Focus – A Necessary Ingredient For Success

PowerOfFocusIn another life (so to speak), I teach little kids (and big ones, too) how to play a violin or viola. I have found that my best students all have one thing in common, namely, the ability to focus.

Because the violin is a very difficult instrument (it’s said that the only thing that sounds worse than a beginner on the violin is a beginner on the bagpipes), if you don’t focus intently on your practice, you don’t make very rapid progress.

I have had some periods in my life when I had trouble focusing on the task at hand. My efforts during those times usually ended badly. There were a few times that I lucked out, but even then, my results would have been enhanced by better focus.

MollyHowToWorkSuccess at blogging (or pretty much anything else) also requires a good focus. There are several ways to work on focus, including John T. Molloy’s How to Work the Competition Into the Ground (which, BTW, contains the absolute best explanation of the nature of creativity I have ever seen — unfortunately, the book is out of print and only available in used form). However, I had problems with focus even when trying Molloy’s method.

There are probably other things that influence the ability to focus, but these are the things that I have had to deal with (mostly successfully):

  • Sleep. I not only have a hard time focusing if I haven’t had enough sleep, if it goes for long enough, I have an almost complete (and undesirable) personality change. A little over two decades ago, I was diagnosed with OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), and I now use a CPAP, which has helped tremendously.
  • Medication. I have a VA primary care doctor who thinks that cholesterol is a disease, and prescribed statins for that imaginary disease. The negative impact of that toxin on my ability to focus was devastating. I quit taking that toxin because of the extreme side-effects, and I have since learned that my cholesterol level of 220 is actually strongly associated with longer, healthier life than the arbitrary level of <200 anyway. Turns out that the latter is recommended solely to boost the sale of the most profitable class of drug ever produced.
  • Diet. I had no idea how much impact my diet had on my ability to focus until I joined my wife on a low-carb diet. Turns out that the elimination of all grain was the primary key to gaining back the ability to focus that I had when I was a teenager.
  • Shiny objects. That’s a big one, especially in the realm of Internet Marketing, and I still find that one to be a problem sometimes. The only cure I know for that is to pick a goal that suits your personality, and reject consideration of anything that does not obviously move you towards that goal. Find a course, or a product, or whatever, and stick with it until you can conclusively demonstrate that it either does or doesn’t work for you. Don’t just buy every IM product you can find, and dabble with it for a week before moving to the next.

CsikszentmidhalyiFlowI have one more book recommendation for focus, by a psychologist whose name (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) I have no idea how to pronounce: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

I read one of the earlier editions of this almost 20 years ago, and it has had a profound influence on my ability to focus.

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