I have searched since my first days in college for the key to success. My search first began by watching classmates and talking to professors. I learned that “applying myself” led to desired rewards. Then later, in my early career, I sought the key to success in excellent work and continuous learning; through these I was able to make a difference in the lives of others. These were necessary lessons but still I kept on searching for a silver bullet skill or habit.
In my mid-career I came to ferociously doubt myself. Had I achieved enough? Had I lived up to my potential? Should not I have accomplished much, much more? Did I miss, somewhere along the way, that one magical insight, technique, or habit that light my world on fire with success after success. I fervently studied every time management philosophy I could find. I became a fastidious Franklin Covey planner complete with the “everything binder” that daughter referred to as my “man-purse.”
I have read the biographies of great thinkers and leaders like Martin Luther, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein to mine their life stories for clues to their greatness. It is given me many insights into the things that these great lights used to change the world.
After three decades of searching for the one single-most important key to success what I have boiled all that I have learned down to is just one thing: focus.
Unfortunately, focus has also been a life-long struggle for me. I am fascinated by so many, many things. Richard Feynman, the famed nuclear scientist, put it most succinctly when he wrote “Everything is interesting, if you look deeply enough.” I am often so intrigued by so many things that it perpetually interferes with my focus. As I have explored my distractibility, I must admit to myself that I also wrestle with discipline. You see focus implies single minded discipline.
Focus has become a mantra for me. Daily I ask myself, Am I still in focus? Is my mission focused? Am I on track?
I still find focus a battle. How is your focus?
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