What’s that? You can’t seem to focus, Mr. Bigglesworth? Spare me.
If you’ve ever been fooled by a magician or laughed at a comedian’s joke then you are capable of focus. The magician directs – or misdirects – your attention in order to fool and delight you. The comedian keeps you engaged during the set-up so that the punchline pays off. In both instances the artist is relying on your focus to make the art possible.
So important is focus to an artist that it’s practically the benchmark for movies: did your mind wander during the movie? Then the movie is a failure. Did the movie keep you interested in what would happen next? Then it’s a success.
The truth is that for most people the issue isn’t the ability to focus but the ability to focus on the right thing. The truth is we’re always focused on something, as anyone who has ever found meditation to be a waste of time can readily confirm. It might not be what we want or should be focused on or – and this is where little boys in particular tend to excel – we quickly shift our focus from one thing to another.
It’s practically axiomatic, then: achieving your objective doesn’t depend on whether you are focused but what you are focused on. And what are we focused on? Much of the time, failure. Especially when the stakes are high.
But the elite downhill skier doesn’t focus on the trees: he focuses between the trees. A pilot doesn’t focus on the bodies of water straddling the runway: he focuses on the runway.
Whether driving a car or remaining faithful to your spouse, where your eyes go your hands tend to follow.
Why do you think shooting out a candle in the darkness of night one of the easiest tricks in the marksman’s bag? The answer is simple: because there’s nothing to see but the target.
© David Deeble All rights reserved.