There is no substitute for focus when it comes to achievement. The recent Olympics remind us that the power of focus can keep us winning even after a disappointing loss. Michael Phelps started his 2012 Olympic medal pursuit by failing to medal in the 400-meter individual medley. Michael then went on to win 22 Olympic medals, the most decorated Olympian in history to date. He obviously had what it took to win those races. The power to focus on his abilities and his desire for great achievement overcame the distraction of his opening loss.
As we continue to consider the power of focus in achieving our life or career goals, keep these three thoughts in mind:
(1) Focused people always look for a better way. What got you where you are, won’t necessarily get you where you need to be. It is possible to have focus but not be aware of a new path or a better way to get where you want to go. Here’s a simple little story that illustrates this. A family who moved into a new neighborhood got a late start one morning. As a result, their six-year-old missed her school bus. Though it would make him late, her father agreed to take her to school if she gave him directions. After twenty minutes of going in circles, they finally arrived at the school, which turned out to only be a few blocks away from where they lived. Quite agitated by this, her dad asked why she drove him all over the place when the school was so close to home. “We went the way the school bus does, “ she said. “That’s the only way I know.” You see, sometimes we’re stuck doing things the way others have guided us. Looking for a better way can create breakthroughs of discovery along our journey of achievement.
(2) Focused people concentrate a little harder and a little longer. The question becomes, “how committed are you to your goal and the journey to get there?” Those that never give up on their dream, will press through the learning curve to find the path that will bring success. Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron says, “What separates a superstar from the average ballplayer is that he concentrates just a little bit longer.” Focused thinking is the ability to remove distractions and mental clutter so that you can concentrate with clarity.
(3) Focused people make commitments, not excuses. If we look for a reason to give up, we can always find one. But, the will to succeed and accomplish our goal is huge in evaluating the roadblocks that hinder our achievement. A sign on the desk of a Pentagon officer read: “The secrecy of my job does not permit me to know what I am doing.” It’s a cute joke, but not so cute when it’s true. When you don’t know what you’re doing, you become frustrated and end up failing. Don’t make excuses. Be committed to learning and keep finding new ways to accomplish your goal.
Remember, what got you where you are, won’t necessarily get you where you need to be.