Whether or not you’re interested in soccer, you’ve likely heard of Harry Kane during the recent World Cup coverage. An English footballer, Kane has earned world acclaim for his work ethic (while citing a very different footballer, Tom Brady, as a source of inspiration). Kane has also vowed to use the recent experience of missing a penalty that would have tied England’s quarter-final match against France to become “mentally and physically stronger for the next challenge.”
Some people might argue that Kane has just been lucky — but, at Arootah, we know better.
To develop Kane’s so-called luck and the ability to bounce back, no matter what, takes grit and perseverance. And that all starts with focus.
Here’s what you need to know to channel the same strength of mind Kane has used to both propel himself to success and overcome challenges.
The Importance of Focus in Your Life
Oprah famously said, “I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.” And one way you can make sure you’re prepared for every lucky opportunity that comes your way is to develop a focus mindset.
Being results-focused is central to Arootah’s values. “Focus is the ability to pay singular attention to the object in front of us,” explains Arootah Founder and CEO Rich Bello. “It’s a valuable commodity…a precious resource we must decide how to allocate to get the highest return on its limited amount. We literally have a limited amount of focus that we can spend each day and in each moment.”
Staying focused and possessing strength of mind will keep you on track to achieving your goals, direct you toward what truly matters, and prepare you for when opportunities arise — whether they emerge in your personal or professional life.
Pattern Recognition Skills
Among the Tom Brady’s and Harry Kanes of the world, one major key to success is pattern identification. In highly stressful moments — the deafening roar of thousands of fans in the bleachers; multiple large (or fast, or both!) opponents coming at them — Brady and Kane never panic or freeze up because they recognize patterns.
Pattern recognition skills enable us to react quickly and masterfully in certain situations because, after we’ve put in a relentless number of hours practicing, observing, or experiencing these situations, our minds can unconsciously predict what’s most likely to happen next.
Pattern recognition builds on our existing thinking processes and strengthens our ability to understand sequences and systems. Honing these skills enables us to grow and develop new, innovative ways of thinking — whether that’s playing the violin, learning a new language, or becoming a better problem solver.
Improving your pattern recognition skills requires dedication to developing deep, deep focus.
So, What Do Focused People Do?
Truly focused people have a few key behaviors, and you can replicate them. Bello, for example, has encouraged individuals he has coached and advised over the years to:
- Eliminate distractions, especially from technology
- Remember what you can and can’t control (and refuse to focus on what you cannot)
- Meditate regularly, or establish a meditation practice
- Ask thoughtful questions to help direct your focus where it matters most
“The power of focused attention is astonishing,” says Bello. “A great analogy is a magnifying glass. If you focus the rays of the sun into a magnifying glass that’s moving around, nothing really happens. But if you hold the magnifying glass completely still and focus intensely on one area, say a piece of paper, what happens? It bursts into flames.”
“The most powerful form of focus is the ability to focus within,” he adds. “When you can do that persistently and continually for long periods of time, the world will be navigable with relative ease. You will have great access to a power you never even knew you had.”
What Should You Focus on?
Focus is, however, a limited resource. You can only focus so much at one time. So, how can you ensure that you’re focusing on the things that matter most? Bello says to identify the actions you can take to achieve the highest return and focus on completing them.
“We have the power and free will to decide what to focus on, but others are constantly trying to steal our focus, usually for profit,” explains Bello. “When we think about what we should focus on, though, a common problem we encounter is that there are so many different things we could focus on.”
To stay on track, he recommends using a simple elimination method to decide where your focus is best spent. You’ll see the greatest benefits and returns if you focus on things that are…
- In your direct control, such as your habits, mindset, and business decisions
- In your sphere of influence, such as who you vote for, or who you choose as friends
It’s also crucial to spend less time focusing on things completely outside your control and influence. Many people spend too much time in this area and end up completely wasting their focus. For example, you can’t control the person who cut you off in traffic this morning and the moment has already passed. Why continue worrying about it or stewing over it the rest of the day? Your focus could be better served elsewhere.
Change Your Mindset = Change Your Life
Adopting a focus mindset can literally change your life. No matter what your goals are, whether they’re big or small, they’re only attainable with the right focus.
You may find it daunting to begin the process of developing the strength of mind, grit, and perseverance you need to succeed to reach your goals. But having the right support and encouragement can make changing your mindset, and therefore your goals, much more attainable.
How Coaching can Help You Leverage Your Focus
We can all use a little assistance in redirecting our focus sometimes. Coaching is an excellent tool to support you in gaining clarity around where your focus should be so you can develop habits and a plan to keep it there.
A life coach can empower you to take your thought patterns and habits from functional to exceptional by identifying obstacles and training your brain to overcome them. It’s their job to help you achieve more in life — through the power of a focused mindset. Arootah coaches go a step further by empowering you to create an action plan for reaching your goals and then holding you accountable to it.