Why is it so difficult to focus? We’ve become an entire nation with Attention Deficit Disorder and we make every excuse in the book to justify it. To make matters worse, experts jump through hoops to design new ways to accommodate our ever shrinking attention spans from the kindergarten classroom to the executive boardroom.
I say the same thing whether I’m talking to a group of pre-school kids or execs in the C-suite:
Those are the two most important words in martial arts. At the risk of being audacious, I’d say these are two of the most important words in life. Why is it so difficult?
It’s popular to blame technology. Bullshit – gadgets should give us more time to concentrate on the greater issues in life. The plain fact is that given more time, most people are going to waste more time. Focus is your ability to concentrate on what is important. In order to concentrate on what is important, you need to know what is important.
That can be a problem.
We had better learn how to focus again…and learn how to focus for longer than 2 minutes or 140 characters. The bigger issues in life and in the world require focused contemplation; that means to solve life’s greatest problems; you’ve got to be able to focus for much longer than the continually dwindling average attention span.
Current research shows that young people are dramatically losing their creativity and problem solving abilities. Much of this deficiency is directly related to attention span; they simply don’t know how to sit still and think. I’d argue we’re seeing the same deficiency in politics and business as well.
Those who can concentrate are dominating and that’s no accident. What’s interesting is that instead of emulating these people, we tend to deify them as pop culture gods.
Steve Jobs once said:
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
What makes Steve Jobs better than the rest of us? Why has he been proclaimed as one of the most innovative and influential people in history?
I’d say focus played a huge part in it.
Jobs loved to walk. His infamous long walks gave him time to think about new innovations and solutions. These walks allowed him to reflect on past experience, and as he said, to connect these experiences with the needs and demands of our developing high-tech culture.
You can’t force focus. Focus is a process of turning off the noise. It’s about taking time, free from interruption, to let your amazing brain do what nature intends it to do: Create.
A focused person is not narrow in scope in or thinking; quite the opposite. A focused person is simply operating in the present moment. A focused person knows how to turn off the noise and let the thinking process occur most efficiently.
You can learn how to turn off the noise and focus effectively. You can learn how to expand your mind and think creatively. You can innovate and create solutions to the great problems in life.
On Wednesday I’ll give you some techniques…
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