Focus

The eagle that chases two rabbits loses them both.

“No horse gets anywhere until it is harnessed. No steam or gas ever drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunnelled. And no life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated and disciplined.”

Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969), US clergyman and educator

Experienced animal trainers take a stool with them when they step into a cage with a lion. Why a stool? It tames the lion better than anything – except maybe a tranquilizer gun. When the trainer holds the stool with the legs extended towards the lion’s face, the animal tries to focus on all four legs at once. And that paralyses him. Dived focus always works against you.

John Maxwell

Source: John Maxwell, 1999, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, p.47

To do two things at once is to do neither.

Publilius Syrus (c. 43BC)

Diffused light has nominal power and little impact but concentrate its energy by focusing it and it can become a powerful medium. Using a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun and you can start a fire. And when light is focused even more acutely, in the form of a laser beam, it can even cut through solid metal. Focus is potency in motion.

Adapted from The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren p.32

If we’ve got our eyes fixed in the right direction, everything else falls into place. When mowing the lawn the way to mow in a straight line is not to look down. If you look down and watch what you are doing the mower goes all over the place. The only way to mow in a straight line is to fix your eyes on an object at the other end of the garden. So it is in the spiritual realm: our hearts will follow our eyes. That is why the writer of Hebrews encourages us to ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’ (Hebrews 12:2).

Nicky Gumbel

Nicky Gumbel, The Jesus Lifestyle, 2010, London: Alpha International, p.172

The sun is a powerful source of energy. Every hour it washes the earth with billions of kilowatts of energy. Yet with a hat and sunscreen you can bathe in its light for some hours with few ill effects. A laser, on the other hand, is a relatively weak source of energy. It takes only a few watts and focuses them. But with a laser you can drill a hole in a diamond or wipe out cancer. Focus brings possibility and power to almost anything. – Bob Gass

Source: The UCB Word For Today, 19/12/2004.

A man who lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs was hard of hearing, so he had no radio. He had trouble with his eyes, so he read no newspapers. But he sold good hot dogs. He put up signs on the highway advertising them. He stood on the side of the road and cried, “Buy a hot dog, mister?” And people bought his hot dogs. He increased his meat and bun orders. He bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade. He finally got his son to come home from college to help out. But then something happened. “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio?” his son asked. “Haven’t you been reading the newspaper? There is a big recession on. The European situation is terrible. The domestic situation is worse.”

The father thought, “Well, my son’s been to college, he read the papers and he listens to the radio, and he ought to know.” So the father cut down his meat and bun orders, took down his signs and no longer bothered to stand out on the highway to sell his hot dogs. His sales fell overnight. “You’re right, son,” he father said to the boy. “We certainly are in the middle of a big recession.”

John Maxwell

Source: John Maxwell, 1993, The Winning Attitude, Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, p.121

“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), surgeon, lecturer, writer

Wherever you are, be there!

We have the choice to either be architects or victims of our future.

Focus & Patience: Joyce Meyer relates the story of Pearl Wait who in 1897 wore several hats. He was a construction worker who dabbled in patent medicines and sold his ailment remedies door-to-door. In the midst of his tinkering he hit upon the idea of mixing fruit flavouring with granulated gelatine. His wife named it ‘Jell-O’ and Wait had one more product to peddle. Unfortunately, sales weren’t as strong as he’d hoped, so in 1899, Pearl Wait sold his Jell-O rights to Orator Woodward for $450. Woodward knew the value of marketing so within just eight brief years, Wait’s neighbour turned a $450 investment into a $1 million business. Today, not a single relative of Pearl Wait receives royalties from the 1.1 million boxes of Jell-O that are sold each day. Why? Because Pearl Wait just couldn’t wait!

Joyce Meyer, 1999, How To Succeed At Being Yourself, Missouri: Harrison House, p.87-88

Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons conducted an experiment at Harvard University more than a decade ago that became infamous in psychology circles. Their book ‘The Invisible Gorilla’ popularised it. And you may be one of the millions of viewers who made their Selective Attention Test one of YouTube’s most-watched videos.

The two researchers filmed students passing basketballs while moving in a circular fashion. In the middle of the short film, a woman dressed in a gorilla suit walks into frame, beats her chest, and walks out of frame. The sequence takes nine seconds in the minute-long video. Viewers are given specific instructions: “Count the number of passes by players wearing white shirts.”

Of course, the researchers were not interested in their pass-counting ability. They wanted to see if the viewers would notice something as obvious as a gorilla. Amazingly, half of the test group did not.

How is that even possible? How do you miss the gorilla in the room? The short answer is inattentional blindness.

Inattentional blindness is the failure to notice something in your field of vision because you are focused on something else, in this case people in white shirts passing basketballs.

The first-century Pharisees (…) couldn’t see the miracles happening right in front of their eyes. Jesus healed an invalid who hadn’t walked in thirty-eight years, gave sight to a man born blind, and restored a man’s withered arm. But the Pharisees missed the miracles, and missed the Messiah, because they were blinded by their legalism. They couldn’t see past their religious assumptions.

Mark Batterson

Source: Mark Batterson, 2014, The Grave Robber, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, p.16-17

“Don’t be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. Instead be a jack-of-a-few-trades, focused on one.”

John Maxwell

Imagine taking a magnifying glass and a piece of paper out into the garden on a hot, sunny day with the intention of starting a fire. If you keep shifting the glass around from one place to another, nothing happens. But if you hold the magnifying glass still and focus on one position, you then harness the sun’s powerful rays and before you know it the paper starts to smoulder and you have fire. The same applies with our thinking: When we remain focused (positive or negative) the object of our thinking eventually materialises.

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt adapted from Discover Your True Potential

Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Think constantly about the things you long for and not the things you fear.

“Behold the fool saith, ‘Put not all thine eggs in one basket’ – which is but a manner of saying, ‘Scatter your money and your attention.’ But the wise man saith, ‘Put all your eggs in one basket and then, watch the basket’.”

Mark Twain (1835-1910), novelist and humourist

“Above all, be of single aim; have a legitimate and useful purpose, and devote yourself unreservedly to it.” – James Allen (1864-1912), English author.