Issue 43: Tangents w/out Trivia

I’m sure that you have all heard many people talk about the “Power of Positive Thinking.” Not a new idea really! Over 150 years ago Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke of it in his writing, ” …a law determines all phenomena… That law, when in the mind, is an idea.”

Neville Goddard, an early 20th century minister and metaphysician put it pretty well by saying, “It’s not what you want that you attract. You attract what you believe to be true.”

This somewhat mysterious and vaguely religious theory really took off in 1952 when Norman Vincent Peale wrote the book, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” which eventually spawned about a billion self-improvement books, audio self help tapes, and attitude seminars!

Does what you think really affect what happens around you?

Let’s perform a little experiment, a sort of “field test” of the theory of positive thinking!

At almost every sport kite competition I attend, I like to volunteer for the staff assignment of Field Director for the Novice Class events! I try to help the beginning fliers, some of whom may be on that competition field for the very first time! I’ve been doing the FD’s job for about twenty years now, so from that experience I know what will help the flier.

I know what info they’re going to need. Things like time cues, their position on the field, and the order of compulsories if it’s a precision event. But more importantly, I try to make them comfortable, and at ease, because by the time they make it to the center of the field and my position, they’re pretty nervous. It’s sort of like Stage Fright! If they can get past it they usually will fly well. My job is to help them ‘Think Positively.’

When the flier makes it out to me, I exchange the technical and official info I’m supposed to with them. The judges never seem to be ready and I’ll engage the flier in some ‘conversation’ to distract them while they nervously wait to start their routine.

“Where you from?”
“How do you feel?”
“Nice kite! Did you make it?”
“Do you think you’re ready?”

Some fliers just ignore me! They don’t want to be distracted with ‘idle chit chat’ before they compete and I shut up! That’s OK and their right!

But some fliers do take the opportunity to talk while they wait on the judges! They talk about the wind, or that they hope they picked the right kite for the conditions. Many of them talk about their routine or one of the particularly difficult precision maneuvers they’ll have to fly.

One of the phrases I hear pretty often out on those Novice Fields is, “I hope I don’t Crash?”
Some fliers are really compulsive about it and talk about the dread of an unplanned “landing.” Or another worry is, “I hope that I don’t screw up the three axles in my routine”

My usual answer to a fliers ‘Crash Talk’ is “Don’t worry, you’ll do fine” or “It’s going to be OK!”

Sometimes they listen to me and I do a good job of getting them to ‘Think Positive.’ Many times though, my encouragement doesn’t work.

Over the last twenty years out on those competition fields, I’ve kept track of the results of a Novice saying, “I hope I don’t crash!” To quote Neville Goddard, “It’s not what you want that you attract. You attract what you believe to be true.” Nearly seven out of every ten fliers that have said, “I hope I don’t crash!” Did Crash. That’s 70% of the fliers who thought about something enough to really affect what happens around them. Oh, there are fliers who talk about crashes and go on to win the event. Good statistics? Not really! Just Al’s Theory!

But on the other side of the coin, I have seen quite a lot of fliers that come out to the field confident and ready to fly, not the least bit nervous. When I ask how they feel, they say something like, “I practiced, I know my routine, I’m ready as I’ll ever be.”

These fliers usually do pretty well. They walk off the field with a smile, even if they didn’t fly to a first place. They had the right attitude and maybe just a little “Positive Thinking.” Of course I’ve also seen confident, positive attitude fliers compete like ‘dog do’ and come in last. Good statistics? Not really! Just Al’s Theory!

Is positive thinking going to help you to become National Champion? Well, it couldn’t hurt your chances. One thing is for sure. You’ll feel a lot better after you walk off of that comp field if you walk onto it with the right Attitude!

But the worst and most dreaded phrase I hate to hear from a flier coming out to the field who is saying to me, “I do a lot of running around in my routine, I hope I don’t run into you and hurt you when I do the running!

Good Winds,