focus.

Do you ever think about your ability to focus?

Do you ever think about the absence of this ability?

We could not have an existence without the ability to focus. Agree?

I started to do this ‘thing’ with students when they are easily distracted in the office environment. I say (like it’s a game): focus on the floor, focus on the door, focus on the window, etc. Then, ‘who is in charge of focus?’

I’m developing some ideas of how to further the activity to support their level of understanding and sense of control – and curiosity – about this power to focus.

The students talk about the game Minecraft (and have since I began working in elementary schools). In my experience, the students have always been the voice of the ‘wise old owl’, the sage. 

I know that if I can get a general outline for a lesson, once I bring it in front of students they are going to ‘next level’ it. They will hit it out of the park with their understanding, their questions, their answers, their interpretations and comments. 

Minecraft. Survival or Creative mode. (I googled Minecraft for a quick reference and learned that there are 5 game modes: survival, creative, adventure, spectator, hardcore – even better).

For this blog post let’s stick to survival or creative: what is your focus?

When we are focused on surviving through the day there is a definite sense of ‘other’. The ‘other’ is out to get us, and our focus needs to be on making it through the day. Our reward is that we get to do it all over again the next day.

When we choose creative mode, we can choose a sense of control over preferred outcomes. Ultimately, it isn’t so much the specific outcomes as it is ‘doing day’ with a perspective or focus of curiosity, that can transform into a sense of positive expectancy. As if something wonderful is about to happen. 

I create when I choose to control my focus on desired outcomes that influence, and contribute to, a desirable state of positive expectancy. The word create suggests that the desired outcomes aren’t necessarily happening in real time – we imagine or visualize our preferred outcomes. I recently read a quote about the difference between talent and genius: a talented person aims at a target that anyone can see and hits it, a genius aims at a target that no one can see and hits it.

Survival mode is operating from a sense of the opposite: expecting something bad to happen. We moralize this as the right way to exist: expect the worst and hope for the best. Really? That’s inspiring.

When we are surviving there has to be an enemy. Something to fear. 

When I practice my ability, my innate skill to be self-aware, I become one who notices my inside world, the sensations in my body – how I am responding to life situations, circumstances, and events. If I am truly in danger my intelligent stress response will take over. If not, I have some space to choose. Stephen Covey calls this space response-ability. I can choose how I respond. My thinking. The theme of my thinking is going to resonate with the story I tell. Is the story rooted in fear and doubt? Or love and possibility? Which theme keeps me stuck and/or spinning in familiar patterns that always include an enemy. Which theme levels up?

Taken from The Pause, [email protected]

The civil rights elder Ruby Sales was a teenager when she marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. She says she was motivated to join the Southern Freedom Movement not merely because she was angry about injustice but because she loved justice itself.

“…and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love.”

Martin Luther King Jr