Maintaining Your Focus

Dr. Dave Martin



Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!


Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:8, NLT



kwnblk_s_fg-clark-young“What is the most important thing in becoming a winner?” Tony asked one Monday afternoon. His previous week had not gone well, and he was struggling.

I took a moment to reflect. This was the same question so many of my clients ask.

Senior pastors want to know the “breakthrough” point and how to achieve it. Business leaders are searching for the difference that will distinguish their company from the competition, and individual achievers look for the vital ingredient in becoming great.

After several moments, I said, “Tony, tell me about your week.” And he did. In vivid detail, Tony enumerated his difficulties. As a NASCAR driver, Tony had strong competition, and it quickly became obvious that he was disgusted, disillusioned, and altogether distracted.

But he had seen fierce competition before and had not faltered. This was something new, and I needed to know more.

So I said, “Tony, I want to hear about your week again, but this time, please tell me what you were thinking each morning when you arrived at the track. Tell me, where your thoughts led you throughout the day when you were driving and what were your dominant thoughts at night when you were home?”

This took a bit more time as Tony mused over his previous week, but finally he started to talk.

“Dr. Dave, it’s the wall!” He said, with an exasperated sigh. “All I can think about is the wall!”

Tony went on to explain that the primary concern of all new race car drivers is the wall. Nobody wants to hit the wall, especially at 200 miles per hour. He also explained that the centrifugal force of the automobile tends to propel the car directly toward the wall as the car speeds around the track. So the wall is a constant problem for all drivers, but for new drivers, it is the principal fear.

“Consequently,” he explained, “The wall is all the new driver can think about. As he drives faster and faster, he keeps telling himself, ‘Don’t hit the wall. Don’t hit the wall.’”

I stopped him there. “Tony,” I asked, “When you are driving, as you circle the track, are you thinking about winning?”

e-irfds-jfk-andre-willms“Not really—no. No, I’m not.” He reflected more. “Right then, I’m just concentrating on not hitting the wall.”

Tony had lost his focus. He had allowed his thoughts and fears to take his eyes off the primary objective of winning the race, and had become focused instead on avoiding the wall.

NASCAR rookies are actually trained to turn their thoughts away from the wall and onto the infield. Rookie drivers quickly learn that you are drawn toward the thing that dominates your thoughts, and so they deliberately retrain their thinking to focus on the infield instead of the wall. Over time, their thoughts are concentrated on the infield, and as a result, the feeling that they are being pulled toward the wall as they speed around the track is drastically reduced and their crippling fear is disarmed. They become potential winners.

It took months for Tony to completely make the thought swap from the “wall” to the “win,” but, in time, he was able to redirect his thoughts and focus completely on his goal. He is now making headlines in the NASCAR world!

That Monday with Tony clarified a valuable lesson for me, too. In life, just as in NASCAR, we are dominated by the thoughts we choose. No matter what your profession or calling, your thought choice determines your focus, thus becoming the most critical element in your success.
Coaching the Coach Tip:
lmclf825vyi-scott-umstattdSometimes as coaches we spend so much time working on the problems and issues of others that our own focus is lost. It’s easy, both with clients and in our own lives, to concentrate on the problem and to lose sight of the win. I repeatedly tell my clients, “The key is to know your goal and not to be distracted by the peripherals. Keep your eyes on the prize. You are dominated by the thoughts you choose.”

Our thoughts determine our focus, so like Paul’s instruction to the Philippians, we should daily “think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

And know, “The rest of your life will be the best of your life!”

Dr. Dave Martin is known by many around the world as America’s #1 Christian Success Coach and he speaks regularly at churches, colleges, corporations and conferences. He is the author of several best-selling books including ‘The 12 Traits of the Greats’ and ‘The Force of Favor’. Dr. Dave is founder and president of Dave Martin International which exists to serve the local church, business organizations, leaders and individuals. Along with several other board positions, Dr. Dave currently sits on the advisory Board of Joel Osteen’s Champions Network; and he works hard to give back, to be a blessing, and to sow into the lives of others.
shaffer_georgiaGeorgia Shaffer, M.A., is a professional speaker, certified Life Coach and the author of four books including Coaching the Coach: Lessons from Christian Coaches. She is is a regular columnist for Christian Coaching Today and a board member of the International Christian Coaches Association (ICCA). Georgia is on the teaching team of AACC’s Professional Life Coaching Training. She specializes in coaching coaches, women and communicators To find out more, visit

This entry was posted in Coaching Blog. Bookmark the permalink.