Guest Post by Riley Jensen

As a young man, I loved to be around my Grandpa Clark. He was a legend in our family. He served honorably in World War II in Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battles during that war. He had two children at home and a wife who missed him dearly.  However, he was not just a legend in our family because he served in the war, he was a legend in our family because of his mindset and his enthusiasm for life, and because he had one liners for almost every situation imaginable. 

When I was young, we were preparing for a short trip to a lake.  I remember him getting after my Dad (his son-in-law) about something trivial while getting ready for this trip.

He said to my Dad,

“Jensen, we’ve got work to do, quit straightening chairs on the titanic.”

This comment was followed by a hearty laugh, and a quick refocus on what was important at that moment. I remember asking my Dad what it meant later, and him explaining that he was wasting time and Grandpa needed his help. I had not really heard of the Titanic at that point in my life.


This story to me is reminiscent of another parable. There was an older man on a journey who was very hungry and came upon a field. In the field he could see a dog jumping, racing, barking, panting, and disappearing into the grass each time he surfaced. Initially, the man stayed back thinking that the dog had gone mad.

He used the pathway that was paved to traverse the field, keeping an eye on the crazed dog to make sure that it did not harm him. Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, the dog appeared in front of the man with a jackrabbit in his jaws. He gave the man a glance, and trotted away with dinner in his jaws. 

The man was still hungry. He had decided it would be nice to have a rabbit for dinner as well. “Here goes nothing!” he said to himself. He jumped, raced, panted, barked, and elevated in and out of the grass in hopes of catching a rabbit. (3)At the end of the day, he was still hungry, and enormously tired. He felt he had learned a lesson. Chasing rabbits just doesn’t work for him. 

Two lessons evolve from the Titanic and from the parable of the Jack Rabbit. 

1) In the case of the Titanic, it is important to realize that we often focus on things that are not very important.

Focusing on the chairs of the Titanic is about as non-productive as one could be if you are on a ship that is going down. The problem is, some of the people that were straightening chairs were probably under the impression that the Titanic was only experiencing a little bit of turbulence. As Tom Brady has said many times, “Most people are average because they work hard on things that don’t matter.” Are you working on the right things? Are you pursuing the right goals?

2) In the case of the man and the jack rabbit, what did the man do wrong?

He acted as though he was chasing a rabbit, but there was no rabbit in sight! Duplicating the dog did NOT produce a rabbit, and it actually kept him far away from getting a rabbit.

If you want a rabbit, you will have to leave the well groomed path, but before you start barking, jumping, and panting, make sure you have a rabbit in sight.

In other words, be S.M.A.R.T. about goal setting. 

S—Specific.

It is important to be extremely specific about your goals. Who do you need help from? Where does it need to happen? What is the desired result? When should you start? Where do you start? The answers to these questions can be extremely beneficial.

M—Measurable.

Can you measure the results of your success? If not, it is not clear and precise enough. If you want to lose 10 pounds, you have got to lose 1 pound first. Ask yourself, how will you determine success? What can you track along the way? How will you know that the mission has been accomplished?

A—Attainable.

Good goals are there to make you stretch. Bad goals can be crushing because they are not realistic, or they are too large. In the military they ask all the time, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The goal may be to eat the elephant, but you need to start small. 

R—Relevant.

Is the goal worth your time? Is it realistic? Is it a win-win? Can I make it a priority? Answering these questions is worth the time because it will determine whether you have the time. 

T – Time-Bound.

You must give yourself a timeline. Goals that have a deadline take priority. Goals without a deadline get lost in the shuffle. 

Remember, you are the captain of your own ship. You are the CEO of your own life. Be smart. Have a plan. Work your plan. Be courageous. Be brave. Be resilient. And most importantly, be flexible and adaptable. 

Riley Jensen is a Sports Psychologist and Mental Performance Coach. He’s currently the mental performance coach for Weber State University Athletics, Westminster College, various Ski Teams, Utah Jazz Ticket Sales organization and more. He is available for corporate, team, and individual sessions. You can find more information about Riley at www.rileyjensenconsulting.com, or follow him on Twitter: @rileyjensen, Instagram:@rileyjensenconsulting, and Facebook, Riley Jensen Consulting. You can also listen to his podcast: Riley Jensen, Mindset Matters Podcast