"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
"In the Zone!" That's how champions are described when they are focused like a laser during competition or a performance. Indeed, focus is one of the key characteristics that champions share in common.
In this, our fifth post in the Championship Series, we examine the critical role that focus plays in the making of a champion.
Focus can best be defined as concentration. It involves directing attention to a specific point or task. Champions have the uncanny ability to tune out distracting "background noise" and focus exclusively on the task at hand. And that focus is sharpened even more when the task at hand is aligned with his/her overall vison/ purpose/ goals.
The champion's intense focus is so important because of the huge payoff it delivers. Focus leads to enhanced performance and better results, precisely when the stakes are the highest. Indeed, champions don't allow themselves to get sidetracked or distracted, particularly during critical times. They stay laser-focused and keep their eyes on the prize! (Case in point - Michael Jordan's performance peaked, especially, during NBA Playoff and Championship games!)
Champions possess the ability to "zone in" on what is most important at a particular point in time, while filtering out environmental factors that might cause distractions. And if they are temporarily distracted, they have the unique ability to refocus quickly.
This raises the following interesting question: "Can focus be managed or improved? And if so, how?"
Concentrating, paying attention for an extended period of time, can be managed by the average individual. Sports psychologists have long used a number of techniques and protocols that, among other things, help atheletes and others, to improve their focus. These techniques include goal setting, imagery, performance routines, and self-talk.
However, the following are a few basic tips for getting started on managing or improving focus:
1. Select your number one priority task and perform that first.
2. Once you select your task, stick with it until it's completed, even if you have to take periodic breaks in the process.
3. Eliminate as many distractions from your environment as possible (e.g., close unnecessary computer screens or programs if you are working online).
4. Reward yourself after completing a difficult task (e.g., your favorite tea, latte, or chocolate).
5. Practice interval training (e.g., the Pomodora technique) to increase the duration of your concentration.
Remember, researchers say it takes about 21 days to change any habit. So, give yourself time to see results.
People of faith understand the concept and importance of focus better than many. In the Biblical story where Peter was bidden by the LORD to join him on the water, Peter only began to falter and sink when he became distracted and took his focus off Jesus. Moral of this story - Keep your eyes focused on Christ in all your endeavors!
For more on the key trait of focus check out the following links:
How to Stay Focused to Complete Tasks - About.com
How to Get Organized and Concentrate on Your Work - WikiHow
Sport Psychology - Wikipedia
Duration of Pre-Performance Routines of Divers and Performance Outcomes - The Sport Journal
Competitive Greatness Defined
The Pomodoro Technique
51 Bible Verses About Staying Focused - OpenBible.info
How are you staying focused to achieve your goals?
Until next time,
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!
Hi! I'm Kenneth Lillard, author, ordained minister, and motivational speaker. This blog is an expression of some of my thoughts and opinions. I'm glad you stopped by. Hope you'll share some of your comments while you're here. Be Blessed!