Fierce Focus



October 30, 2020


There are 62 days left in 2020. That is just about the amount of time we need to change a habit! We used to think it took 21 days to create a new habit. More recent research suggests it takes 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic. Let's start Now! 

What is your focus to close out the year? How do you want to remember 2020? What can you do -- what is under your control  -- what will you choose to do? 

Let us each decide from our unique perspective and circumstance.  When we Fiercely Focus -- we can do anything! 

Indeed, this is One Big Decision.

Mary Oliver's poem, "The Summer Day," puts our decision in high relief: 

"Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean --
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down -  who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. 
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, 
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what i have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

How does this poem inspire you?

I am inspired by the image of a grasshopper. Do you  remember David Carrradine in the Kung Fu movie or the line from the Karate Kid, "Patience, grasshopper?" I feel Grasshopper is a term of endearment -- and connects us in a way that  conveys we are all on a journey and always learning. 

The line in this poem, aside from the famous last line, that jumps out at me is: 
                         "Tell me, what else should I have done?"

This line shouts to me: STOP! In this crazy chaotic year of 2020 -- what is the one thing I want to do, or the one thing I want to do differently before 2020 ends?  What is the one thing I will do that will make me smile when I close out the year? 

We are always one decision away, one step away, from the journey of a thousand miles -- our "one wild and precious life."  

I am suggesting that we stop right now and take a kind and gentle retrospective of 2020 to-date. Let us be aware of our unique challenges this year-- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

How is our health? Are we nurturing and healing our bodies or are we short-changing caring for ourselves? How is our frame of mind? Are we lost -- or are we on our purpose, our life's mission? Are we stressed or depressed -- or are we, mostly, creating experiences and adventures that bring us joy and happiness? Have we been nurturing our relationship with ourselves, our partner, our family and friends, our pets -- or have we been off-kilter and largely absent or isolated? How about our financial resources? Are we stretched and worried -- or are we focused on the abundance around us? How about our energy -- physically, mentally and emotionally? Are the people we are around draining our batteries -- or charging our batteries? Are we creating and learning or are we stuck and stagnating? Are we feeding our soul and spiritual life -- or are we starving our spirituality? 

Let us each make one decision and focus on one thing -- one area that is most important to us, right now! 

Steve Jobs says, "Focusing is about saying No." What will we start saying No to? What is the one thing we will say Yes to? No multi-tasking. No distractions. Fierce Focus! 

What does Fierce Focus mean, in a practical sense? I learned a lot from a 10-Day Course taught by Cara Bradley which I took several years ago. This course is offered on Insight Timer. Cara Bradley is a former pro skater, founder of Verge Body-Mind Center in Philadelphia, author, and teacher. She has trained professionals at Coca-Cola, The World Bank and Goldman Sachs and partners with Flow Genome Project. Cara is dedicated to training busy people to shift from feeling frenzied to living in flow. Living in the zone or living in flow is not just for athletes or busy professionals. I know a lot of mothers of toddlers and teenagers who could use these tips, for example. Ditto for teenagers and retirees. 

In "10 Strategies For Living In Flow," Lesson 7 is "Building Fierce Focus." I encourage you to take this course. Here are some of my key take-aways from Cara's teachings:  

  • Fierce Focus is a mental strength strategy to sustain focus.
  • Flow demands you focus on a single action at a time. There is no room for distractions or multi-tasking, because that is when mistakes most often happen. .
  • Return to the Present Moment, again and again, by asking yourself, "Am I distracted or directed?"
  • We need to train our mind to to be at attention and to build endurance. Mindfulness is our mental strength training. In other words, take your mind to the gym and exercise that precious muscle.  
  • How do you train your mind? One way is to give your mind a job -- focus on your breath, or focus on your eyes or your senses. 
  • Another tool is to commit to staying on task for a period of time, like 20 minutes. For example, take 100 free flows, sink 50 putts, or clean up the 500 emails in your inbox. I did this last exercise over the weekend!
  • You perform at your best when you show up with energy and confidence -- when you are in flow. 
  • When you are Fiercely Focused, Living in Flow,  your performance goes through the roof! 

Please check out Cara Bradley's course on Insight Timer. I am confident you will learn a lot about energy, productivity and what it means -- what it feels like -- to live in the flow. 

So, what is your One Big Decision? I will share mine. I will focus on moving my physicality to the next level. I will focus on nurturing my body with better nutrition, more cardio, more toning & weightlifting. I have had a frenetic year taking on new projects for others and at the same time growing my business. I have been stretched -- in a good way --  and for good reasons. I told myself last April -- slow down. I did not slow down. Well, now I will slow down and nourish my physicality. 

Once we have made our One Big Decision for how we will close 2020, it is important to: 

  • Integrate your intention into your daily Morning ritual.
  • Reinforce your intention in your daily meditation practice. 
  • Use one of the best autosuggestions ever -- "Everyday in everyway, I am getting better and better at _____." Fill in the blank with your intention. 
  • Consider asking a friend to be an accountability partner. 
  • Post your intention on sticky notes -- on your computer, your mirror, your refrigerator, your... whatever.  
  • Explore books that will support you growing into your intention, play music which resonates with your theme -- find inspiration in whatever medium and media which lights up your spirit. 
  • Make it FUN!

What have you decided to do to finish up 2020 with a smile?
             "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" 

I hope you will share your ideas with me and close friends. I would love to hear from you and cheer you on! 

Till next time, stay well!

May you be happy now and always


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