How to Stay Focused
- 12 Posts
- Age 26
During my first year of grad school, we were given a book titled "FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence", by Daniel Goleman when we won a group work competition. The book came from one of our judges who had brought few books for the winners.
She gave us this book, specifically because one of my teammates (to be clear, it was not me!) was really good at listening. She pointed out arguments in which our opponents accidentally made mistakes. She was truly focused while the rest of us might have had our thoughts flying somewhere else and thereby missing out the important things.
I do not know how many of you have read about or done practically the exercise of burning a piece of paper using a magnifying glass and sunlight. It is possible because once you focus the scatter light from the sun through the lens onto the paper. This was the paper will be expose to a high concentration of light which can increase the heat on the paper, and if the light is HOT ENOUGH, the paper will eventually be burnt.
Similarly, in Buddhism, Mara is figuratively symbolized all the desires and destructiveness. He was kind of an evil who once attempted to obstruct Gautama Buddha meditating beneath the Bodhi tree. He found all means such as employing violence, desire, pleasure, and mockery in trying to ensure that soon-to-be Gautama Buddha could not focus on his meditation. However, Buddha tried to overcome by his stillness mind meditating until he fully enlightened.
The phenomena of burning the paper by sunlight through the magnifying glass and Gautama’s awakening is hugely attributed by the power of focus. These are exactly mentioned in the book written by Daniel. More than that, Daniel shows us to pay attention in all aspects that matter to our performance. In brief, he suggests that to be at best, regardless of which area we are working on, we need to master these three types of focus:
1. Inner focus centers our self-awareness regarding our intuitions, values, and decision-making. This inner focus is the base of every aspect in our lives. We are pretty similar to buildings: to stand still even during a hurricane storm, a building needs a very strong foundation. Similarly, we need to be strong from within as we go through life.
2. Other focus has to do with the ability to feel empathy and compassion for others so that we can connect well with other. Once we understand another individual, we can align people with what makes them tick. It will ultimately produce better collaboration within a team. A better collaboration creates a healthy work environment and consequently results in more work done in an effective way.
3. Outer focus means the focus on the world at large. Remember, the “Inner” focus is about self-awareness, the “Other” focus is more about other-awareness, and the “Outer” focus is about the outer-awareness. Simply put, “Outer” focus refers to the focus on the system. For instance, how can the implementation of technology in workplace increase the productivity and success in an organization or institute? Or how can a manager of an ice-cream company survive during winter? As a manager, a person needs to critically take this in to consideration, and technically search for coping strategies in advance.
Of course, everything needs to start from within us, commonly known as Know Thyself. Then, we need to know how to work well with others. Also, we have to make sure that we have an enabling environment favorable to our work. Therefore, we no longer want to say “Seeing the forest, not just the trees”, but “to some extent, we need to see the whole ecosystem, not just the forest and threes”.