Nope, not the 4-letter F word (I know that's what you're thinking); I'm talking about the 5-letter word we need everyday - FOCUS!
When we were younger you might remember getting "Focus!" yelled at you by a parent, a teacher or a coach. "Stop talking and focus." "What are you doing? Stay focused!" I'm suggesting now that we choose to whisper this word to ourselves, "shhhh . . . stay still . . . focus."
There are so many distractions in our daily lives that we must make the commitment to improving our focus if we stand a chance of getting significant work done - not once in a while, but everyday. Our phones beep and sing and ring at us, our email "blings" you've got another new email, here comes an instant message, a tweet and on and on.
Ironically, I've resorted to using the rain app on my phone to drown out the noise when I just want to focus on what I'm working on, reading or God forbid, resting. Focus takes intention and practice - special thanks to my clarinet days; I thought I was practicing scales and difficult passages, but really I was practicing how to Focus.
It helps to practice focusing in our childhood years, but improving our focus doesn't take buying an expensive instrument or taking a course - it takes committing time to one thing at a time and sticking to that commitment, despite the incoming distractions.
Besides the obvious tasks at work and needs of our home environment, there are lots of daily applications for focus. Some I suggest are writing, meditating and reading. When instructing young leaders, I emphasize focused listening - something that can be done haphazardly or with a high level of focus and intent. Also, I'd appreciate it if some of you would focus more as you drive (you know who you are)!
Focus doesn't have to be the bad F-word and we don't need it yelled at us commando style. Commit to improving your ability to focus without caving to distractions, focus on extending your ability to focus for longer periods of time, and to really enjoy the process, focus intently on challenges that matter to you, those tasks that make a difference for yourself and others.
Shhh . . . stay still . . . focus.
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