The secret to laser focus (fun exercise inside)
Last week, we started to talk about what it means to ‘love your mistakes’ and actually look forward to ‘failing’. Because what IS failure, anyway? A failure could be a step in the right direction and you wouldn’t know if it hit you in the face of you were so down on yourself for making a mistake.
Which is why today is a perfect day to talk about FOCUS.
I get made fun of all the time when I get deeply immersed in something, because you can yell my name 100 times and I won’t hear you because I’m so tuned in.
But focus is a funny thing, because what are we told for how to get it?
Drink water…wake up early…set a timer for a task…
But if it were all about tactics, we wouldn’t have a problem focusing. Above all else, real ‘laser’ focus is about having a highly trained mind that can drop into focused states at will, despite the circumstances on the outside.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always need quiet to focus. You can train yourself to do it whenever you want.
But first, why is focus important?
I was recently in Munich airport catching a plane to Paris. My flight got delayed, then I was told to go to the wrong gate, and I missed my flight.
Then, I was in tears. Rarely do I get upset over something this small.
So what REALLY happened?
First, I had a heavy weekend and I was feeling very sad. At the airport, I felt distracted.
Then, because I felt distracted, when I noticed the sign at the gate change, I just thought my plane was coming to the same gate I was at, so I didn’t double check when I heard an announcement about a gate change (I just thought it was for another plane).
Then, even when I asked the ticket agents where to go, they told me to stay where I was…even though I felt a very faint feeling that I might be in the wrong place.
Then, when I realized I missed my flight, I broke down. All because of how I was feeling BEFORE I stepped foot in the airport!
Was this really the worst thing to happen to me? Of course not. In fact, it was an extremely powerful lesson.
When you lose that focus and presence, even for a second, you become disconnected from what’s really going on around you. Missing a flight isn’t life or death. But what about the more important things?
…If you’re a business owner, what if you misread a potential client’s body language during an important deal and it falls apart?
…If you’re in finance, what if you overvalue a company that results in a bad trade because you missed an important detail that would have told you to do otherwise? How does this affect your clients? Your boss? Your peers? The business?
...If you’re a wife, what if your husband is secretly wishing to talk to you about something important, but you’re missing the signs from him to give him space to open up? What if he shuts down and feels like he can’t talk, and you don’t have the opportunity to strengthen your relationship?
…If you’re a manager, what if you’re not giving your team what they need, and that’s why it ‘seems impossible’ to get them to do anything? How does this affect your stress level, the amount of people breathing down your neck, your ability to communicate and lead effectively?
Everything you do has a profound effect, even if you don’t see it. The better quality your decisions are, the better effect you have on yourself and everyone around you.
Which means, when your decision making quality goes DOWN–due to a lack of focus and presence–so does everything and everyone around you.
With consistent practice, you can learn to figuratively not miss your flight and break down in tears when there’s a lot going on.
So here’s my fun exercise for you today so you can start to practice dropping into deep focus when you need to:
Step 1: Grab something you like to look at (a piece of fruit, art, scarf, notebook, doesn’t matter)
Step 2: Practice looking at the object from variety of angles. Move it around, put it upside down, on top of something. In what place does it look the best?
Step 3: Settle in on one part of the object. So if I were looking at a peach, I’d look at one very small section of it on just one side.
Step 4: Ask: What is this showing me? Where should I look? And let yourself settle in on the small details that present themselves to you. All you have to do is take a mental note of them (don’t write them down).
Step 5: Step away. How was your experience of that object different than before? What presented itself to you? Why?
Just do this once today.
And the beauty of this exercise is two-fold: it not only shows you how to go from an expansive attention span to a focus and settled one, but also train yourself to see what details are important, instead of the overwhelming need to look at everything. There are very few details that matter, but those very few, are extremely important. They’re everything.
If you liked doing this, comment below and let me know how it goes! I love hearing from readers and learning what else I can write about to help you.