we put so much in the space between the action and the result that it becomes extremely difficult, overwhelming, intimidating and nearly impossible. But remember, it’s actually easy, IF I set the conditions for success. It’s the full of shit part that truly steps in to interrupt our flow and ability to hit the target.
Go with me for a moment… I want you to imagine yourself on a beautiful range, completely peaceful, with no distractions. It’s just you, a few close friends, the gun and the target. You’re shooting out to 750 yards and the conditions are just right. Very little wind, gorgeous day, no stress, no worries, just you, the gun and the target.
Now, what begins to show up? Desire to hit it? Frustration that you can’t get a good position? The sandbag isn’t cooperating? Doubt because this is the furthest you’ve ever shot? Embarrassment and/or judgement because the guys behind you will harass the shit out of you if you miss? As you begin to press through the trigger your mind instantly jumps to worry that the gun isn’t in a good position and the recoil may hurt, things are just right, you know it, you feel it, frustration is taking over as you apply more pressure to the trigger. You lean in as you press and just like that, the action was no longer easy… you miss. YOU missed. The gun didn’t miss, the guys behind you didn’t miss, the round didn’t miss, you did. That bullet went exactly where it was aimed.
This is what is more commonly referred to as self-sabotage. We incumber the action by allowing a narrative (or our thoughts) to take hold and then, we believe them as if they are completely accurate. We give way to the voice in our head and allow it to trigger sensations in our body that disrupt our flow. We cloud the space with, well, bullshit.
None of these things that I just laid out are not real. They only exist in the space between your ears as that little voice chattering away. Where else do they show up across your life?
Not getting your workouts in? I mean it’s easy to workout, right? Not communicating with your spouse well? You know how to talk, don’t you? Struggling to connect with your children, you do remember how to listen, don’t you?
Sometime ago I was asked a question. “What separates the best of the best?” The interviewer was asking the context of the top performers in their fields, military special operations, pro athletes, highly successful entrepreneurs. What’s the difference? What makes them perform better than so many others? Here was my answer: it’s the willingness to pause in sheer chaos. They know how to pause, even if only for a fraction of time and see what is actually happening around them.
For so long we have been inundated with “lists” of things we “have” to do or ways we “have” be in order to see the results we want in our lives. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but having an operational mindset means that you live your life in action, not lists. You do the next thing, you take the next step, you say what needs to be said when it needs to be said.
Now, all of this is predicated on the fact that you are actually here, now, in this moment. Not off somewhere in the future or dredging through your past allowing that voice to clutter the space with useless crap. None of that has any impact on this moment right now. If you look around right now, and ACT based on the conditions AS THEY EXIST, not as they should exist, the action is always easy. You embrace the current conditions as they are, not judging them for what they are not. You lay down your expectations of how things should be, should look, should feel and just go with it as it is – good, bad, ugly, raw, whatever.
Come back to that gun. Now take control, get yourself stable, follow the process, feel the wind on your face, hear the sounds happening now, let the desire to hit the target sit in your body. Now, read the conditions, see the wind, feel the shifts and actually feel the moment when you know it’s time to take the shot. Be with the trigger as it you press it to the rear, feel the moment it breaks, feel the firing pin make contact with the primer, listen for the powder to ignite, sense the bullet being propelled down and then out of the barrel as the recoil moves the gun back into your shoulder, follow the round to its target as you stay with the shot and holding that trigger to the rear. See the impact and wait for it… listen for the sound to travel back to you affirming a hit. Magic!
Now, do the exact same thing when you go home, engage with others, run the next call. Take a moment to transition, to pause and reset yourself. Put yourself in the condition you want to be in for the next moment. Feel the cold on the door knob as you turn it, see your kids expression as you walk in the door, experience the slight smile from your spouse as what it’s meant to be, look at their faces, give hugs and kisses, smell what home smells like, look around and see what is there, right then… now, what’s the next action? And remember… if it’s not easy, you’re full of shit.