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What 9/11 Can Teach us about Focus and Success

Two weeks ago, I was boarding a flight from LA to Atlanta. I had been gone for almost a week and was eager to get home and hug my wife and son. The only thing different about this day was that it was 9/11.

The news was full of heart wrenching 9/11 stories, ISIS terrorism, the threat of a possible attack on US soil or even a plane hijacking. America was on edge, and there was a sense of unease amongst the passengers.

As we took off, my mind raced. What if we get hijacked and crash into a building? What if I never get to see my family again? The fear got the best of me. One second I was excited to get home, and the next, I was full of dread as I pondered the “what-if’s.”

I quickly realized what was happening and shifted my focus. I put on my headphones, cranked up some energizing music, and perused photos of my son on my IPhone. Within an instant, I was in a better place. I went from focusing on fear to focusing on joy. Which do you think felt better?

Life is full of challenges. The missiles of adversity will come. While they may not be as serious as 9/11, sooner or later, they will strike. You may lose the sale. You’ll get turned down for the promotion. The market will crash. You’ll have a health scare. Bad news will come. That’s not to say you shouldn’t prepare for challenges. (We need to be realists.) But focusing on fear and on life’s “9/11’s” will rob you of joy and can sap you of the energy, passion and courage needed to perform at your very best.

Each day, we have a choice to focus on our fears and doubts or on our passions and joys. And that choice has to be intentional. It takes discipline not to get distracted by the news, the naysayers, or the doubts in our head. But success requires us to be in control of our aircraft and keep our heading towards what makes us happy!

I believe survivors focus on threats and winners focus on targets.

Survivors stagnate. Survivors play it safe. Survivors get distracted. Survival is never fun. Winners take risks. Winners are disciplined. Winners break through barriers and take action.

Are you a survivor or a winner? Are you focused on the missiles or are you focused on your goals?

As we head into the last few months of 2014, I challenge you to transform your fear into focus. Each day, do your best to maintain a disciplined focus on what you really want. Keep your eyes on the prize and focus on the good. Make sure you have headphones and photos around to fill your head and heart with the music of peace and happiness. And also make sure you have positive wingmen in your formation to keep you on target.

I guarantee when you do, you’ll face each day with courage, hope and optimism. Most importantly, you’ll become more peaceful, content and joyous. Which, BTW, isn’t a bad way to define success.

Fly, Fight and Win


Our Motto in the US Air Force is NOT “Fly, Fight and Survive.”
It’s Fly, Fight and Win!”  –