Focus is a mental skill that can be learned
Want to get better results? Develop your FOCUS ability
Why does focus matter?
One of the most well-known NLP ‘facts’ is the idea that you can’t not think of a blue hippopotamus. This is because negation is processed differently by neurology than in language. If I say “Don’t smile”, your neurology has to process the meaning of ‘smile’ to understand what I’m talking about.
In North America, we tend to be goal-oriented; our neurology and physiology are adapted to move towards the ‘ideas’ (pictures, sounds, feelings) we hold in our minds. It’s important to be selective about these ‘ideas’, because…You get what you focus on!
Don’t believe me – stop for a minute and think about the results that are currently showing up in your life. On some level, these are a reflection of where you’ve been putting your attention and energy.
If you’re experiencing material wealth, well done! You’ve created that result by focusing on activities and abundance in your life. If you’re deep in the hole, congratulations! You’ve managed to create that result by focusing your energy and attention on scarcity, debt and activities of immediate gratification. That’s how powerful your mind is.
Positive or negative, whatever is occupying your thoughts is showing up in the results you are experiencing.
So how do you change your results?
Pay attention to your thoughts. When you catch yourself focusing on what you don’t want / don’t have, stop and intentionally focus on what you do have in that specific life area.
To increase your wealth, every time you catch yourself worrying about bills, focus on the pennies, pounds, dollars or drachmas that you do have (no matter how few.) If you want to get into a relationship, every time you find yourself moping about how you’re not in one, stop and think about the relationships you do have (or have had). The most useful emotion to access when focusing on what you wish to increase is…gratitude. Use gratitude to increase the flow.
Focus is a mental skill and learning to harness it is akin to acquiring a new skill.
Let’s consider your children first. When young athletes are lacking focus, parents/coaches often say things like: “Get your head in the game!” or “You need to focus out there.”
These statements are frustrating to everyone involved and are not particularly useful when we consider that focus is actually a skill that needs to be developed. When was the last time you were able to master something without first having a step by step process?
Inattention is part of the maturation process. Our children’s minds (like their heads) are always on a swivel – curious and inquisitive. These are wonderful attributes we want our children to have – don’t we? This level of curiosity and wonder is how our species evolved and survived over generations.
If you are looking for a higher degree of focus on the field, then you will need to engage in strategies that actually teach them how to focus.
Let’s stop thinking that our kids are simply lazy or unmotivated.
How can you help develop the skill of focus?
Start by being more specific and tactical – tell them what to focus on – specifically.
The emotional part of
our brains literally needs to be led. If left to it’s own devices, it will run amok like a 2 year old child.
When you are
looking for greater attention, invite your athletes to consider:
What their body needs to do to perform at peak levels.
What their teammates are doing and communicating.
The present moment
Instead of shouting at them to get their head back in the game, try something like this:
“Sam, think about your body right now – what are you feeling? Any aches or pains? How’s your energy? What do you see on the field out there? What do you hear?”
By spending a bit of time re-directing attention with specific questions, we are able to strategically nurture the mental skill of greater focus.
How this information could benefit an employee. What if instead of assuming they were lazy, we took responsibility for helping them develop this critical life skill with specific focused questions?