An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | Feb. 13, 2009

Keep your eye on the ball

By Col. Michael T. England 89th Maintenance Group commander

Have you ever sat and watched a football game where a kicker walked out and calmly kicked the game winning field goal? Perhaps you've witnessed a basketball game where a player stood tall on the free-throw line and knocked down a pressure shot that made the difference between victory and defeat. How is it that these individuals are able to handle the pressure and focus on the task at hand while being surrounded by chaos? Do they possess some special gene that enables them to perform at a high level at the most crucial moments with the game on the line? Some might say that luck is the key ingredient, and in some cases, I would agree. However, when you see someone like Tiger Woods in action, who time and time again rises to the challenge and ends up victorious, it is readily apparent there is something at work that transcends the favors of Lady Luck. 

Is there something that we mere mortals can garner from the examples of those who seem to perform at their highest when the pressure is the greatest? Today it seems like at every turn we are faced with more uncertainty. The world economy is in a meltdown the likes of which have not been seen since the great depression. Unemployment rates are climbing and everyday seems to bring a new round of layoffs from leading corporations. Those of us serving in uniform continue to face high ops tempo with no relief in sight while trying to find ways to accomplish our jobs faster, smarter and cheaper. 

There are so many distractions pulling at us from all sides. Sometimes it is hard to concentrate on the tasks at hand. While there is nothing that can be done to completely eliminate the things that pull our attentions away from what we are trying to accomplish, there are a few things that perhaps we can take away from those that seem to routinely shrug off adversity to achieve their desired outcome. 

First, there is no substitute for preparation and commitment. There is a saying that "professionals practice until they get it right." In reality, professionals practice until "they can't get it wrong!" 

Secondly, you have to have goals with a clear picture in your mind of the exact end state you are trying to achieve. Finally, remember the most important thing is to "keep your eye on the ball." 

You have to have faith that everything you have done to prepare for that moment will see you through when the pressure is the greatest and the game is on the line. If you consistently employ these simple techniques, you may not be drafted in the first round next year. 

However you may find that you are better equipped to block out those ever present distractions and achieve higher performance levels in your daily duties.