47. Problems discover solutions when we do this.

For the past two weeks we have been talking about the power that accompanies the Habit of Focus and late last week I received a call from a lady named Adrian who wanted to tell me of the important roles this powerful habit has played in her life.

She told me that ever since she was a little girl she has employed a “trick” that her mother challenged her to use each time she was faced with a difficult decision or a problem.

The trick, she explained, is to find a quiet “thinking” spot, get comfortable, focus on the problem and keep focusing until she had come up with a list of 50 possible or potential solutions.

She told me that sometimes this process has occupied hours of her time and yet she has disciplined herself to stay focused on the problem until the 50th possible solution has been written down.

On more than one occasion she has felt quite confident that she had found the right solution early on in the process and yet had persevered until reaching the magic number 50 only to find that the 50th solution was the best one.

This all sounded a little bit too simplistic until Adrian supplied me with two dynamic examples of how her use of the Habit of Focus had changed the direction of her life.

In 1987 she had opened a high-end ladies clothing store which she had grown into a small chain with seven locations. Sales began slowing down early in 2006 and by the fall of 2007 her business, her pride and joy, was teetering on collapse with her creditors circling like “bloodthirsty vultures battling each other to get first peck of the corpse.”

Her family and friends were literally begging her to place her company into bankruptcy and to walk away.

She told me that this was a very tempting idea but she wasn’t quite ready to give up 20 years of hard work.

So she went to her favorite thinking spot – a bench in a close-by park and, like so many times before, resolved to focus on this problem until she was able to come up with a list of 50 possible solutions.

This was a tough one. She told me that she sat on the bench for over seven hours, focusing only on one thing, completely oblivious to the people and sounds surrounding her.

Finally after seven hours she stood up and ran home as fast as she could, excited at the prospect of putting newly acquired ideas into place and thereby engineering an “impossible” turn-around of her company.

Today, some six years later, she has 12 locations and they are all booming. She attributes her success to her ongoing use of the Habit of Focus.

Nine months later, while in the midst of her turnaround, a persistent cough led her to her doctor and a chest x-ray then later to an oncologist who informed her she had lung cancer.

A lifelong non-smoker she was devastated by the diagnosis but, “after a few days of self-pity and anger” she decided that this was no different than other problems she had faced and that she needed to seek a solution.

Back she went to her favorite thinking space. The solutions she came up with inspired her to dive deeply into researching her disease and seek the best treatments available. Once the research was completed, she informed her family doctor of the type of treatment she wanted and he helped her find a provider.

She has just celebrated her fifth anniversary of being cancer free. Naturally, she has no way of knowing what the outcome from other treatments might have been, but she is certain that her Habit of Focus directed her to the one that was best for her.

Adrian told me that she is convinced that the solutions to all of our problems and challenges lie within us all and that we seldom find them because we do not take the time to focus.

Having heard how instrumental the Habit of Focus has been in Adrian’s life, I cannot help but believe that if we all took the time to find a favorite thinking space, stayed there until we had 50 solutions to each of our problems, and then implemented the best ones, we would all live lives as joyful and fulfilled as Adrian’s.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

46. Can we please focus?

Imagine having a goal.

Now imagine that nothing in the entire world has any place in your conscious awareness other than achieving that goal.

Your every waking thought is intensely focused on achieving that goal.

You immerse yourself entirely in thoughts and actions that draw you closer and closer to the goal.

The thought of failure does not even enter your mind.

There exists no mountain high enough, wide enough or deep enough to keep you from your goal.

It’s all you can think about. It’s all you want to think about.

What is the likelihood that you will succeed in achieving your goal?

Now imagine having a goal.

Now imagine that it vies for temporary space in your conscious awareness.

Some days, a few of your waking thoughts fleetingly remember your goal.

You occasionally spend a few moments thinking of what you should do to draw you closer to call.

The thought of successfully achieving your goal rarely enter your mind.

Your goal is on the other side of an enormous mountain and you’re not sure if you have what it takes to get there.

You find yourself thinking less and less of your goal.

What is the likelihood that you will succeed in achieving your goal?

The Habit of Focus is as vital to the success of our goals as the air we breathe.

Einstein, who was famously noted for his ability to shut out the entire world for long periods of time while focusing fully on projects at hand, famously stated that, “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

He also said, “I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.”

The Habit of Focus is an extraordinary gift available to all who seek its wonder.

It enhances enormously our efficiency.

It multiplies our productivity.

It reduces gigantic problems to tiny bite sized solutions.

It brings out the genius level creativity that is latent in us all.

It replaces confusion with clarity.

It takes us inside places where all things are possible.

And in yet another of life’s strange dichotomies it is both sinfully simple and painfully difficult.

It is imperative for us to acquire, adopt and master the Habit of Focus as a rock solid foundation upon which we sit bold goals and dreams daring dreams.

The achievement of those goals and dreams often require great determination, temerity and resolve, and yet none of these three traits, by themselves, will enable us to reach our goals and live their dreams if we fail to master the Habit of Focus.

Many of us have had experiences like this: as we’re leaving the house we reach out to the usual place for our keys, and they’re not there.

And we spent the next hour turning our homes upside down in search of those keys. Only one thing matters in the world – finding them. We ignore the ringing telephone, the knock on the door and the urgency of getting to a meeting on time.

We’re on a mission: find the keys, find the keys, find the keys, find the keys, find the keys.

That is called focus and if we can apply that intensity to other aspects of our lives we would be unstoppable.

The Habit of Focus is not optional if success is part of your game plan.

And your keys are in your sock drawer where you left them.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

–  I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.    

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at rael@raelkalley.com and share your thoughts.

– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.

Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.

45. Single-tasking is the way to go.

“Multitasking is the function of doing several things at the same time and doing all of them badly.”

Reading those words recently in a magazine article put an immediate smile to my face as I realized the truthfulness of that statement.

For several years now the term “multitasking” has come into common usage as a way for many to explain how they are able to get through one busy day after another.

The experts tell us that multitasking is not within the human capability. Our consciousness is far too limited for us to focus, in any great detail, on more than one thing at a time. In fact, the same experts point to studies that show that the amount of time required to complete any one task is extended by up to 30% when we pursue that task while simultaneously attempting others.

I claim no expertise on this matter but my friend Jack appears to be living proof that singularity of focus is the way to go.

Jack is one of several managers who are responsible for the Western Canadian operations of a large international company. He has approximately 9 direct reports and a daily “To Do” list that would cause many of us to scream loudly for the need for more assistants.

His colleagues are in awe of his ability to get things done. They describe him as a machine that never stops and are constantly seeking his counsel on how to become more efficient.

Jack gives them the same answer every single time and yet they seem unwilling or incapable of grasping the obvious. Jack is a committed devotee of the Habit of Focus and has credited this habit for his ability to deliver huge volumes of productivity.

Jack has explained to me that in his view “focus is the mother of genius” and he attributes his machine-like capabilities to the simple fact that he only does one thing at a time and stays with it until it is complete.

Unlike his colleagues, Jack does not drop what is doing to answer the phone each time it rings. He pays no attention to the ringing phone and continues to work away at whatever he was doing when the phone rang.

When Jack has phone calls to make, he makes all of them at the same time. He also designates time to respond to voicemail. Those are the only times Jack uses his phone.

Jack only checks his email at certain times of the day and uses the same times to respond to emails or send new ones.

His staff know that he is always available to them and that his door is always open. However, they have also been trained to ask themselves, before entering Jack’s office, how important it is to meet with Jack right now, whether the topics at hand can wait until a later time or whether they can simply text or email Jack in order to schedule an appointment. They also know that if their need to meet with Jack is urgent, he will drop whatever he’s doing and give them as much time as they need.

His staff will tell you one other thing about Jack. When they are with him, he is completely with them. He does not answer his phone, respond to email or read texts. His focus is 100% on them.

Jack believes that the Habit of Focus is essential if one wants to accomplish a lot and he applies this to everything he does.

He does not believe in working lunches and, as he brings his own lunch to work most days, he spends his lunchtime either engaged in social interaction with colleagues or in some other personal, relaxing activity.

He has trained his staff to “do one thing well and stay with it until it is done” and his devotion to the Habit of Focus has paid off handsomely. His team has been the top rated team of performers in their company for the past nine years.

If you were to ask Jack to help you solve a problem he would simply tell you to focus on the problem, and do nothing else, until the solution “hits you between the eyes.”

The Habit of Focus. Something we should all focus on.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

–  I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.    

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at rael@raelkalley.com and share your thoughts.

– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is YoursPlease click here and take a moment to read it.

– Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.

 

44. It ain’t always easy being an optimist.

Over the past two weeks I have received a number of calls and emails from people who have contacted me to say the Habit of Optimism has been extremely timely for them.

Several of these calls were from small business owners who shared their daily challenges of keeping the doors open while maintaining a sense of optimism that even though things may be tough right now, they will get better.

These folks are the backbone of our economy. It is the small business owners who, often armed with nothing more than a belief that things will work out – a sense of optimism, provide the majority of jobs in this country.

Many of them are bravely pursuing their dreams with the odds of success stacked against them and yet, day after day, frequently stressed to the max, they put on a brave smile and go out there seeking small victories in a highly competitive world.

Only those who have been there can truly understand the mindset of an entrepreneur. That burning desire to do something on your own, to answer to no one, to forge your own way in the world, to be willing to be knocked down time and time again because the pain of getting up is less than the pain of giving up, and to give your all in the knowledge that your only reward may well be the laughter and derision of others.

Over the course of my career I’ve talked to small business owners who, in order, to meet payroll and pay the bills, have sold their homes, their cars, their furniture, and in one case, even their clothes.

I have met others who have skipped meals, placed cardboard inside their shoes to cover up holes and have walked 40 blocks to make sales presentations in order to conserve the gas in their vehicles and save the cost of parking.

All because they share the Habit of Optimism that has instilled in them the irrepressible optimism and unshakable belief that if they just find a way to stay in the game one more day they will eventually emerge victorious.

These folks are the heroes of our economy. They often sacrifice much of their lives and, along the way, collectively provide employment and security for hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens.

Many of them take home far smaller paychecks than their lowest paid employees and do so willingly because they believe that the path they are on is the one to their dreams.

Many of these folks are surrounded by well-intentioned and caring people who consistently exhort them to “give it up and get a real job” and yet they soldier on determined to be the masters of their own fate.

Some will achieve unimaginable success, the majority will either fail or just barely get by and yet it is the can do/will do/must do spirit that these optimists bring to our society that contributes to the betterment of all.

Their journey is often a lonely one that, at times, can strain their families to a breaking point and yet so many of them, wrapped firmly in the Habit of Optimism, begin every day with renewed vigour and enthusiasm, convinced that this is the day of the big breakthrough.

The self-employed are tough and hearty folks whose optimism is crucial to their survival. Their life is not for everyone but their perpetual belief in a better tomorrow is a gift for all.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

–  I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.    

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at rael@raelkalley.com and share your thoughts.

– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.

Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.