Creating a path through all of the world’s chaos is becoming increasingly harder and harder. Chaos will look differently for each of us as we navigate COVID-19, political and social unrest, the impacts of the economy on our families, professions and schooling along with a host of other personally relevant impactful challenges.
How can we shape a destination and then journey that path in the most effective way possible? It displays the signs of being volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Take a moment to introspectively reflect and visualize the destination in your mind. Let go of all the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) the world is throwing at you. FOCUS! Close your eyes, try to feel your heart beating and how you are breathing. How would you describe the thoughts and images that come to mind? Can you craft a vivid picture of the future? Capture that in your mind as if it was a painting.
In my previous life as a Navy SEAL, there were many instances that demanded an uncanny level of focus to accomplish the task at hand. For me, when I reflect on the phrase “to focus” I think about being in Sniper School and the many skills that were uniquely honed to be able to take the shot or place myself into a position to see what needed to be seen.
I also think of someone like Tiger Woods in a major event on the 18th hole and tied for the lead… somehow channeling all of his abilities into a golf club to place the ball exactly where he needs it to be for the next shot onto the green in a way that allows for a successful putt.
As a sniper, you learn to control your heart rate, breathing, and physical discomfort in order to ensure a precise placement of the bullet. A sniper will reduce their heart rate and steady their breathing in such a way that they will visually see the crosshairs in their scope rising and falling with the beat of their heart. Never mind the environment of bugs, or the heat, or the cold that is taking its toll on the moment.
Like the sniper, in that moment, Tiger has to isolate the moment to the task at hand. He has to create the silence he needs in his head regardless of the throng of fans and cameras all around him, the weather, and the gnat over his ball. He channels all of his skill from the ends of his toes up through his body into his hands gripping the club and connecting in just the right way to send the ball where he wants to place it.
Each of these is an extreme situation but is not uncommon for the common person. We are all faced with important decisions or moments where an inordinate amount of focus is required to accomplish the task at hand with excellence. This may look like two sides of a coin. On one side, our child has a huge moment in their lives which pulls us towards that. On the other side, we have a host of other responsibilities also pulling at our available time. It may look like a career-impacting goal/deadline to meet on one side and on the other are the myriad of important-but-not-necessarily urgent demands that are screaming for our attention that if left unattended could evolve into catastrophes. Goals and deadlines are not lost on anyone! The challenge is how to succeed in the moment.
Focus is a skill and it can be honed over time to be an incredible weapon.
When we step back and look at the word “focus” it conjures up two specific questions:
- What does it require to focus well?
- What value does focus bring to the journey?
Three Things Focus Requires
Focus is a participatory sport. We have to take part as focus will not happen by accident. There is a level of deliberateness that is needed for us to put into play.
Focusing is not a random event. Its true value is not realized unless there is a commitment in practicing it. Much like a way of healthy eating does not work if we put in too many cheat days and avoid the self-control needed for success.
3. Consistency Over Time
Like building up and training a muscle, we can exercise and practice getting better at focusing. In the beginning it may be strange and even a struggle as it will take more effort to focus because it is a new way of thinking. Using focus, we would like to move from initiating the habit to it becoming automatic in an average of 66 days. Different people will take differing amounts of time to generate the habit, but the secret is once you begin seeing change and momentum, it’s hard to stop.
Three Things Focus Creates
1. Clarity of Vision
When we focus, our light on the horizon becomes brighter and more visible. That light is unchanging and aligns with our inner “why.”
2. Distinct Purpose
Focusing consolidates our efforts. Living out a unique purpose puts us on a more direct route to our vision.
3. A Direction Forward into Time
Our life journeys are challenged with many barriers and distractions. When we are clearer on where we are headed, it becomes easier to make more timely course corrections along the way instead of drifting too far off course.
Focus, when practiced often, becomes a powerful weapon in our arsenal of tools that help us on our life journeys.
Learning to master focus brings about a compounding impact which enhances our other weapons such as sleep, eating well, exercising and playing, and our faith walks. How will you begin focusing more intentionally with discipline over time?
So many things are pulling at us for our attention. Employing discipline, intentionality, and consistency over time will reveal a clearer vision, purpose, and destination in time. Simple to read and say. So much harder to live it out. I leave you with a quote I found helpful.
“Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently. So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting and joyful. Your life is always moving toward something.” – Ralph Marston
Sometimes we need help in becoming brilliant at the basics in leading and teaming. Let WinShape Teams help you with that. There are retreats, summits, and coaching opportunities that can help move the ball forward.