Focus & The Road to Success

highwayWe were on the road driving to our favorite vacation spot and it got me to thinking.  The two-lane roads were extremely curvy, winding, and steep.  It took my complete focus to drive safely.  When we were comfortably in our cabin I thought of our drive.  My thoughts drifted to my driver’s education instructor who taught me, an inexperienced driver, where to focus in order to stay within the lines of the lane.  He taught me to look straight ahead in my lane and to trust that I will stay within the lines.

Just as a driver needs to know where to focus for his or her own safety and the safety of those on the road, a performer needs to know where and on what he or she needs to focus in order to feel safe on the stage.   Focus is one of the most important mental skills for performers.  Let’s first look at where the performer should not focus.

Let’s go back to the highway.  I know better than to focus on the oncoming car or on some activity happening on the side of the road.  However, there have been times when my focus while driving has strayed to one side of the road or the other.  If you’ve done this, you know what happens—the wheel often pulls in that direction.  This is very similar for performers.

“The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire, not on things we fear.”  —Brian Tracy

If performers focus on forgetting the words, having a memory slip, or making mistakes, they may very likely forget the words, make that memory slip or that mistake.  Some performers focus on how anxious they are so they continue to feel the adverse effects of that anxiety.   Just like driving on that highway, when performers’ focus is pulled off target—on what they don’t want to happen—that is exactly what happens.

“If you focus on results, you will never change.  If you focus on change, you will get results.”  —Jack Dixon

Other performers focus on the outcome of their performance or the results which shifts them right out of the NOW and onto something that is often completely out of their control.  The present moment is where your focus is most effective  Focus, however, is very individual.  You need to identify what is most important for you to focus on in your own performing.

“The first rule of focus is this:  ‘Wherever you are, be there.’ ”

The following process can help:

Step 1:  Identify what is most important to focus on during your performance.

Step 2:  Identify what is NOT important to focus on or think about during your performance.

Step 3:  Identify other things or thoughts that pull your focus off target.

Step 4:  Learn to and practice shifting your focus back to Step 1 when focus drifts or pulls off target.

 

If this has helped you or you have something to add, I’d love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment below.

Would you like to learn how to develop your own unique pre-performance routine and your most effective performance mindset?  Then, check out The Relaxed Musician:  Mental Preparation for Confident Performances.   Download Day 1 of the workbook and audio to see how the program can work for you.  With purchase, you will receive 2 great bonuses—Your Pre-Performance Checklist and the e-book, Letting Go of the Need to be Perfect!

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