Thrashing and Power of Focus: the simple truth
Nothing has struck me more since I began my pursuit of self-development a few years ago, than the apparent power of focus.
Struck about ten years ago with a real curiosity about the qualities and benefits of mindfulness within Buddhism, it feels like part of the end game for a lot of self-development challenges includes the ability to master the power of focus to the best of your abilities.
With my ‘simple mind’ investigations that I am now undertaking, I am now struck by the double-challenge of that mastery:
1. To be able to focus is a challenge in itself. I always remember a quote where someone said that the secret of their success was their ability to concentrate single-mindedly on one matter with absolute focus (for something crazily short like 15 minutes (would love to get this correctly sourced…..)
The power of distraction is immense. Lyman Reed does a great post on The Worst Kept Secret of Success which does justice to this point better than I could. He also makes one aspect of my point in this post very well when he says: ‘Our conscious minds can only do one thing at a time, and every time you try to focus on more than that one thing, you lose a little bit of your power of focus.’. When I started at Madgex I was strangely pleased to hear about the existence in the computer world of ‘thrashing’: ‘Thrashing is computer activity that makes little or no progress, usually because memory or other resources have become exhausted or too limited to perform needed operations’
The fact that computers end up stuck like I sometimes do when I find myself grinding to a halt because I’m trying to spread my resources too thinly across too many things. I get stuck in the middle trying to switch between different mental requests.
No, the real double-challenge for me comes in:
2. The fact that, although hard, the act of focusing is simplicity in itself. It’s not like we have to learn anything. We don’t have to go on a multi-tasking/ focus-switching training course to be successful. Again, it is something that our ‘conscious intellect’/ our ‘intelligent brain’ for me is quite arrogant and condescending about (if I were to give it a personality???). The fact that the potential key to great success in whatever you chose to be the subject of your focus is to not do some things. To relax your ability to be able to handle life on multiple fronts and put that energy into a single focus for the time required to achieve your objective at that time
John D. Rockefeller (I thought it was his quote above…) said that ‘Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be ones aim’