Focus of Attention

Chapter 3:
Focus of Attention

If there is one thing that excellence in sports and excellence in work have in common, it can be summed up in a single phrase: focus of attention. Focus is the quintessential component of superior performance in every activity, no matter what the level of skill or the age of the performer.

The simple fact is that we do our best when we are focused, whether we are riding a bicycle, drawing a plan for a suspension bridge, conceiving a global strategy for a multinational company, negotiating a contract, selling a product, cutting sushi, tasting a glass of wine, appreciating a sunset, throwing a ball, or writing a book. And when focus is lost, we simply do not perform at our best.

Children focus. Animals focus. Adults focus. It’s a primary ability of living creatures—perhaps even built into the DNA as a necessity for natural selection. Of all these, adults seem to have the most difficulty with focus. Children may have short attention spans but do not get easily distracted from what is important to them. One could say that most of the mistakes made by adults are caused by a loss of focus of attention. And with that loss of focus comes a loss of productivity, learning, and enjoyment in the process of work.

It is by focus of attention that we make contact with everything in our world and by this means alone that things become knowable and understandable to us. Thus, attention is critical to all learning, understanding, and proficiency of action. It is only when we are giving our full attention to what we are doing that we can bring all of our resources to bear effectively. Why? Because when we are giving full attention, self-interference is neutralized. In the fullness of focus, there is no room for Self 1’s fears or doubts.

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