Kate told me to aim for the centre.
No matter what, every time aim for the gold
I missed again. Then again and again, until I was finally out of arrows.
All the other Archers we’re a similar level to me. This was my first lesson on a traditional long-bow at Archery Fit in London. For the past few months I had been shooting with an Olympic Recurve bow – a completely different animal.
The other archers had mixed success. Some had struck gold (well, the yellow actually), others had hit red, blue or black. There were some who had missed the target completely.
You could feel the weight of the room become heavy, as the group began to vent their frustrations. Fascinatingly, many not only cursed their ability (or lack of skill) but also themselves.
Kate gave the command, “Safe to collect.”
We walked to the end of the range. I analysed where I had hit the target. My arrows had landed consistently in a group on the target, just not where I wanted them to be.
I collected my arrows and walked back to my mark.
I knew what I was doing wrong, but I didn’t know how to correct it. So I asked for help.
Kate, told me where to aim if my arrows were drifting to the left, and slightly high. But not to adjust my technique.
She gave the command, “Safe to shoot.”
Those words stuck in my mind.
You know that thing you’ve always wanted to do? Get in better shape, train for that 10k or marathon? Compete in that competition but didn’t?
What if it was “safe to shoot?” What would your life be like then, how different would it be?
What if you simply aimed for the centre, no matter where your arrows landed, you kept going until you had nothing left to shoot.
So many times in life we attempt something, then when we don't achieve what we want we immediately change our approach. They say that the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result - but could the rush to change things be the very reason we delay our own success?
In her thick Russian accent, Kate explained to me,
“If you always aim for the centre, even if you don’t hit the gold it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we get your arrows in a grouping. Once they are in a nice group we adjust and learn to compensate so that we can move the grouping closer to the centre – this is what matters.”
You see, if I adjust after every attempt and I hit the target, but my results are all over the place, it's far more difficult to identify exactly what went wrong, and what variable needs to be adjusted.
Sometimes we need to fail consistently (rather than erratically). This type of feedback can be invaluable.
Now it’s “Safe to collect.”
Collect what we have learned, adjust, adapt, improvise and overcome. Make the necessary changes, (and this is key – so many simply don’t want to, or refuse to make the necessary changes).
How many times have you stopped short of your goal and not reached your target because you’ve become frustrated, disheartened and thought yourself a failure?
There’s no shame in it – we’ve all done it as some point in our lives in one area or another. I know I certainly have in the past. But what if there was another way?
Rather than doing it half arsed, we went all in. We aimed for the centre and didn’t stop until we had fired every arrow.
It’s easy to pretend that it doesn’t matter. To beat ourselves up, rather than just adjust our approach.
But what if…
We stuck to that six month nutrition plan - for six months, not three. How great would you feel?
You stayed with the fitness program for a year. Not a week. How much more different would you look?
You worked with your therapist for a year, not just one session..
That financial plan.. .you see where I am going with this right?
When we truly understand that we are not our performance, it gives us the opportunity to master our reactive self, the judge, jury and executioner that lurks in the corner of our mind, so that we can one day aim for the centre and hit gold.
Having an objective feedback loop is key.
"There is no excellence in archery without great labour."
Plus it's always handy to have a good coach!