The Focusing On The Goal Rather Than The Goalkeeper Approach

What are the situations where you naturally focus on the goal, rather than the goalkeeper?

These are activities where you have a positive approach and see possibilities. Certainly there may be challenges, but you feel able to find positive solutions to problems. Here are the kinds of answers that people give to these questions.

I focus on the goal, rather
than the goalkeeper, when I am:

Aiming to beat my sales target … Enjoying life whilst also coping with illnesses … Renovating houses … Serving the song when singing to audiences … Doing complicated surgery … Leading a team towards achieving success.

Peak performers tend to be positive realists in the activities where they excel. They have a positive attitude, but also read reality. They focus on the goal, but also make back up plans for preventing or, if necessary, managing difficulties.

Looking at your own life, what are the activities in which you see opportunities, rather than get bogged down by the obstacles? How do you aim to maximise the opportunities? How do you, if necessary, find ways around the obstacles?

Why do you have this feeling? Writing in The Survivor Personality, Al Siebert explained that some people have what he called personal radar. They have:


They see patterns quickly. Going into the situation where they excel, they go ‘A, B … and leap to … Z’. They quickly see the required results.


They have a vast repertoire of experience, knowledge and skills they can draw upon to achieve the required results.


They reach into their repertoire to apply the right strategy and skills. They then keep working until they achieve the required results.

Where do you experience some of these feelings? You may be counselling people, designing a garden, solving a maths problem or whatever. You feel at home and, whatever happens, feel able to do your best to achieve the goal.

Can you think of a situation where you kept focusing on the goal? You may have been leading a project, producing a website, directing a play or whatever. What did you do right then to reach your aim?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to explore the following themes.

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Focusing on the goal, rather
than the goalkeeper, in the future

Looking ahead, are there any situations where you may want to follow these principles in the future? There are two main approaches to making this happen. Let’s explore the first approach.

Putting yourself into more situations
where you naturally focus on the goal

Different people do this in different ways. One person explained:

“I love presenting wildlife films on television. Whilst I qualified as a vet, I prefer to create unusual films that raise people’s awareness about wildlife.

“I love developing quirky projects, selling the ideas to television and filming the animals. I even enjoy digging toilets in the bush.

“Returning to the studio, I enjoy putting together the stories and doing the voice overs. Finally, I like presenting the programmes and, when appropriate, engaging with people using social media.

“My focus is always on the finished product, even if this may develop as we go along. I was once put in hospital after being attacked by an animal in the bush. We kept the cameras rolling, however, and the attack added colour to the final film.

“Ten years ago I spent a year working in a big organisation. Most of my days were spent trying to get ideas past the gatekeepers, rather than filming animals.

“I eventually left to resume freelance activities. Now I get on with making films that, I hope, help others to appreciate wildlife.”

One approach is to put yourself into more of the situations where you are in your element – at ease and able to excel. Another approach is to clarify the principles you follow in such situations. It is then to take the next step.

Following your successful
principles for focusing on the goal

You can, if appropriate, focus on the deeper outcomes you want to achieve, rather than the obstacles. This can be challenging, but it can also lead to breakthroughs.

Here is one example. Some of my work involves working with performing artists. One singer said:

“I feel at ease when I am serving the song, rather than trying to impress the audience.

“Before the performance I find a place where I can feel calm, breathe deeply and focus on the end result. I want to give everything to the song and help the audience to enjoy a deep experience.

“Going on stage, I try to be both fully present and yet also follow the journey towards the end goal. When that happens, it is magical.

“Actors talk about ‘Doctor Theatre’. This is the place where, as an actor, their troubles disappear. This happens for me when I serve the song and I feel healed after the performance.”

The singer faced a challenge in her personal life. She was midway through treatment for a difficult illness. Whilst the prognosis was promising, she naturally spent much of her time focusing on the illness.

Looking at her whole life, however, she had many assets. She had a lovely son, an enjoyable career and many friends.

Like many people who build on their assets whilst experiencing an illness, she decided to refocus her energy. She chose:

To focus on a positive purpose, such as to live a good life.

To be calm, breathe deeply and care for her health.

To do things that gave her positive energy, such as encouraging her son, giving to people and writing songs.

To perform more songs that took audiences to special places where they could fully appreciate life.

To focus on the good things in life whilst continuing to have treatment for the illness.

She aimed to follow these principles each day. The treatment worked, but further doses would be needed over the forthcoming years. She felt more optimistic, however, and aimed to concentrate on the important things in life.

Looking at your own life, how can you continue to focus on the goal? You may wish to put yourself into more situations where you do this naturally. You may also wish, when appropriate, to pursue the successful principles when tackling other challenges.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation where you may want to focus on the goal, rather than the goalkeeper.

Describe the specific things you can do to focus on the goal.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things – both for yourself and other people.

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