Jessica Soroky’s Guest Post #44: Tapping into the Power of Focus

power of focusIn a society with so many distractions from people to television, phones, music, and social media, focus can be extremely hard to tap into.

As I continue to study different leaders and leadership practices, the concept of focusing seems to come up everywhere.

After being booted from his own company and returning more than a decade later one great leader, Steve Jobs, said the key to being a leader, a CEO, a visionary, was focus. This became the leadership mantra for Steve Jobs as he brought Apple back to life.

Over the last few months I have been infatuated with the idea of mastering my ability to focus. Just like we practice confront, stretching that muscle until it becomes more comfortable, I wanted to stretch my focus.

With that in mind, when preparing to write a blog or do work one might think an airport is the worst possible place to be able to focus. Challenge accepted.

The Power of Focus

I have had the wonderful ability to travel a lot lately, giving me lots of opportunity to practice. I started by figuring out what was important to be able to focus for me.

  • Safety. Feeling comfortable enough to let my mind get present in my computer instead of constantly searching for possible threats.
  • Comfort. To get work done I need a comfortable place to set up shop.
  • Distraction. Though this may seem counter-productive, just enough distraction in the form of music eliminates the buzz around me.

At home or at the office, safety comes much easier. Being in an environment that is familiar to me immediately gives me enough of an illusion of safety to not worry about it.

Home is the hardest place for me to write, though. The words flow much easier when I am at a coffee shop, in a dark library, or sitting at an airport or on an airplane. So how do I create safety in those places?

I find a seat where I have an open view of what is around me and keep my belongings as close as possible. The rest is an exercise of accepting that safety is simply an illusion.

Comfort comes as a part of safety when I am in a public place. For someone with chronic back pain, the right seat can be one of the most important factors in setting myself up for the ability to focus on my work.

In public locations, comfort may be limited, so I make the most of what is available – sometimes finding that comfy chair hiding in the corner.

As I write this, I am sitting in the Atlanta airport at 10:00 A.M. on a Sunday morning. My bags are right next to me and I found a decent chair close enough to my gate to make sure I don’t get too focused and miss my flight.

The final piece of this puzzle came in the form of finding just the right level of distraction to be able to tune out the rest of the world or in this case the hundreds of other travels who are walking back and forth in front of me.

I want to give an acknowledgement to my mother here who helped me tap into this perfect level of distraction from a very young age.

When I was old enough to start having homework, my mom would sit me down at my favorite little table with a drink and a snack and hand me a CD player and headphones with the same CD in it every time – the original London soundtrack of Les Miserables.

My first memory of this goes back to when I was 6 or 7, and to this day, sitting in this airport, the same soundtrack plays on my iTunes creating my own reality – one in which I can center myself and focus almost entirely at the task at hand.

I have experimented with other music, which typically works just as well. When I am processing or attempting to process a big problem however, Les Miserables is my go to. I can close my eyes and let the sounds of the music take over me.

With those three factors – safety, comfort, and distraction – I am able to get aligned and tap into the power of focus to knock out the work I have to do. I have found this approach helps me enjoy my work much more.

Jeffery Pfeffer, the author of Power, put this phenomenon like this, “You are more likely to acquire power by narrowing your focus and applying your energies, like the sun’s rays, to a limited range of activities in a small number of domains.”

Have you found your special way to focus on your work?

IMG_3285Jessica Soroky, CSM

Only 21 years old, Jessica is already a Certified Scrum Master with two years of practice in agile delivery and team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.

Posted in Responsibility on 07/09/2014 01:54 am
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