When I put on my suit, get on my bike and make my way to the start line, my brain is free of every single thought apart from those directly linked to my riding of the bike. I can isolate everything else, nerves don't bother me, I don't even think, once that visor comes down, that my reputation, or my title, or even my career might be at stake.
That quote was taken from Valentino Rossi's autobiography. He's an Italian professional motorcycle racer and multiple MotoGP World Champion. He is one of the most successful motorcycle racers of all time, with 7 Grand Prix World Championships to his name.
Rossi’s record in the motorcycle road racing World Championship is supreme. First in the ultra-competitive 125 class starting in 1996; then in the 250 class only to graduate shortly thereafter to the big league of the 500s. In 2002 the premier class switched direction moving from 500 cc two-strokes to 990 cc four-strokes from then on to be known as MotoGP. Rossi rides for Honda and wins. He wins on a Honda the next year and then switches to Yamaha, to every race fans’ surprise, and wins against all odds. He wins again in 2005. No one is close. No one is faster. And all at speeds which approach 200 mph.
I like to read the story of people's life to know how they deal with challenges or make crucial decisions. It's best to try everything by ourselves but sometime it's wiser to learn from someone's experience. On that quote Rossi teaches us the true meaning of focus. There are always challenges and external factors that can disturb our mind, but when it is time to race, we should be able to isolate everything else. This is similar with the concept I ever mentioned before, in the moment, where we should focus on what we have in hand even we have so many options and plans for the future.
Taken from Kung Fu Panda: 'Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift. That is why they call it a present.'
So for those who will take your CCIE lab, even you are not going to race beyond 200 mph but during the lab day you should forget all the pressures such as "company has paid for three times", "please pass this time or you need to find another job", "baby we have withdrawn all our savings for this attempt" "how come he's much younger and he passed in first attempt only" and so on. To be frank, I was in this situation once where I had to pass or the company may kick me out, or at least wouldn't give me another chance.
Thinking about those during the lab day won't help at all. It's better to put the visor down and just start racing.
And btw, Rossi's decision to move from Honda in the end of 2003, where he has won three world title with them, to Yamaha team is still considered as one of the most brave decision in history. He didn't like the fact people started thinking that to win the title you need to ride superior Honda, and he proved it by moving to a lame Yamaha team at that time and won another two world champions.
Now that's really inspiring.
I recommend to read his book even you don't know what the heck MotoGP is.
"Just think, what if I had never raced motorbikes. How things would have been so different. Just think, what if I had never tried it." - Valentino Rossi