I used to take my ability to hyper-focus for granted, thinking it was something everybody could do if they were in my shoes. It isn't a skill learned, nothing I had to study for, it just is. I read something about how sports stars do similar things, when the game is on the line, the roar of the crowd goes silent, the opponents slow down, the net, or puck or ball or hoop gets bigger, or smaller, whichever makes it easier to accomplish what needs to be done to win.
Cops have the same ability, when a gun is drawn and they have to kill or be killed. Some have actually reported that they see their bullets hit their mark, and shoot again as the world goes silent around them, then returns when the danger passes.
I don't have any games to win, or people to shoot, but I do have a life to save every now and then, and the silence that surrounds me when chaos is in the air, and my old man blurry vision suddenly becomes crystal clear is nothing short of a miracle. Studies have been done focusing on people who perform well under stress. It has been documented that the heart beats faster during moments of duress, the optimal rate between 120 and 140 beats per minute. Anything over that and the person in the situation becomes ineffectual. Under 120 indicates the person is in denial.
I'm not denying that I'm often ineffectual. There are a million things I do poorly. "I never shot nobody-don't even carry a gun" (AC/DC lyric that just popped in my head) and the only sport I was any good at is hockey, and even then I was never a first line player, more of a goon, to be honest. But in the back of the ambulance, when the game is on the line, and proverbial guns are blazing there is noplace I'm more at home, with my heart thumping away at about 120.
*this post was inspired by a passage from the book BLINK, by Malcolm Gladwell