Please raise your hand if you’ve ever felt frustrated by a lack of focus.
Haven’t we all?
You know, that old familiar scene…
You have the biggest presentation of your career to date – in front of a room full of critical eyes, this afternoon; You get into the office early – hoping to get a head start. You sit down at your desk with a positive mindset – poised and ready to start methodically making the final changes to your PowerPoint.
But first you read the News headlines. Remember you’ve forgotten to bring lunch. Take a quick five minutes (yeah right!) to check your Twitter feed. Reply to an inbox full of emails. And respond to that LinkedIn message you’ve been sitting on for five days.
Then – right on cue, the wild monkey inside your brain decides there has never been a better time to start swinging through the trees and chucking banana skins. Before you know it, the chaos has spiraled into contemplating the birth of the universe and what it all means.
“Please. Please, not now. Its difficult enough trying to focus on the task in hand – and quiet the fear of public speaking, without this absolute lunatic showing up to throw a spanner in the works.”
You grab another coffee – with an extra shot.
You connect yourself with some energy-boosting carbohydrates – then stare blankly out of the window wondering how on earth you’re going to achieve anything – ever!
And you sit again…
But it seems like every time you try to focus: the maniac inside your head rebels; It antagonistically sends out a jungle-call for backup and along comes self-doubt aboard a focus-sabotaging carnival truck.
Hello, mid-afternoon. Hello, panic. And the gut-wrenching fear that you’re going to mess up the whole presentation and be laughed out of the room.
Negative Disruption And the Double-Edged Sword of Technology
One of the biggest challenges for many of my coaching client is the ability to focus. And being able to continue with laser-sharp focus until a job or task is completed.
It’s a big problem in the modern world.
We’re surrounded by noise.
We inhabit a fast-paced new world, driven by technological advancement that has enabled us to work smarter, faster and more accurately. But it has its downsides.
Emails are continuously downloaded into your inbox – screaming for attention. iMessages, text messages, and social media notifications arrive without appointment.
And distressing news stories from the other side of the planet are drip-fed, and live streamed – direct from the scene to your brain (as they happen) – via social media.
Technology, and the information we have at our fingertips, is brilliant, of course. But it will completely disrupt your to focus if you let it.
When we’re continually plugged into social media, world news and technological interruptions – we’re also letting in feelings of empathy, despair, sadness and insecurity.
These feelings are valid emotions and an integral part of the human condition. But when you’re brain is saturated with negativity, it becomes increasingly difficult to cultivate a positive and productive mindset.
How to silence the negativity. And get more done
The technique I use in my life coaching sessions is based on the theory that our brains need roughly three positive thoughts to cancel out one negative. It’s a simple but effective 1:3 ratio that will help you block out the background noise and move you towards a more balanced state (and a ten-fold increase in productivity).
“I have really enjoyed working with Jamie over the years. He has helped me to re-focus and re-set goals. And he has allowed me to look at the bigger picture while trading, I would 100% recommend working with Jamie Skipper.” (Paul, Derivatives Trader)
Using the World News as an example, I’m going to demonstrate this powerful coaching technique, so you can tame your animal brain and tap into previously unimaginable levels of focus – on demand:
We’re all guilty of asking ourselves whether the world has gone completely crazy, yes? Whether it’s safe for us to leave our homes. And what it means for the future of civilisation, and for our children.
But, how do we know the world is a “bad” place?
Imagine if the news went something like this…
“The world is crazy and bad things happened today. But some positive things happened today. Here are three stories that will inspire you and make you proud to be human… Yes, the world was crazy in one area of the globe, but it turns out that 99% of the world woke up safe and in relative peace with each other. Until next time enjoy your day and stay positive, love and peace!”
Obviously that was hugely exaggerated and overly done. But just create that movie in your head and imagine if the world media worked towards a 1:3 ratio.
We would know that the world needs change, and it wouldn’t be a denial of what is. But through the very act of finding and telling positive, inspiring stories – globally – we would change the positive energy in everyone.
Now think about how much negativity you have in your life?
Is it balanced?
Think specifically about some of the negative thoughts that occupy your mind and sabotage your focus. Could you come up with three positive counter stories to reduce the power of each negative thought?
For example, your monkey brain says:
“You’re going to mess this up. You’re going to stutter and ramble, and lose all credibility”
But then you recall three separate occasions – imagining them vividly in your mind – when you delivered a slick presentation, engaged the audience and got all the critical points in your pitch deck presentation, or annual report, across – in perfect time.
Has your focus changed?
You Get What You Focus On
The above is analogy of how the world could be. But the secret to being able to focus your mind and get the job done is not to get caught up in the external world; You can’t change the world, but you can change your world.
Life Coaching, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and spiritual practices such as Mindfulness and Meditation focus on changing your “inner world”: the internal landscape and your model of the world you live in.
Focus is a choice.
You may not be in charge of the world media or laws passed through parliament, but you are in charge of you (and you can switch off social media notifications).
You can make a choice – right now, to decide what you focus on in your life. And when negative things happen, it’s up to you to focus and find the positive in every situation.
Your mind is like a garden that has imagined boundaries; a fence, if you like. And inside the fence you can grow flowers (positive thoughts) and trees (strong-rooted beliefs) or weeds (negative thoughts and beliefs). The choice is always yours.
But once you learn and start practicing this positivity ratio, with or without the help of an experienced life coach, you can look forward to the freedom of being able to choose to sit down at your desk – every morning – with unshakable focus. And the ability to work faster and smarter until you achieve everything you set out to achieve – without disruption.