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Beating the Odds

Focus on Focus

Last night I had the chance to watch a very good coach at work.

She had designed a strong practice, and tried to set the tone by writing a quote on top of her whiteboard. It said, “The power of focus is what separates those who are good from those who are great.”

When practice began, things didn’t look so great. Her players kept making basic mistakes, and the drills died almost as quickly as they started.

During a water break, I asked the coach how she kept her composure when such a well-designed practice didn’t seem to be producing results.

She nodded toward the quote she had written on the whiteboard. “My focus,” she said, “is to help them get better.”

Her answer was as profound as it was simple. She starts practice with a focus on improvement, and she stays with that focus no matter what happens. No wonder her team has improved so much this season.

It reminds me of coach John Tortorella, whose New York Rangers just clinched top seed in the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League. He talks about the daily challenge of trying to get a little better.

So does Jim Harbaugh, who led the San Francisco 49ers to the NFL playoffs last year.

It turns out that the “power of focus” applies not only to athletes, but to their coaches as well.

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