Keep Planting Grass

I read a story earlier this week that I found quite interesting.  It was about a man who was having a terrible time maintaining his yard.  It was overtaken by weeds and no matter how much he worked at it he couldn’t get the problem under control.  He eventually called out a lawn care company to take a look and was told it was too big of a problem for them.  Unwilling to give up, the man drove down the road to a local farm where he shared his problem with the farmer, asking for a lawn care tip.  After listening carefully the farmer responded, “Keep planting the grass; don’t pull weeds”.

Interesting.  Very interesting.

In our daily lives, it’s easy to focus on what’s not going well or what’s not working.  It’s easy to focus on the outcome and not the process.

In the story above the emphasis was indeed on paying attention to the process and if you’ve read any of my writings before or been to The Ranch you know we are process centered.  We like to say “Focus on the process and the outcome will follow”.

Today however, I’m going to share some thoughts on something else I concluded from the story and it’s the power of what you allow yourself to focus on.  It’s been shown in studies that we actually get more of what we concentrate on, so, if you think about what you want, you’ll get more of what you want.  Conversely, if you think about what you don’t want, you’ll get more of what you don’t want. Sounds easy enough but almost all of us can use some work here.

I always ask my athletes at the end of a softball lesson, “What are you going to work on/focus on this week?”  Occasionally, I’ll get an answer like “Not bending my arm or not leaning forward”.  I immediately say, “Put that in the positive” to which I frequently get the questioning, what do you mean look.  I then say “Tell me what you want, not what you don’t want.  It’s like me telling you ‘don’t think of a purple elephant.  What’s did you just think of?’  Of course, a purple elephant.”

So, I then ask the question again, “What are you going to work on?” and the response changes to “Keeping my arm long and staying tall.”  It may seem like a small difference, but it’s an important difference when talking about training and long term success.

Lanny Basham, an Olympic Champion shooter and mental coach has a GREAT book titled “With Winning in Mind”I highly recommend it.  In the book and through his Mental Management System™ he emphasizes focusing on exactly what you want to have happen.  He also stresses the importance of keeping a Performance Journal and in the journal recording those things that went well.  It all ties to his concept of “imprinting” and he wants those imprints to be of the good or the positive, not of the bad or negative.

I had a bit of a difficult time with this at first as my belief was that you’ve got to know what you’re doing wrong to fix it.  I now believe his point is simply that you don’t think or concentrate on that.  It is what it is.  Look forward and keep planting the seeds of what you want.

I’ll often catch myself asking, “What went wrong? What needs to change so this doesn’t occur again?”  It seems harmless but what if instead I asked, “What can I do better so this turns out well next time?”   One puts a far more positive light on the situation.  One leads to better answers.  If I ask what went wrong, my brain will come up with a lot that went wrong.  If I ask what I can do better, my brain will come up with a lot of good answers.

Our brains are amazing and we can choose to have them work for or against us.  Remind yourself this week to, “Keep planting grass.”

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