“I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.” — Zig Ziglar
Focus is considered similar to concentration by many writers, in a list of 124 quotations on focus found on sources of insight, many refer to concentration. But true focus goes beyond concentration. If concentration is a tactic, then focus is a strategy. In a military analogy, concentration might win a battle but focus is needed to win the war.
Most of us can easily concentrate for short periods on things that entertain us, movies, sports, books, learning a new skill that excites our curiosity. Some of those may be educational, be good for us, be a rewarding use of our time. But on their own they are unlikely to change our lives or the lives of others.
For that we need the ability to focus and to know why we are doing what we do. If we want to be a world-class musician, to inspire thousands with our music, it’s not enough to concentrate on learning the basics of playing a musical instrument. We would have to continue, for years or a lifetime, to attain true mastery. That requires laser sharp focus and unrelenting determination.
If our mission is to build a business that will touch thousands of lives, perhaps generate a huge income to improve our own lives and help the community, then we need focus to sustain us through the ups and downs of building a business. To reinforce our determination to overcome setbacks, hurdles, the inevitable failures that accompany most business journeys.
The third question I posed at the end of the previous post was:
Do you resist distractions or secretly welcome them as an escape from focusing?
The more I read about focus, comments and updates in social media, articles in old media and observe life in general, the more I believe that distractions are not the primary problem. I think for many of us, myself included at times, we welcome distractions as an escape from focusing. At the same time, we complain about them and use them as an excuse for not achieving our goals. We become focused on the distractions.
Schedules, a discerning approach to filtering out digital distractions, organising your working environment and habits are all important in helping you focus, but they are not enough. The website Brainpickings reports on how highly productive writers have gone to extraordinary lengths to remove themselves from distractions, establish routines and arrange their lives to help them focus. Maya Angelou walked to a sparsely furnished hotel room which she used solely for her morning writing sessions.
If distractions are a convenient excuse, what is the real problem that causes so many people to find difficulty in focusing on the most important activities they need to do?
The real reason is state of mind. If you do not have the right mindset to put up a firewall against distractions, to concentrate on achieving your goals. If you are not committed to your mission in life, not determined to stay on course, it is difficult to stay focused.
It all come back to WHY you are on your mission, WHAT you want to achieve.
Get that right and it’s simple to prevent distractions controlling your life and to focus on the right things. Just like the single-minded focus any parent can apply to finding the best treatment for a sick child.
I don’t subscribe to any conspiracy theories, but it would be easy to draw the conclusion that our modern Western societies are becoming increasingly geared to prevent people focusing on the long-term. Too many short-term distractions and much of the necessities of life covered by the wages of all but the lowest paid workers, an ever-expanding social safety net for those that don’t earn an income.
image courtesy of Stuart miles / freedigitalphotos.net