As a child I learned that while “talent,” and opportunity can reduce the effort necessary to attain a goal, they are not requirements. Later in life I learned that while hard work can get you there, real breakthroughs require absolute commitment. Believing you can makes your goal an option. Deciding you will makes your goal a commitment. I have experienced this phenomenon many times, and no example illustrates the concept better than a grand prix motorcycle road race I competed in at the Grattan Speedway in 2011.
After road racing motorcycles for four years, I decided I would win a national championship. In the first half of the season I focused on all the aspects of my riding which needed improvement: my technique, strategy, fitness, and mental concentration. I became faster and secured the championship points lead, but hadn’t achieved the breakthrough I was looking for. When I arrived at the Grattan Speedway I learned that a fast local racer was in attendance, all but guaranteeing that I wouldn’t win. In the practice sessions my pace was respectable, but I was four seconds per lap slower than him. At an average speed of 100 miles per hour, this difference in pace meant that the gap between us would increase by almost 600 feet per lap, and by the end of the eight lap race would grow to 4,700 feet!
I approached the first race focused on minimizing the damage to my lead in the championship, mentally committing to defeat. As I predicted, I crossed the finish line nearly a mile behind the leader. The next day just before the second race began, I felt a surge of genuine confidence and blurted out to my team-mate, “I’m going to win.” He looked back at me and said “do it.” I didn’t just think I could win, I decided. The flag dropped and I was the racer I always wanted to be; confident, decisive, and fast. I finished less than 4 feet behind the leader, dropped a full 4 seconds off my lap times, and narrowly missed breaking the lap record! While I didn’t actually win, the lesson here is clear: There is a huge difference between saying “I think I can” and saying “I will.” After this event I went on to win multiple races, post multiple fastest laps, and win the 2011 AHRMA National Championship.
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