When it comes to the pursuit of success, people all over the world have claimed to have discovered the secret throughout the ages. Some suggest it’s working hard. Others don’t completely agree with that and believe, rather, that it’s all about working smart. Others suggest it’s simply being ready for your opportunity when it comes, while there are those who believe that the secret to success is consistently avoiding failure.
I’m of the opinion that there is another ‘secret’ or key to success that doesn’t get as much publicity. Admittedly, it’s not as sexy as ‘being ready and staying ready’, neither is it as catchy as ‘work smarter, not harder’. This underrated secret of success can be summed up in a single word: FOCUS.
Let’s examine some of the main benefits focus provides: –
Being focused keeps your eye on the prize!
Have you ever watched a horse race and noticed that sometimes, racehorses are wearing small leather flaps around their eyes? These are often called blinkers or blinders. Its sole purpose is to block out the horse’s peripheral vision so as to ensure the horse remains focused on its direction of travel and isn’t distracted or spooked by what is beside or behind it. There is a powerful lesson here for each of us.
Whether you are a small business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, it’s important that you put on your proverbial blinkers and get focused. Distractions in life are inevitable. There’s not much you can do to avoid them, however, you have the capacity to master your response and not allow yourself to be thrown off track. When you are focused, your mind is fixed on your goals and objectives. Achieving them is not optional. When obstacles present themselves, instead of being deterred, you will be compelled to find solutions. While there is wisdom on being aware of the obstacles in your path, it’s important that you remain focused on your goal, your why! Keep your eye on the prize!
2. Focus increases your intensity and effectiveness!
As a child, I distinctly remember discovering that it was possible to light a fire on a sunny day with only a magnifying glass. Mind blown! 🤯 … Sadly, I didn’t ever manage to start an actual fire BUT by positioning my magnifying glass to concentrate the energy from the sun, I was finally able to burn a hole through a piece of paper! WINNING 😂
That concentration or focus intensified the naturally occurring properties of the sun, making it hotter, stronger and more powerful! Under normal conditions, even on the sunniest day, the sun isn’t going to burn holes through paper. Without being intentional, it probably isn’t going to happen!
Whoop! Intentionality! Look, we’ve got to be intentional about focusing our time, energy and resources. When we spread ourselves too thin, we’re like the sun on the average day; you feel it’s warmth, but it’s unlikely to spark a fire. If you’ve ever suffered from ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’ (like me), you probably have AMAZING ideas flooding your mind on a daily basis. Listen! You CAN have it all. You CAN do it all…Just not at the same time! You are most effective when you are focused!
3. Focus enhances your ability to make good decisions!
Ok, I STILL haven’t bothered to get a pair of AirPods, so when I want to go hands-free, I’ll reach for my wired ear pods which often get tangled in my bag! It’s SO frustrating having to untangle all the knots, not knowing which section to pull and worrying if I’m making it worse. I like to imagine the unfocused mind to be almost identical to that tangled ball of wires. In that state, our judgement can become impaired, which can lead to a series of bad decisions.
One of the most amazing things about getting focused is the clarity of thought that accompanies it. When you are focused, it’s SO much easier to decide what to do, how to do it, why to do it and perhaps most importantly, what NOT to do! Focus can help you to decide when to outsource, how to innovate and make better decisions when evaluating your ideas. The more focused you are, the more effective your decision-making process is!
4. Focus can help to relieve stress!
Allow me to set the scene… It’s Monday morning. The bills are piling up. You still haven’t gotten round to scheduling your posts for social media. That online course you started (but didn’t finish) is still in the back of your mind. Your kids’ school is calling to find out why they haven’t completed last week’s maths worksheet. You haven’t made it to the post office yet to send off your recent orders. The kids are hungry, AGAIN. You *accidentally* opened the message from your Facebook buddy who wants you to join their team.
You’re thinking about the script for your next video. You need to do some hashtag research for your next Instagram post. Somehow, you’re still holding down a full-time job and your manager is calling to find out if you’re on target for Thursday’s submission. Should you try and pitch your business to investors? The cat has literally destroyed your new curtains. Have you put on a few pounds since being in lockdown? Why can’t you get the WiFi to work consistently? When will you be able to go on a vacation again????? AAAAAAAaaaaargh!!!!!!
Sound familiar? Some experts suggest that the average mind thinks between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts PER DAY 😱. If we’re not careful, that has the potential to lead to serious overwhelm and burn out. Remember, you CAN have it all – just not at the same time. It’s critical that we get focused if only to reap this benefit! When your mind is full, racing at 100mph and switching between your bills, your kids, the pets, the internet, your business, your job, your home and everything else in between, it’s EASY to see why we get stressed!
Focus provides us with the ability to prioritise and address things in their correct order. When we are not focused, confusion creeps in and before long, we have become stressed, snappy and terrible company. Want less stress? Get focused.
5. Focus promotes growth!
Have you ever noticed that people who regularly complain, ALWAYS seem to have something to complain about? Do you have a friend who is ALWAYS (annoyingly lol) happy or in a good mood? What about those people who seem to have the ‘Midas touch’ – everything they touch seems to turn to gold. I don’t believe this to be mere coincidence.
If you’ve ever heard me deliver a presentation, been coached by me or had a deep conversation with me, you will have probably heard me making reference to my belief that the mind is like fertile soil. We must be intentional about the seeds of thought we plant. Given the right conditions, coupled with repetition, they will take root! Our dominant thoughts influence the words we speak. The words we speak have a direct impact on our actions (or lack, thereof). Repeated actions become habits. Habits inform our character and character eventually determines our destiny.
I believe that there is direct correlation between our dominant thoughts and our present circumstances. If you are focused on your troubles, your woes and all the things you don’t have, creating a poverty mindset is the natural progression. It is at that point that your problems begin to grow or become magnified. You literally begin to attract more of the same.
There is hope though! I believe that this principle/law is universal and it can work for your benefit or to your detriment. Give it a try! Be intentional about focusing on all that you are grateful for. Focus on things that are positive, uplifting and edifying. Focus on the abundance that surrounds you and you’ll be amazed at how easily you will make way for greater blessings in your life. Whatever you focus on grows – so choose what you focus on, carefully!