Proud To Be A Maverick, But Do I Really Have Trouble With Focus, Really?

Let me start by saying, like many people who are about to take a personality assessment, I was apprehensive. But once I got into the questions I started having fun, and at the conclusion of my Athletes Types Assessment, I was super excited to learn that my Athlete Type was the Maverick. Innovative, adaptive, and a bit rebellious… That’s me! Mavericks are the Dynamic Athlete. They’re not afraid to go against the grain or march to the beat of their own drum. They’re inventive and entrepreneurial, always coming up with new and exciting ideas. Marcus Holman, Jared Goff, Clayton Kershaw and now… Tim McDermott is part of the tribe!

And that felt awesome.

But what I was less stoked to learn was that as awesome as being a Maverick is, the type also has its “areas of improvement”. One particular weakness of the Dynamic Athlete ruffled my feathers:

  • “May be easily distracted due to chasing different ideas.”

At first glance, my Maverick nature shouted, “No way! That’s not me!” (Isn’t that how all of us respond when a weakness is pointed out?)

Because of our very nature, the things that make us Mavericks stand out from the crowd—and thrive in difficult situations—can also be our Achilles heel. Because our minds are racing in a hundred different directions, we can be sloppy with details, often “winging it.” Because we are independent and spontaneous, we can have difficulty following rules and can be unwilling to comply or fully commit to something.

Yeah… I guess that might me be me after all.

But this is what makes Athlete Type so great: you learn where you have room to grow. The assessment scores have been derived from 30,000+ profiles of elite performers and are based on psychological research and scientific data. It wasn’t a personal attack on my character, it was just one aspect of it, and an aspect shared by many others. So when I saw my low “attention to detail” score, I knew it was an issue I needed to address.

Leading Human Performance psychologist Anders Ericcson states in his book PEAK that all humans have the gift of adaptability, the ability to change. You just have to want it.

And this is good news: it means I am not doomed to live an unorganized, unfocused life. Knowing that, I decided to dig in and find out how we Mavericks can cultivate that focus.

Where do we start?
We must develop our front-sight focus. Here’s a simple formula from Navy Seal Commander Mark Divine.

  • Simplify + Prioritize + Take Action.

In his book, The Way of the Seal, he tells us that in the chaos of war, elite SEALs are taught to “simplify the battlefield. When the fog of battle rolls in and things are nowhere near as clear as they were a moment before, it’s absolutely essential that we simplify everything. We need to identify THE next most important target and then put ALL of our energy into successfully executing that micro-mission as we maintain what he calls our “front-sight” focus.

Olympian swimmer, Michael Phelps attributes coach Bob Bowen’s mantra “‘W.I.N’ Aka ‘What’s Important Now’?!” In his book. “No Limits” Michael Phelps, one of the most decorated Olympians of all time athletes of all time, echoes Commander Divine’s wisdom that in any given moment there is only ONE most important thing to do. And, that’s what the best among us do. Over and over and over and over again. Phelps tells us about one of the secrets to his success that he learned from his coach Bob Bowman.

It’s a very simple question that happens to form a powerful word: What’s important now?

W.I.N.

What’s important now? Micro WIN… Micro WIN… Micro WIN. String enough of these micro wins together and you will cultivate the superhero focus and momentum necessary to propel you towards your big WIN!

Simplify. Identify next target. Focus. Execute that micro-mission. Repeat.

Tools for Daily Practice:

  1. Simplify. Clear your mind. Meditate (whatever that means to you.. you will know. For me, it’s cold showers).
  2. Prioritize your next target. I journal and plan my day to capture my thoughts, tasks, and appointments in a central location. The Bullet Journal method works for me.
  3. Focus and take action. With all your thoughts and tasks out of your head and on paper, you will have the clarity to prioritize the ONE task that needs to be done next. Make it a game by crossing off each simple task one-by-one, one micro-win at a time. When you look back on your day you will be impressed with all your micro-wins—and you may even feel inspired to accomplish more!

More tips to come on meditation and journaling. In the meantime, Let’s start stringing our W.I.N.S. together!