Over the last three days, I have had some really cool opportunities and experiences. I attended a full NFL practice for the Carolina Panthers, got a private tour of top Nascar team Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters, presented for over 120 young women at a future leadership event and rode the fastest and tallest Giga Roller Coaster in the world. You might think it was great just to go and watch, but my goal is always to be present and learn. At each of these experiences, I kept seeing the power of one lesson over and over:
YOU CAN’T FOCUS ON TWO THINGS AT ONE TIME.
When people ask me to name some of the secrets to success, the concept of Focus is always at or close to the top of the list. It may sound very easy to understand, but the ability to focus in our fast-paced day and age is not always so easy to do. Between access to the internet and being essentially available for contact from anyone at anytime, focus is a becoming an increasingly important and difficult to acquire skill. I am writing this to give you some insight into the skill and list a few “Focus Secrets” to help you develop your ability to laser down.
Focus Secret #1: Multitasking doesn’t work. (Especially in a Major League Baseball bathroom during a game!) Pick one thing and see it through before you begin the next one.
Want to argue you can be successful doing a number of things at once? Just ask Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval what he thinks. He was caught yesterday using Instagram during a professional baseball game. Even though he knew it was against the rules, he was unable to resist hitting “like” on a photo. Some can argue whether it is fair or not, but no one can argue he has a problem being able to focus.
Focus Secret #2: Focus on the most critical thing at the time. If not, you might drop the ball.
At the Carolina Panthers, the practice was run with military precision. The plays moved quickly and each time a horn sounded, every player needed to know where they needed to be immediately. A few hours of this in 100 degree heat would challenge anyone’s ability to stay on task. But when your job and livelihood are on the line, most of the these athletes were able to pull it off. I say most because I did see some dropped balls, some miscues and some athletes that hadn’t probably spent as much time training to get ready as they should have. This is not a problem with understanding the rules. This again is simply a problem with focusing on the most critical thing at the time. (And if I noticed these things as a less-experienced bystander, I am sure the coaches noticed too!)
Focus Secret #3: You will focus on things you really enjoy. Figure out how to spend your time on things you love instead of diverting your focus while doing things you don’t.
At Joe Gibbs Racing, you could not escape the incredible attention to detail. I learned there is much more to racing than making left turns around a track. Obviously at 200 miles an hour, you can immediately realize a driver’s need to focus on driving (I doubt any Instagram likes happen then!), but this is just the tip of the focus spear in racing. I saw focus down to millimeters in design and two workers “wrap” a car (lining the entire outside of the car with a specially made decal) with such focus you would think they were creating fine art. When they were done with the process, I realized they were!
Focus Secret #4: Get started and launch things with enthusiasm. Sitting around thinking about other things won’t focus you on a task or get you closer to the finish.
When I rode the Fury 325 roller coaster (look up a video, it’s insane!), I got the front seat. As it started up the climb to 325 feet, I found myself looking around at the rest of the park, the city of Charlotte and eventually the horizon. Looking around had me thinking of other things, but when we hit the crest and launched over the almost vertical drop, everything became very focused! Even though we were traveling at 95 miles an hour, I remember all the twists and turns will detail. The experience was so intense, you had no choice but to completely focus on the right there and then. This wasn’t because it was a roller coaster. It was due to the launch with intensity.
Focus Secret #5: Your ability to focus can be as important as “Life and Death.”
When I spoke to the young women at the leadership conference, I asked how many of them send texts. The response was 100% Then I asked how many of them drove a car. The response was about 70% since some of them don’t drive yet. Then I asked the important question, “How many of you have ever driven AND sent a text at the same time?” After a few reluctant hands went up, almost all of the drivers had her hand in the air. Then I spoke about focus and asked the final question to the group, “When you are driving, what is the most important thing on which to be focused?” The answer was 100%….DRIVING.
Focus is your ability to Follow One Course Until Successful. I hope this inspired you to take a look at your ability and gave you a little more focus to do something about it.
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