RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

Target Fixation

Jul 15, 2012 View Comments by

Target fixation is a term I’m sure everyone is familiar with. It originated in Word War II as a means to help pilots avoid crashing during strafing runs. Applied to motorcycling, it basically means that your motorcycle tends to go wherever you focus your attention. If you approach a turn and stare at the shoulder, that’s where you’ll likely end up. Stare at an obstacle and you’ll most likely hit it. The lesson new riders are taught is, when initiating a turn, to look to the exit point and not directly ahead or to the shoulder. Look where you want to go, not at what you wish to avoid.

Target fixation is equally applicable in everyday life. Think about what you want to avoid and that negativity may lead you directly where you don’t want to go. Are you looking at potential negatives for reasons not to do something? Are you looking at what’s possible or are you listening to others who are afraid, and for whom your success represents a threat? Are you plagued by “what if’s”? It’s better to look where you desire to go, point your life in that direction; to decide to move toward something bigger and to be excited about where that simple decision will lead you.

Model your decision on people who’ve made similar decisions, whether it’s someone you know or someone famous. To quote Steve Jobs “you are already naked, there is no reason not to follow your heart”. I’ve been blessed to be influenced by people like that in my life, and in the past few years I’ve begun to see the light, to begin fixating on the right targets. It’s surprising what happens when the focus goes from what is wrong to what is possible and what you want.

Failure is always a possibility but failure, like success, is relative. To have tried and failed, fallen and risen and tried again is admirable. One of my favorite quotes is by Theodore Roosevelt: “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat”. I read that quote in a book by former world marathon record holder Derek Clayton about 25 years ago and never forgot it. Target fixation can work for you or against you. On motorcycles and in life, the choice is ours.


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About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.