The Importance of Focus
They asked you, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” You answered, “I’m not sure.” They grimaced and told you to figure it out. But your problem was never a lack of carefully considered options. The problem was narrowing it down from all the things you knew you could do.
Students today are faced with a rapidly evolving and burgeoning job market. The options of what you can do are as seemingly limitless as the sand that slips through your fingers at the shore. So what are your options? You can either grab as many handfuls of sand as you can manage and watch the grains trickle softly through the cracks of your fingers, or you can find a pail and fill it, putting all your sand into one contained bucket.
This singular act is what Richard St. John says differentiates successful people from their less successful-- though just as hard working-- counterparts. Focus.
In his TED-ed talk on the importance of focus, St. John denotes that:
“Successful people, they’re not great at everything. They’re only great at one thing.”
Focusing exclusively on one thing is what breeds success. James Cameron, director of the top two highest grossing films of all time, Titanic and Avatar, tells us: “You’ve got to be super-focused-- like a laser-- to get anything worthwhile done.” Countless other entrepreneurs, artists, and leaders echo this sentiment, including Bill Gates, Stephen King, and Larry Page.
This kind of laser-focus includes both long-term focus, which is knowing your end goal, and short-term concentration, which is a skill we can develop, weeding out distractions to work singularly on the task at hand.
This is hard with today’s distractions. St. John says, “Now with emails, mobile phones, and all the stuff on the web, it’s a wonder we can concentrate for five seconds before something warbles, beeps, vibrates, or plays somebody’s favorite tune. But the trick is to eliminate the distractions when we need to concentrate.”
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