Every choice we make is binary, either yes or no, one or zero. You have to be aware of your mindset to make wise choices. Accidents and smart choices can lead to many “once in a lifetime experiences.” Let’s focus on what we can control, the smart choice.
Almost all of your best decisions will not appear good when you make them. It takes patience, as the best choices are not obvious except in hindsight. Remember, everything makes sense in retrospect. I am sure you have heard of the power of compounding when it comes to investments. The same compounding principle applies in the effects on your day-to-day choices. I was lucky enough to spend a semester on sabbatical at Dr. Dan Ariely’s Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University back in 2014. His first book’s title says it all: Predictably Irrational, The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decision. The goal here is to be patient and make better yes/no decisions at work, at home, and in life.
Your mindset is a powerful tool that is always at your disposal.
The personal experience I’m about to share helps illustrate this concept. After graduating from high school back in 1971, I qualified for the quarter-mile at the state track meet in Iowa. Even though I qualified in the district for state, I was not a threat to win at the state meet, and I didn’t. Three weeks later, there was an AAU track meet at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, that my two best friends and I entered. My best event was the quarter-mile (pre-metric days). During practice runs, I noticed that Bruce Jenner and one of his teammates from Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa were at the meet for training runs. By then, Bruce Jenner was an up-and-coming top decathlete globally and would qualify for the 1972 Olympic team in the decathlon. As I approached the start line, I saw he was competing in the quarter-mile. Even though the quarter was not his best event (he eventually turned 47.5 in 1976), past performance proved, he could easily run in the low 50s. My best time to date was 52.
So I decided I would stay as close to him for as long as possible.
My strategy was to settle in behind him on his right shoulder, and as we went around the turn and hit the backstretch, I had a change in mindset. I decided, what the heck, I was going to pass him and stay ahead as long as possible. I passed him and never looked back (mostly because I was afraid to see where he was). I felt a huge burst of adrenaline, hit the tape in 49.76, and beat him by about 15 feet. He most likely was targeting a training time, probably 50 in hindsight, but I just had the race of my life. My change in mindset allowed me to perform at a level I didn’t think possible. After that, I moved on to longer road races. That was the last quarter mile I ever raced. For me, this event was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What is your story, and how do you share it? Your story will compound with smart choices, awarding you with “once in a lifetime experiences.” My wish for you is a life full of once in a lifetimes.