A few weeks before the 2012 college football season was set to kick-off, I was having lunch with a good friend of mine who happens to be a USC graduate. Since his favorite team was ranked atop several of the polls, he was obviously excited about their prospects of winning the national championship. The conversation naturally flowed to the point where he asked my opinion about the Trojans.
I told him that I thought they were in trouble for a few of reasons (only one of which I will be covering in this blog entry). By chance, I had read an article in the LA Times a few days prior about Matt Barkley teaching LA Times columnist T.J. Simers how to use a twitter account, and noticed a quote from Barkley that I found disturbing. Simers asked “Now if I’m sitting at one of your games and you’ve just thrown an interception …,” when Barkley interrupts and says “I don’t think that will happen this year,” said with a straight face.
Now on the surface this sounds like youthful bravado, but to me it showed a result orientation inside Barkley’s mindset, which more often than not leads to disappointment. Focusing on results can also lead to perfectionism which produces less than optimum production, as well as repeated letdowns. Meanwhile a process orientation enables you to deal with things as they come, so you are able to grow and thrive. When you focus on the process you relieve internal pressure and more often than not exceed your goals.
Let me be clear, I have no problem with Matt Barkley having a goal of not throwing an interception this season. However proclaiming that he does not think it will happen, is at best naïve (how many top college QB’s have ever gone through an entire season without throwing an interception?)
I always say goals help and expectations hurt. Once you set a goal, you can set up processes/steps to reach it. All expectations do is add unnecessary internal pressure which makes you press and play tight when things are not going your way. You have to control what you can control and let go of everything else. Matt Barkley can control the reads he makes and where he delivers the ball, but he can’t control whether the ball is caught by his intended target or if it flies off the receivers fingers right into a defensive backs hands.
Now you’re probably wondering… Where does Korean rapper Psy fit into all of this? He’s a great example of what can happen if you focus on the process. When he made his hit music video Gangnam Style, he was not aiming to be the highest viewed video on YouTube or hoping it would become a world wide sensation. He was just focused on making a video he thought was funny and one that the Korean people would like. No one was more shocked than he was at the way it spread like a wildfire and in turn has blown up his career.
Likewise, if Matt Barkley can turn his focus away from results and back to the processes needed for improvement, he is likely to surpass his goals eventually. Just like I mistakenly thought I’d never write about a Korean rapper, I’m sure Matt Barkley never thought about asking Psy for football advice either.
Sometimes the best lessons come from the least expected places.
You can follow Sam on Twitter: @SuperTaoInc