The Power of Focus

Ryan Battles  •   Personal Growth

The Power of Focus

I have a hard time focusing on one thing. I’m not even talking about life balance here. Sure, there’s balancing family, community, and work responsibilities, but even within those categories I have a hard time focusing on what is really important, and instead am distracted by the non-essentials.

Recently one of my business partners suggested that I pick up a bestselling book titled The One Thing. With 4.5 stars and over 500 reviews on Amazon, I figured I’d give the book a try. After reading two chapters, I was struck by an idea that they put forth, and it is via an analogy of dominoes.

It has been discovered that dominoes are capable of toppling another domino in front of it that is 1.5 times its’ size. This means a standard 2-inch domino can take down a 3-inch domino in front of it. This domino, in turn, can take down a 4.5-inch domino. By the 10th domino, you could take down a plank the size of a man.

These numbers are easy to fathom, but they quickly spiral out of control when you keep multiplying them by 1.5. How tall do you think the 100th domino would be? Taller than the Empire State Building? Taller than Mount Everest? Yes on both accounts. In fact, by domino #58 we would have hit the moon, and on #72 hit the sun.

Consistent progression gets results.

I have to pause and consider what habits in my life, although small, would eventually build up to incredible results? What would happen if I:

  • Wrote 1,000 words consistently each and every day.
  • Exercised for 30 minutes each and every day.
  • Read for 20 minutes to my kids each and every day.

Over time, these small habits would accumulate to greater business success, a healthy body, and deeper relationships with those I love.

The opposite can also happen too. Bad habits build upon each other as well. What would happen if I:

  • Watched 5 hours of television each and every day (the American average).
  • Ate 20% of my meals in the car (the American average).
  • Spent no more than 5 minutes with my kids each day (the average time a Dad spent with kids in 1970).

Over time, these poor habits would lead to less success, an unhealthy body, and shallower relationships with those I love.

What habits, good or bad, are you allowing yourself to form? What effect will they have down the road?

As 2014 comes to a close, many of us are starting to think of our New Year’s resolutions. Instead of coming up with a handful of goals that I typically won’t meet, I’m going to come up with one concrete goal for each of these five categories:

  1. Family
  2. Health
  3. Work
  4. Community
  5. Finances

Then, I’ll start by knocking over the first domino in each category. I’ll look for that 2-inch win that takes no effort to pull off. After that, I’m sure I’ll find the 3-inch win, the 4.5 inch win, and before I know it I’ll be achieving measurable success in each category.

The key to this is going to be keeping things focused on one goal in each life area. Of course, other improvements are welcomed, but a laser-focus on one area will ensure that I at least have five measurable successes in 2015.

Here’s to the new year!

Image by Ben Earwicker, Garrison Photography, Boise, ID