One of the great things about being a Canadian Olympian, is that we often are invited to have very cool experiences! A few months ago, some Olympians were invited to take part in a BMW advanced drivers course. BMW has been one of the official partners of the Canadian Olympic Committee for a number of years, and this driving course that they offer is one of the ways they are able to engage regular BMW or driving enthusiasts with the Olympians that they are helping to support.
Before going out on to the course to knock over pylons in slaloming attempts, test brakes in wet weather conditions and turn donuts in the car while trying to master over and under steering, we sat down for some lessons and wise words from former International race car driver Philippe Letourneau.
As he spoke with us about proper positioning for our hands and bodies within a car and regaled us with examples from his hit reality show, “Canada’s Worst Driver”, he mentioned something that really stuck with me.
“The thing about driving is you have to look where you want the car to go. It sounds ridiculous and simple, but really, you’d be surprised. So many people are trying to avoid something in the road, or their car starts skidding and all they are looking at is the thing they are trying to avoid! And where does the car go? Boom— right into that thing they were looking at!
I realized that principle applied not just to driving a car, but to pursuing goals in life as well. Self-improvement is a necessary and wonderful thing, but sometimes if we focus too much on what we need to fix, we end up not making progress towards our goal.
Elite level athletes are prime culprits for this kind of behaviour. Olympic level athletes are often considered the best of the best. At that level, everyone is doing almost everything to near perfection. In an attempt to stay at the top of the pack, or produce that long-sought after result that you know you are capable of, we tend to focus on any area where there are perceived weaknesses. Problems can occur when that area of perceived weakness takes too much of our energy and thoughts. We are so busy trying to fix what’s “wrong” (because of course, by now, we have convinced ourselves that this area of improvement is now a huge entity that is the sole reason why we cannot succeed to our liking) that we lose sight of what brought us to this point.
Suddenly, like a car skidding towards a barricade on a snowy Canadian road, we find ourselves hurtling towards the very thing we wanted to avoid, traveling in a tangential direction from where we intended to go. The problem is not that we tried to improve ourselves; after all, if you start skidding on ice you’re going to want to make the proper steering correction to put the car back on the right path. The problem is that while we were trying to put our wheels back on solid ground, our eyes were fixed solely on the barricade: So, the athlete that thought she could be the best if only she were stronger and lifts weights to the exclusion of everything else suddenly finds that she cannot move her body as efficiently as she once did.
The family vlogger that thinks he could increase subscriptions if he blogs daily, realizes that he spends so much time editing videos that he no longer has family time; the raw material from which he derives his craft. The successful business people who are warned about people who might take advantage of their financial success and are so overly concerned that they become tight – fisted, cold-hearted, misers.
The truth is that often times in order to reach your goal, and to continue down the path of success, you have to focus more on your strengths than your weaknesses. We must ask ourselves from time to time, what we are doing right, not just what we are doing wrong. What made us successful in the first place? What was it that we did so well that we dared to dream of more?
As we manoeuvred our cars through the slalom course that afternoon, those words rang in my head. It made so much sense, and yet it was so tempting to keep an eye on those pesky pylons. The thing is, I found it was impossible to properly drive the car, if I was looking anywhere other than where I wanted it to go. His advice worked!
So, Where is your “car” headed?
Where have you fixed your eyes?
Hopefully, the next time you do a self-evaluation, or are looking to improve or reach a long-awaited goal, you’ll remember that you have to “look where you want to go!”