Sunday, April 20, 2014

A One Track Mind

by Doug Ward on December 20, 2013

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Even though it has become a common and admirable character trait in society today, our minds are not meant to multi-task. Sure, we can.  Yes, we are all capable.  It’s pretty much expected, but it’s simply not how our brains were hard-wired.  It’s not really how we were built to operate. The human mind was only meant to focus, REALLY focus on one thing at a time. You can have many thoughts running through your mind at any given moment, but to clearly focus on what you’re doing, requires effort.  As difficult as it is, zeroing-in on one task, the one that’s right in front of you, could hold the key your progress. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that a single-minded approach is something that will help you to become a better fighter.  The secret to a more successful future lies in being able to think about what’s right in front of you, right now.  That doesn’t mean that you have to shut the rest of the world down or completely out.  For most people that isn’t realistic or healthy, but when it’s time to get down to business, you should be able to eliminate as many distractions as possible.

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In life, it’s tough for some fighters to juggle the wide range of tasks and responsibilities that are required of them.   A job, a family, eating right, training hard, even sleeping – all require time and attention.  Give too much focus to one area and it robs from another and you may seem to be living a life that’s always out of balance.  Drama from your spouse, unreasonable requests from your boss and other distractions even tip the scales further away from training and away from the time you would rather be spending in the gym. The solution: When you’re not in training for a specific fight, attend to your duties at home more fully, pay more attention to your spouse and give your boss a few extra hours when you can spare it.  Then, when duty calls and they get just a little less of you, hopefully they will be more accepting that your focus has to shift temporarily.  If they don’t get it and expect you to spread yourself too thin and sacrifice training, explain that when you’re there for them, you’ll be there, but time away from training and not spent at the gym are no longer part of the compromise…not until after the fight, anyway.  If they’re reasonable and fair, they will understand.

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Once you’re in training and temporarily shut off from the rest of the world, it should actually be easier to focus.  Don’t let people, actions or situations distract from why you’re there.  So train. Don’t watch others get after it.  Don’t engage in idle conversation during or even between rounds.  Think one thing and do one thing in the gym and have that one thing be preparing to fight.   Joe Frazier said, “You can map out a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned and you’re down to your reflexes – your training. That’s where your roadwork shows.   If you cheated on that in the dark of morning, you’re getting found out now, under the bright lights.”  It really comes down to focus.  You won’t get “found out” if you’re fully prepared and have approached your craft with a single-minded focus.  When the gym door closes behind you, leave your life problems and worries behind.  They will be there when your workout is done. In preparing for a fight, everyone wants to be around you.  They want to talk to you, give you advice and be on the team.  You are about to be part of something exciting so their attraction to that is understandable, but if they’re focused on how THEY fit into your pre-fight preparations and fight night plans, rather than what YOU have to accomplish, then they’re a distraction you simply don’t need and can’t afford.  As difficult as it is, you have to shut those guys out or shut them down.  Simply tell them you have to focus on your preparations, get your head in the game and get yourself ready.  If they’re truly in it for you, they’ll understand and support your mission.  If not…well, you know want that means.   As fight time draws near, everything else has to take a back seat.  No exceptions.  In his autobiography, the Big Fight, Sugar Ray Leonard shared that, “Fights are often lost when one of the competitors are not completely focused on the man who will come at him from the other corner, determined to beat his brains in.  You can’t wait until the day of the fight to enter that zone.  You must be in it for days, if not weeks.  It’s no different really from the leading man who must memorize his lines in rehearsal and get into character before the cameras roll.”  That says it all. If you’ve chosen the life of a fighter, you’ve obviously chosen the sacrifice that goes along with it.  Part of that sacrifice is a willingness to occasionally and temporarily put everything else aside.  If you’ve dedicated a part of your life to boxing, there will be moments, hours and days that it should be the one thing that dominates your thoughts.  The one and only thing.  Don’t listen to anyone else telling you that you should be anything more or something other than just a fighter.  If you’re preparing to enter the ring, at that point in time, being a fighter is all that should matter.

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