We blew off a little steam yesterday at Dave & Busters. My daughter wanted to go have some silly fun and we added a few hours of arcade games to our long list of Saturday errands.
I’m not much of an arcade aficionado. Since the beginning, my parents instilled into me the importance of a dollar and I have never quite been able to reconcile the idea of blowing $75 on tokens to win enough tickets to buy a $10 prize. That said, the entertainment value of the “midway” is likely worth the investment and as I watch my daughter have fun, I know it is money well spent.
So, while my husband and daughter battled out an extended gun battle with zombies, I found myself utterly fascinated by the activities taking place at the “claw” machine a few feet away. A line of young boys were anxiously awaiting their turn to drop the claw into the prize pit and score a big prize. As expected, the machine was loaded with precariously placed stuffed animals, basketballs and the occasional iPad. Time after time, they dropped their tokens into the machine and tried to drop the claw at just the perfect spot to score a winner. No one was winning.
Out of seemingly nowhere, a pint-sized little guy stepped up to take his turn. He was so little, he had to jump up to look over the machine’s decorative edge to peer inside. Clearly, there was something in there he wanted and he took several good looks over the side before positioning himself in front of the controls.
As he dropped his token into the machine and took hold of the joystick, I heard him repeat over and over “Be the Ball…Be the Ball…Be the Ball.” The claw left its perch and with steeled focus, he continued his quiet mantra with fervor. The 45-second timer on the machine counted down as he positioned the claw in the exact spot over his target. “Be the Ball…Be the Ball” continued. All at once, he dropped the claw and held firm; the words continued. As the claw emerged from below, clenched firmly in its arms was a brightly decorated basketball. I wanted to cheer! He had his prize!
As he walked away, I heard the older kids who were watching him go silent. The could not believe what they had just witnessed. I wanted to go grab the little winner and give him a high-five! He totally owned his outcome with the power of his positive self-talk and focus.
How many times do you go into situations convincing yourself you will win? Do you fuel your outcomes with the positive thoughts and affirmations that will guide you to victory? Or, do you let your mind convince you that you will lose before you take even the first step?
Don’t let negative thoughts stand in your way. Learn the lessons from the little arcade master that I saw in action:
1. Focus on your goal. When you know what you want, and are ready to “go for it,” don’t let anything stand in your way. My little clawmaster took several looks into that pile of prizes and knew exactly where he needed to aim his efforts.
2. Ignore the distractions around you. I’m sure that little guy didn’t even notice – or pay attention – to the bigger kids all around him as he worked the joystick to guide the claw toward his prize. The fact that they had all tried repeatedly to win, unsuccessfully, did not deter him. He knew what he needed to do and tuned out the chaos and noise all around as he stepped up to take his turn.
3. Talk positively to yourself. Each time he muttered the words, “Be the Ball” under his breath, I could feel his energy and resolve. He was his own cheerleader, quietly cheering himself with each step toward the goal.
4. Visualize success. While I don’t know what was going through that little guy’s mind, but I was convinced that the claw would emerge up from the pit with a ball in its clutch. Just watching him focus and listening to his words caused me to will that unseen ball to be his prize. I can only imagine that he saw it even more clearly as he pictured his success.
Positive thinking is powerful thinking. Some will scoff and dismiss the benefits as nonsense. I beg to differ. Talking kindly to me and seeing myself in the situation I want to be in only fuels my resolve toward a successful outcome. Talk kindly to yourself as you grab the joystick on your life. You are the one in control and the words you tell yourself, and the focus you give to the game, will only increase the prizes you clutch in the claw.
In the words of my little muse, “Be the Ball.”