The power of one sentence

The first time I heard about this I was unconvinced.  I suspect you might feel the same way.  What difference could one phrase, repeated over and over, actually have?  Call it what you want (meditation/focused thought/the voice in your head) but basically it involves focusing on one key phrase when finding yourself in that moment of crisis.

You are tempted to not do your tutorial but rather watch TV.  You are tempted to look at the solution while you are writing the practice question.  In those moments, when the heat is on, you need a phrase that will connect you with your purpose.  These phrases are used by Olympic athletes, Navy Seals and a variety of other top performers.  Ideally they quickly reconnect you to your long-term goals and inspire you to dig deep and choose the harder but better choice.

Here are some of the phrases that I have encouraged my students to use over the years.

“What’s Important Now?”

This phrase comes for a high school rugby coach from New Zealand.  His teams won a lot of games over many decades.  This question is designed to make you focus on the moment.  Take exam time for instance – there are many other things you could be doing without lectures and tutorials to attend.  Not all of them will help you pass though.  “What’s Important Now?” reminds you to stay focussed on your goal.  It also can be shortened to WIN, which is nice.

“Fill the glass“

Louis Zamperini, the star of the movie Unbroken, is a hero of mine.  He completed in the Olympics, survived 3 weeks stranded at sea and years of torture during WWII.  He had the following to say: “”People tell me, “You’re such an optimist”. Am I an optimist? An optimist says the glass is half full. A pessimist says the glass is half empty. A survivalist is practical. He says, “Call it what you want, but just fill the glass.” I believe in filling the glass.”  Enough said.  When in doubt, fill the glass, get on with it!

“No excuses

This final one is probably my favourite.  A lot of things will make achieving the CA(SA) qualification tough.  Family, health, financial – the list of possible issues is long.  A huge number of these things can throw us off our goals.  I am greatly encouraged when a student sits in my office, takes responsibility for poor performance, lists a bunch of obstacles they are facing, and then says “How can I overcome these?”  By taking responsibility, they are taking ownership and are much more likely to succeed.  “No excuses” does not mean nothing bad will ever happen, it just means that these things will not have the final word.

Studying to be a CA(SA) is a challenge and there are many moments when you will feel like taking the easy road.  I don’t know what phrase will work best but can I encourage you to find one. Meditate on it.  Let it help you stay focused.

Paul Maughan

One Comment

  1. This is very true and appropriate. My motivational phrase was from a series called Friday Night Lights: “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!”. While it may mean nothing to others, I found that it helped me maintain focus and motivation through the tough times and celebrate the good times! I always encouraged students and tutlings to adopt their own motivational phrases to help them focus/refocus when needed.

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