Words of wisdom from The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your life by Thomas M. Sterner:
“’Do, Observe, Correct.’” This technique can be applied to any activity in which you try to engage the practicing mind, but because DOC is easiest to grasp when applied to a physical activity such as a sport, we will start with that.
“I once read an interview with a coach for the U.S. Olympic archery team. He commented that the biggest problem he faced in coaching the America team was that they focused on their scores, or the result of their shots. It was as if they were drawing the bow and releasing the arrow only to hit the bull’s-eye and earn a good score. This was in contrast to the Asian teams, who, having grown up in different cultures, were consumed in the process of properly executing the technique that lead up to releasing the shot. Where the arrow hit the target was almost unimportant compared to the motion of drawing the bow correctly and releasing the shot. They reviewed the result with an almost detached indifference. For them, the desired goal was a natural result of prioritizing the proper technique of drawing the bow. They operated in a completely different paradigm, and because of it, they were very difficult to beat.
“What I want you to understand from this story is that the Asian archers were functioning in the DOC process. They drew the bow, they released the arrow, they observed the result, and they made corrections for the next shot. They do, they observe, they correct.”
What a simple, yet powerful idea! Instead of focusing on results – on where you’ll end up — simply focus on the steps needed to take you there. Think how this might transform a writing session: Rather than fixating on a goal, say writing 1,000 words or finishing a chapter, just quietly and patiently focus on craft – on tightening up your sentences, moving phrases around, finding a better, more accurate word to describe an emotion. Just let yourself be carried on the wave of the writing itself, not the shore you are aiming for.
What a relaxing, non-stressful way to get where we want to go as we all write on!
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