I figured now would be as good of a time as any to look at a goal that I achieved and the steps that I took to achieve this goal. Maybe this insight will help others when it comes to the process of not just setting the bar, but the incremental time and effort you need to put in for victory.
In 2006, three weeks into my fall league in Gardner, MA I bowled a perfect 300 game. For years I had thrown many more strikes in a row at one time, including 18 between two games- yet never thrown a perfect game. 5 other times previous I started with 9 strikes in a row- starting 2 years earlier- and rolled games of 299, 289, 298, 279 and 266.
I had to look at my tendencies when each time I didn’t fulfill the goal. Usually I would let nervousness set in or try to look ahead of the accomplishment- working on the end result before I even got to the 10th or 11th strike. In the case of the 299 game, I threw the 12th ball much faster. The 298 game the ball reacted quicker because I threw it slower, going through the head pin quicker for a small split. The 279 game would be a ringing corner pin, which can be a naural occurence. The 266 game was a pocket split again, a result of faster ball speed, less revolutions on the bowling ball and the deflection that occurs from both. The 289 game the ball hooked early again in the 11th.
When I finally threw a 300 game, I took all of these previous experiences into my memory bank and tried to stay in the moment only for the next frame. Since I knew getting to the 10th and 11th frame would not be an issue, I stayed with the same pre-shot routine, framing my thoughts in a positive or neutral manner (focus, breathe, soft, release). In the 12th frame this time, I made an adjustment outside of target for two reasons. One, I knew the room was there to get the ball to recover to the pocket due to drier boards that night outside of where I was playing. Two, this would help me compensate for my faster ball speed. I felt like the game was slowing down in my mind, and I could see the shot carrying for a strike before it even happened. I didn’t celebrate until the final 10 pin fell into the pit.
The thousands of games previous set me up for this special game. I had to throw other shots both good and bad to know what needed to happen for 12 consecutive strikes in one game. I think as you get your physical abilities down, the game of bowling becomes more mental than physical. Learning to focus on my tasks at hand and tuning every other distraction out helped- I didn’t blame the other bowlers, the crowd behind me, the noise from the front desk, or the kids running around behind the setee area. I just looked at my target, the lane and the four steps I needed to take in my approach to deliver the best release I could make.
I’ve learned you need to frame your requests in a neutral or positive light- because if you focus on what you don’t want, you won’t get it. How many times could I have said “don’t throw it fast” or “don’t tug the ball to your target” and what would have happened? I spent at least 30 minutes a day visualizing these experiences outside of a bowling center, so I knew how it would feel when I got to that special day.
In years past, jealousy entered when I saw other people who had less years in the game or less experience throw a perfect game before me. I had to learn to let that go. Whatever happens when it comes to your goal achieving happens because of your own personal effort and ability, not on the outside circumstances that are out of your control. Once I relaxed, confident that my talent would take over, then I achieved the perfect game- and have done it twice since in the following years.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code- and taking notes on it tonight should help me in achieving my next bowling goal of a sanctioned 800 series. Once again I’ve come close on 6 occasions- the highest being a 798 to end the 2006-2007 bowling season. Even with 36 frames available, I have to chunk down the goal to its minimal point, then build it up by staying in the moment- one shot at a time.
So this week, take a lifelong goal and break it down into its smallest parts, then build on it day by day until you achieve it. Look outside of yourself if you have to, seek out experts and additional skills or resources you may need to realize the dream. Believe the world is in your favor for you to make it come true.