Keep Your Eye On the Goal

set and reach goal concept

One of the most fascinating gymnastic training practices I’ve ever seen is how young girls (boys don’t do the beam because of the risk of injury) are taught how to do tricks on a balance beam. The greatest obstacle to a new gymnast when they get on a balance beam is the fear of falling. In competition the balance beam, a 4-inch wide and 8-foot long and approximately 5-inch deep wooden beam covered in faux suede or leather stands a little over 4-feet high. But to teach young gymnasts how to navigate and perform on the beam coaches start them off walking and performing on a line drawn on the floor. Later, they’re moved up to a 4-inch wide board on the floor, then to a beam standing only 18-inches off of the floor, and then to the full competition beam at its 4-foot height. The coaches have temporarily removed the obstacle—height.

By removing the obstacle, or doing something to keep them from focusing on it, coaches allow the girls to develop confidence in their skills and learn to keep their eye on the goal rather than the fear. Many children learn to ride bikes by using training wheels, and airline pilots often become certified to fly a plane on a simulator before they ever fly the actual model they’ve become certified on.

Focusing on the goal, not on the fear, is how we learn to do our jobs, perfect our skills and train ourselves. These things aren’t safety nets, they’re training techniques. If you’re feeling uncertain and focused on failure rather than making the sale, find a way to remove or reduce the fear during the training process for yourself or your sales team. Maybe you can do the presentation and a partner can help with negotitation. Maybe you can practice your pitch on family and friends before calling on a stranger. Whatever you create, realize it’s not a crutch; it’s a training tool. Use those tools to strengthen your pitch and master your close so you feel confident at every stage.


“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” — Henry Ford

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