The STEM 1.0 Academic Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. The ability to focus is one of the most important mental skills to learn.

2. Each day you need to overcome the distractions of our world to focus on what is most important for you to accomplish, be it at work, at home, or during your passionate pursuits.

3. Focus is a powerful tool for managing stress, directing your mind, taking care of yourself, and reaching your goals. 

"In all my years working with Olympic athletes, I have learned that focus and concentration are the most important skills. Those who attend to the things that will make them successful, succeed. Those who get distracted are left wondering why they didn’t win. It’s that simple." - Dr. Greg Wells

Focus is effective in helping all of us perform, control stress or improve mental and physical health. It can also be critical for success of a business, such as when Steve Jobs came back to Apple. The struggling company was making many different configurations of computers, printers, monitors and accessory products. None were great and none were selling well. The stock price had tumbled.

At the first board meeting, Jobs walked to a whiteboard, picked up a marker and drew a huge + sign. In each of the four quadrants of the +, he wrote one product. He said that they would make a personal and a business version of a laptop and a desktop. Everything else had to go.

The results were unreal. By focusing on just four products, Apple established a culture of excellence to support great new ideas and designs. And they laid the foundation for the creation of the iPod, which revolutionized the music industry, and the iPhone, which revolutionized the mobile phone industry.

Without focus, these achievements would never have been possible. Here's another example from the sports world.

Jose Bautista’s famous “bat flip” home run – a three-run shot in the ALCS against Texas on October 13, 2015 is now up there with the most famous home-runs of all time. It is also a perfect example of how an athlete uses focus to get into the Zone.

Here’s how Jose described it in his Player’s Tribune article “Are you Flippin Kidding Me?”:

We knocked in the tying run…the crowd just exploded…50,000 people going crazy…Then I took that lonely walk to the plate with everything on the line….My adrenaline wasn’t 10-out-of-10. It was ten-million-out-of-10. The stage was set. I was so locked in that all I could see was the pitcher. Everything else was out of focus. It was so loud that it was quiet.

What he was describing is the ability to channel the intensity of the moment into his performance by focusing on one and only one thing – the ball. That’s how an elite athlete gets in the Zone and stays there.

It’s no different for you. Each day we need to overcome the distractions of our world to focus on what is most important for us to accomplish if we are to reach our potential.

But what is focus? The Focusing Institute (www.focusing.org) puts it like this:

“Focusing” is to enter into a special kind of awareness, different from our everyday awareness. It is open, turned inward, centered on the present and on your body’s inner sensations. When doing Focusing, you silently ask, “How am I now?”

Here’s what’s key in that description: attention is turned away from the world around you and toward the task so that only the current mission exists. Also, only the present moment exists – there is no past or future. There is only now. This is the required precursor for getting into the zone or a flow state.

The ability to focus is one of the most important mental skills I want you to learn – and it starts with realizing how important it is.

Today's POWER-UP: The 90 - 90 - 1 Principle

ACCORDING TO MY FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE ROBIN SHARMA, YOU SHOULD SPEND THE FIRST 90 MINUTES OF YOUR DAY ON THE MOST IMPORTANT TASK YOU NEED TO ACCOMPLISH. TRY THIS FOR 90 DAYS. HENCE THE 90 - 90 - 1 PRINCIPLE. THIS IS A TOTAL GAME CHANGER AND WILL ENABLE YOU TO GET YOUR BEST WORK DONE IN THE LEAST AMOUNT OF TIME WHILE SUPER CHARGING YOUR LIFE.

WITH THE DEMANDS OF YOUR JOB SUCH AS MEETINGS, PHONE CALLS, AND EMAILS, THIS MIGHT NOT ALWAYS BE POSSIBLE. HOWEVER, TRY IMPLEMENTING THIS STRATEGY WHENEVER YOU HAVE A MOMENT FREE FROM DISTRACTIONS. IF YOU CAN'T DO 90 MINUTES, TRY 20 OR 30. TRY TO MINIMIZE YOUR DISTRACTIONS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. FOR EXAMPLE, IT MIGHT NOT BE POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO IGNORE PHONE CALLS, BUT TRY TO NOT CHECK YOUR EMAIL TO HELP YOU FOCUS ON YOUR TASK. 

IF YOU DO THIS, THIS WILL ENABLE YOU TO GET YOUR MOST IMPORTANT TASKS DONE WELL IN THE LEAST AMOUNT OF TIME, WHILE SUPER CHARGING YOUR LIFE.