“We start off with the big idea that human beings are mission specific as a species,” says Jack Groppel, Ph.D., a fellow at the American College of Sports Medicine. “When we’re aligned with a mission that really matters to us, we’re unstoppable.” Sound hokey? Not so fast. Groppel and his team of researchers set out to prove that when an individual truly aligns with a goal, he’s more likely to see it through.
In his study, Groppel had two groups of people—professional football players and then FBI field agents—attempt to touch a white fence approximately one mile away. Before they set out, however, both groups were warned that dangerous wild boars had been spotted between the starting point and the fence. The result? When the football players were confronted with a wild animal (in the form of researchers shaking bushes and making their best wild boar noises), they turned and ran. When the FBI agents were presented with the same threat, they squared off, assessed the situation, and continued on toward their goal.
Groppel attributes this to the FBI agents committing themselves to the mission on four levels of involvement: physical, emotional, mental, and, lastly, alignment with the goal. “The football players had the physical energy,” Groppel explains. “But they could not touch the white fence because it was our mission imposed on them. When they heard the noise in the bushes, touching the white fence was not that important. The FBI agents touched the white fence because our mission became their mission.”
Want to know how you can turn your goals into missions as the FBI agents did? Check out Groppel’s six best tips on how you can reach your own white fence, whether it’s professional, personal, athletic, or otherwise.