From Enthusiasm to Focus All in One Year
Living life with enthusiasm and emotion is how we kicked off 2014. For 2015 we will change our focus. In early December, 2014 (seems like a year ago) on my way to the office I was listening to ESPN radio – the Mike & Mike Show and heard this on the radio – so it must be true.
Greenberg (Mike #1) was telling Golic (Mike #2) that in separate interviews involving Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, the two wealthiest Americans, that both were asked to describe in a single word the reason for their success. They both gave the same answer independent of the other (though they are known to be close friends). And, that answer – that one word for their success? FOCUS!
In 2015 we encourage you to live with FOCUS. But, why focus and what does focus achieve? To me focus is what turns our dreams into reality. Dreams tend to fuzzy and nebulous. But, the more we think and concentrate on them the more they come into focus –they become more defined with sharper boundaries – they become more than just ideas or random thoughts that flee our consciousness. Focus turns dreams into concrete and tangible realities.
What is Focus?
Focus is directing or channeling your time, effort, attention, and abilities to achieve or bring about a very specific goal or objective. Many wander through life without much direction. And, if you don’t know where you want to go – there’s not much need to focus. But, if you have a specific place where you want to eventually arrive then you need to focus on what it takes to get there.
Not too long ago I read a quote that I had previously read years ago by Steve Martin, the comedian and actor. He said, Be so good they can’t ignore you. It’s absolutely great advise. It is not possible to be that good without focus and commitment.
Success and Focus
The most focused person I know personally is Dr. Ken Cooper. I’ve discussed Dr. Cooper’s contributions to medicine in The Magic of Thing Big: Lessons from 2 Giants in Medicine. Dr. Cooper had a clear vision of where he wanted to go, a deep belief in his approach to medicine (emphasizing exercise and prevention), and a commitment unparalleled. He is also very charismatic and confident and leaves little doubt that he is an expert in what he does.
But, a big part of his success based on my observations is his unremarkable ability to focus on his mission and goals and not lose the trees for the forest. We hear some people being “focused like a laser beam”. That’s Dr. Cooper. It does not matter how good an idea is, or how likely it is to be successful. If that idea isn’t going to take Dr. Cooper closer to his goal he isn’t interested in pursuing it. He doesn’t allow himself to get off his track to his goal to complete his mission. Much of our time is spent fulfilling someone else’s goal or mission. Think about that and see where in your life that might apply.
Successful people like Dr. Cooper get inundated by others who want to “sell” their ideas to them and ride on coattails of their success. And, it’s very easy to get distracted by these other opportunities. Staying focus requires wearing blinders at times so that you only see what you want to see – better yet – what you need to see to reach your goal.
Some race horses run with blinders. In a race determined by time it’s not necessary to see the other competitors – just see what’s immediately in front and run the race as hard as you can. By doing so the finish line eventually comes into view – comes into focus. When we get close to the finish line – close to our goal – it becomes easier to muster that last bit of energy for the stretch run and reach the line in the shortest time possible. And, in a horse race it’s then a matter of crossing that line first.
But, in the race of life you are not competing against others – just yourself – and you’re not running against a clock like you would in a horse race (does it matter if it takes 3 months or 6 months to reach a goal?). But, eventually all our clocks stop ticking – so you do want to move with some urgency towards your goals. Reaching those goals is easier when we are focused and not distracted by “all that other stuff” out there that can take our eyes off the prize we want.
Focus on Better Nutrition for 2015
When it comes to health there is no doubt most of us need to focus on better nutrition – and that’s how we will kick off January – discussing nutrition the entire month just in time to achieve those New Year’s weight loss resolutions that most Americans make. We will focus on a single topic – better nutrition.
Eating well is the single most challenging habit to develop on the way to better health. As a physician I have found it much easier to get people who have never exercised to exercise than to get patients to eat better. You only have to exercise for a relatively few minutes a day – and not even everyday for that matter. But eating well is a 24/7/365 endeavor.
And, to develop that habit takes tremendous focus. Don’t get distracted by the unhealthy (albeit tasty) treats you might see in the office break room or at the checkout counter at the grocery store. Healthy eating takes time and effort. It takes time to prepare a healthy meal and it takes discipline to avoid the temptations and convenience of processed foods or prepackaged meals.
We are what eat. And, we are what we think about or focus on!
So get focused. Stay focused. Let’s get to work and focus on the next meal we eat. Let’s focus on finally eating as well as possible and focus on making 2015 the best and healthiest year yet!