While great advice for any track athlete, “worry about YOUR self” (perhaps interpreted as “run your own race”) is an especially potent strategy for a 400m hurdler. Until the final barrier is cleared, letting my thoughts drift anywhere besides what I am doing in the present moment – the sound of an opponent’s foot falls, the end result, the weight of my watch on my wrist – could spell disaster in the execution of a race.
Similarly, though in a slightly different sphere, Canadian astronaut Commander Hadfield outlines the focus required for flying a fighter jet:
“When you’re 150 feet off the ground and moving at 400 knots, which is common for fighter and test pilots, you have to concentrate on what’s directly in front of you. If you don’t, you’ll die. That kind of focus is less about what you include than what you ignore. And by ignore, I mean completely block out; the argument with your boss, your financial worries – gone. If it doesn’t matter for the next 30 seconds, then it doesn’t exist.”
– Commander Chris Hadfield
I’m not skimming along the earth’s surface in a fighter jet, but I do want to achieve the same level of excellence.
Learn more about flying fighter jets and the perspective of an astronaut in Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. This read comes highly recommended!