Welcome to the start of focusing at Deep Existence!
First, we’re going to look at some of the most well-known quotes about focusing. These quotes reveal key reasons why focusing is the ultimate personal development skill to develop. After each quote, I’ll give my thoughts.
1) Benjamin Franklin
“Never confuse motion with action.”
Ben Franklin is one of my favorite humans to have lived, and he’s full of wise quotes like this one. Have you ever been busy all day, only to wonder what you accomplished when it’s over? In today’s world, distractions are time dumpsters posed as productive pals. Don’t let motion deceive you; it’s not always worthwhile.
2) Zig Ziglar
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
This is an excellent, focused quote. People who claim they don’t have enough time are mistaken – they’re just doing the wrong things with their 24 hours. If you prioritize interruptions, you will miss out on your dreams.
3) Steve Jobs
“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
To me, this quote is as much about who said it as it is what was said. Steve Jobs is an icon of success, being responsible for creating the most valuable company in the world, Apple, and guiding Pixar into dominance. One of his mantras was focus and simplicity, and that should not be a surprise given his level of success.
4) Brian Tracy
“The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.”
This is an interesting way to handle fear; let’s just ignore it as we focus on what we want in life! In many cases, I see this as an excellent life strategy. But do we need to confront our fears?
5) Unknown (Oh the mystery!)
“The successful man is the average man, focused.”
This unknown person was wise. Mediocrity is the result of living a distracted life. In each of the last two days, I’ve taken time to play basketball and study Italian. I feel incredible today from the benefits of aerobic exercise and I can speak a small, but not negligible amount of Italian – Io non sono una donna! Adding the second day amplified the results of the first day. In playing basketball, I felt more “in the zone” from playing the day before and even better physically afterwards. In studying Italian, with yesterday’s lesson in mind, I was able to pick up subtle hints and clues to learn new phrases faster. This is how focus works. If I had practiced Spanish the second day, I’d probably confuse the two languages. If I had watched TV on day two, I wouldn’t have felt so great today or experienced enhanced performance.
6) Greg Anderson
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
Greg Anderson and I agree on this one. Success is the destination, progress is the journey, so let’s focus on progress!
7) Alexander Graham Bell
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
How true is this? Have you ever been completely absorbed in your work? Wasn’t it fun? I believe it’s fun because we’re meant to live this way. It’s when we’re talking on the phone, surfing the web, writing, and eating at the same time that we’re missing the point.
8) Tony Robbins
“Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.”
Tony knows this more than anyone, having coached millions of people. He’s done this himself, building a multi-million dollar business by focusing on helping others help themselves. I’ve got a lot of respect for Tony because his methods are solid.
9) Denis Waitley
“Goals provide the energy source that powers our lives. One of the best ways we can get the most from the energy we have is to focus it. That is what goals can do for us; concentrate our energy.”
Are goals the key to focusing? Mr. Waitley says they are. Broadly, I agree with him, because a goal is a singular desire of a specific future, and that is a perfect recipe for focus. Specifically, I think there is an important day-to-day focusing skill that happens outside of long term goals, but you could call those short term goals.
10) Daisaku Ikeda
“Genuine happiness can only be achieved when we transform our way of life from the unthinking pursuit of pleasure to one committed to enriching our inner lives, when we focus on ‘being more’ rather than simply having more.”
Modern society is largely business and product-based because of the global economy and the internet. This generates a poisonous “I want more stuff” mindset in many people. The most valuable possession you’ll ever own is yourself, and that’s where you should invest!
11) Sydney Madwed
“If you want to be truly successful, invest in yourself to get the knowledge you need to find your unique factor. When you find it and focus on it and persevere your success will blossom.”
This is awkwardly worded in my opinion, but the basic message is to find out what makes you so….you. Then pursue whatever it is that brings you alive. The concept here is a little bit vague for a focus lover, but that’s the nature of the subject matter of “finding yourself.”
12) Tiger Woods
“My main focus is on my game.”
It’s one of the most powerful quotes in here. Why? Tiger Woods is really good at golf. He got good by focusing on it. If you want to be good at something, focus on it.
13) Daniel Day-Lewis
“When I did make the decision to focus on acting, I think my mother was just relieved for me that I had finally started to focus.”
From the actor in the Lincoln film comes a humorous quote with a punch of reality. Choosing something to focus on is a significant accomplishment and step forward in life; Not “oh I want to try this” or “I’ll do this on the side,” but really knowing you want to do something and focusing on it.
14) Paulo Coelho
“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”
Some people hope for success. It doesn’t work. Another key point Paulo brings up is knowing exactly what you want – that is a requirement for focusing. Using his analogy, you can’t hit a target you don’t yet have.
15) Henry David Thoreau
“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”
This says nearly the same thing as the Ben Franklin quote. The pointed question at the end is golden.
“To be everywhere is to be nowhere.”
There is nothing to add to this, but it’s similar to my own quote – “When pulled in every direction, you stay in the same spot.”
17) David Emerald
“One of the fundamental differences between the Victim Orientation and this one [Creator] is where you put your focus of attention…For Victims, the focus is always on what they don’t want: the problems that seem constantly to multiply in their lives. They don’t want the person, condition, or circumstance they consider their Persecutor, and they don’t want the fear that leads to fight, flee or freeze reactions, either. Creators, on the other hand, place their focus on what they do want. Doing this, Creators still face and solve problems in the course of creating outcomes they want, but their focus remains fixed on their ultimate vision.”
Truth and insight are evident in this mini-monologue. Have you experienced this like I have? When I am driven to make something, I sidestep, dodge, and plow through the problems that face me, but when I’m unfocused and drifting through life, every problem seems like a bigger deal than it is. Problem shrinkage is a nice side benefit of focus.
18) Russell Simmons
“It’s important to focus on what we do best and master one craft at a time.”
“A clear and focused mind will last a lifetime. Getting your mind in shape is nothing less than the key to sustainable success in the world.”
These two quotes by Russell (not Richard) Simmons are most powerful together. According to my latest research, I believe the single most important thing a human can do when desiring to improve in any way, is to focus on building the neural pathways that allow them to focus; in other words, train yourself to focus. Once you are able to focus, the “you can do anything” saying becomes much closer to a literal truth.
19) Timothy Ferriss
“Being selective—doing less—is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.”
I really enjoyed the concepts like this that Tim laid out in the Four Hour Workweek. This advice is paramount to success in a given day as well as life. Warning: don’t take it lightly just because you’ve heard similar advice before. Once you choose your targets and take them out with authority and confidence, you won’t go back to the old way of living.
20) Dan Millman
“Avoid fragmentation: Find your focus and seek simplicity. Purposeful living calls for elegant efficiency and economy of effort—expending the minimum time and energy necessary to achieve desired goals.”
There are some great concepts in here – avoid fragmentation and use the minimum time and energy required to accomplish goals. One huge benefit of focus that people don’t think about is that focus energizes you in two ways: first, it’s the most energy efficient way for your brain to handle tasks, and second, tasks will take you less time, meaning more time for recovery if needed.
21) Tony Robbins
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”
I thought this was a good closing quote. Tony says people miss out on what they want in life when they don’t direct their focus. It’s a horrible consequence to not get what you want out of life!
But what if you picked your first target and said, “I am going to master this,” and then did it? You’d feel a sense of empowerment like you’ve never felt before. And that’s what we’ll be learning how to do together at Deep Existence. I’m reading psychology books and a fascinating neuroscience book to form a solid foundation for the material.