Keeping the Focus

I walked out of the house, headed for a meeting. Running late, as usual. I closed the front door, took out my keys, and clicked the button. Nothing happened. I clicked again. Still nothing. Now I was annoyed. I looked down at my keys to see what the problem was. It was then that I realized I was aiming my car key at the house, trying to lock the house door by clicking the car door lock button. Talk about being somewhere else!

It is not unusual for me to leave my house, only to return at least once for something I forgot. Usually I remember when I get in the car, but I have been known to get halfway to my destination when I make the discovery and have to go back to get it. My dog no longer gets up in excitement when I come back…it’s become expected.

The problem for me is focus. I may have stepped away physically from whatever I was working on, but my mind has not gotten the message. I need to practice having my head where my feet are. I need to become more conscious of what I am doing.

I recently saw Diana Nyad, the swimmer who at age 64 was the only person to ever swim from Cuba to Key West. An inspiring speaker, she spent a lot of time talking about this issue of focus. For her, focus was a matter of life and death. If she became distracted, she could have ended up in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean or become a meal for some sea creature.

Beyond those basics, focus for her was the only thing that really made the difference in her succeeding. She recounts the story of how, being alone in the pitch dark, in the pitch dark sea, she found herself often in sensory deprivation. In order to keep herself from falling into hallucinations and to help keep her moving forward, she found that if she sang songs to herself, it would provide a type of metronome to her strokes. It gave her the framework she needed to keep pushing forward. She said that when she sang “Me and Bobby McGee” 1000 times, she knew she had gone 9 hours and 45 minutes. And when your whole trip is just under 53 hours, that’s a lot of singing!

I know the benefits of focus in my life. With it, I can accomplish amazing things. Without it, I’m literally driving in circles. Writing lists, not moving on to the next thing until I consciously clear my head, and surrounding myself with “cheerleaders” who urge me on, and task-masters, who keep me in line, are all ways I maintain my focus.

And now if I could just get the song “Me and Bobby McGee” out of my head…