Posts Tagged ‘focus’

A Simple Psychological Shift To Make You Successful

Monday, February 20th, 2017

Before becoming an FBI agent, I thought I could become successful by simply working hard. It got me through school with good grades and into my first job as a fashion buyer.

My thinking shifted, however, when I met my first FBI firearms instructor. He barked out constant reminders that if I wanted to become more successful as a shooter, it would take more than hard work; it would take front-sight focus.

Front-sight focus is the ability to look at the front sight of a weapon after lining it up with the target. A good shooter remains aware of their surroundings and always has their objective in mind, but their attention narrows to that single piece of steel a few inches in front of them.

FBI firearms training prepared me for more than high scores on targets. I used front-sight focus in my investigations to distinguish between what was important and what was a distraction.

Front-sight focus is concentration and single-mindedness in reaching your goal, whether it’s aiming a weapon on the firing range, landing a new client, or taking your business to the next level.

You need front sight-focus to work through distractions so you can become successful when things go wrong in business and life.

Here are 3 tips to help you focus so you can be successful:

1. QUIET THE INNER NAG

Distractions often occur when our inner nag starts fretting about all the things that need to get done. As a result, intrusive thoughts constantly interrupt our productivity, and we end up second-guessing our choices.

Research behind the Zeigarnik Effect proves that the unconscious mind needs the conscious mind to plan how to finish tasks or accomplish goals. That’s why the inner nag keeps fretting about all that needs to be done.

How To Make It Work For You:

Sit down in a quiet place with a pen and paper and let your thoughts ramble.

Whether it’s small or large, important or not, write down every single thing that either needs a decision or has your attention.

Do not take the time to prioritize the items on your To-Do list. First, listen to the voice of that inner nag and write down whatever pops up.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR ACTION STEP

FBI firearms training showed me to how to narrow my focus to the one thing that needs attention immediately (front-sight) while at the same time registering awareness of the bigger picture of other things around me (the target).

In the same way, your conscious mind may now be focused on a new goal, but the unconscious mind still sees everything else that needs to get done. It needs closure and it will continue to create intrusive thoughts that won’t go away until you’ve turned your attention back to those other tasks that also need to be addressed.

In his book, Getting Things Done, David Allen talks about the importance of identifying Action Steps rather than leaving it as a To-Do List.

A To-Do List does not narrow your focus enough when you have lots of priorities clamoring for your attention. You continue to create anxiety for the unconscious mind because it needs more than a goal—it needs a plan! It needs an action step.

How To Make It Work For You:

Prioritize your To-Do list. You’ve addressed all the tasks that your unconscious brain is anxious about, but now you need to prioritize each item according to importance.

Beside each item on the prioritized To-Do list, identify the specific next action step to be taken regarding that item. For example, if you need to buy a birthday present, write down “Drive to Nordstrom.”

3. CLARIFY THE ACTION

The unconscious mind needs specifics like time, place, and opportunity. Once the plan is formed, the unconscious stops nagging with constant reminders.

For example, one of the items on my current To-Do List—“Write an article on why emotional awareness is essential for mental toughness.” Even now, there is a part of me that wants to skip over that item and ignore it.

Why? I experience low-grade anxiety over the fact that it will take a big chunk of time to research the topic and pull together enough information for a decent article.

To avoid the anxiety, I need to break down the task into small steps. This action step as it is written is far too vague and broad. As a result, my brain feels overwhelmed by trying to tease out all the elements that will be needed to finish the article.

If I attack the problem by clarifying the action step I need to take, it will look something like this: “I will spend half an hour Thursday afternoon preparing an outline for the article so I’m ready to start writing it on Friday morning.”

How To Make It Work For You:

The unconscious mind needs specifics like time, place, and opportunity. Once the plan is formed, the unconscious stops nagging with constant reminders.

If you have a presentation to make at 8:00am, your unconscious mind wants to know exactly what needs to be done. You may have 100 other items that also need attention, but you can relax and not worry about the inner nag bothering you again about it if you make a plan to review your notes at 7:00am that morning.

It is human nature to finish what we start, and front-sight focus is how we pay full attention to one goal at a time so we can be successful.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

Determination — 4 Reasons Why It’s Important

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Determination and persistence were a way of life for me growing up as a hillbilly in Wyoming. We were among the poor and rural that make up most of this state—a two-hour drive from the nearest small town.

For this reason, we had a private tutor provided by the state who lived in the house with us. I was in first grade and her name was Mrs. Garrity. A retired school teacher from Chicago, she thought living on a remote cattle ranch in the middle of Wyoming would be an adventure.

It was 10 miles on dirt road from our ranch house to the last gate on our property, and another 60 miles to town. Mrs. Garrrity went home for Christmas and was due back after the New Year. She didn’t arrive on Sunday evening as scheduled, and I was happily playing in the snow by the horse barn when I looked up and saw my grandfather screech his pickup to a halt. He didn’t even bother to open the gate and drive in. Instead, he jumped over it and motioned to my dad to join them. Immediately, both raced to the house.

The only communication available in this remote area was a two-way radio so I followed them. I knew something big was up and I couldn’t wait to find out!

It seems that Mrs. Garrity got her car stuck in a snowdrift just as she passed through that last gate that led onto our property. Perhaps she didn’t realize she was 10 miles from the ranch house, but she started to walk in the cold and dark. She made it 5 miles before she froze to death.

My grandfather had found her body beside a wire fence. He covered her up with an old tarp he had stashed in his pickup and weighed it down with 2 fence posts placed on either side of the body.

Saddened beyond words, our whole family reacted as only stoic and stalwart people can in a situation like this—we kept moving forward. We had no contingency plan for a tragedy like this. We had a body to protect from wolves and coyotes until a coroner arrived, no teacher, and absolutely no idea how I would graduate from first grade without one.

Entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders all understand how life and business can surprise us. You have plans, and they work fine, until you get sucker punched by new competition, market upheavals, or high employee turnover.

Often, your determination is the glue that holds your organization together when plans go awry or you’re confronted with an unexpected obstacle.

Here are 4 reasons determination is important to your success:

1. DETERMINATION HELPS YOU OVERCOME THE UNEXPECTED

When things do not go according to plan, it’s tempting to give up. We lose our confidence and think about moving on to something that is easier. This is exactly what most people do because we’re afraid of failure and shirk away from things that are hard and necessary.

Plans make us feel safe, but be ready when things spin out of your control so you can still land on your feet. You may need to change course and adapt in some way. Your goal remains the same, but your roadmap to get there may need to be changed.

My parents could never have anticipated Mrs. Garrity’s death, but they drilled into me the dangers of surviving winters at an altitude of 7,000 ft. We always had extra blankets and clothes in our pickup when we traveled in cold weather.

Mrs. Garrity was found wearing nothing but a dress, light jacket, low heels, and a flimsy scarf.

What It Means For You: Develop an agile mindset by trying to anticipate potential setbacks and have a contingency plan for them.

2. DETERMINATION ENABLES YOU TO KEEP FOCUSED

When things go wrong it is hard to maintain motivation and focus. Determination allows you to remain focused on long term goals so you can adjust your behavior accordingly.

Often, this requires you to keep emotions in check to prevent them from sabotaging your efforts to keep moving forward.

We were laden with grief when Mrs. Garrity died. Packing up her things and sending them, along with her body, back to Chicago was emotionally very difficult. Maintaining focus on our duty to her family remained at the forefront of our thinking.

What It Means For You: Visualize yourself accomplishing your goal no matter what it takes. Keep your eye on the goal and see yourself reaching the end.

3. DETERMINATION IS FED BY ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT

When things spin out of your control, find support and encouragement from those around you whom you trust and admire. Based on their experience and expertise, seek out their advice and suggestions on how to keep moving forward.

Successful people with determination understand that they still need to do the hard work, but it is very encouraging when you are surrounded with positive reinforcement. No one is their own island and we all need other people’s assistance. It might just be a short chat or a few words of support.

Be the person who reaches out when you need support rather than give up.

A former schoolteacher heard about our situation and agreed to replace Mrs. Garrity so I could graduate from first grade. Our predictament was shared by many good friends and neighbors who wanted to reach out and help.

What It Means For You: Do not be afraid to share your situation with others, but be picky about it. Make sure they are people who truly want what is best for you and will give you both constructive and positive feedback. Look for “mirror” friends who will be honest, loving, and objective.

4. DETERMINATION MAKES YOU DIG DEEP DOWN

If you are on a path that has value and meaning for you, you are definitely on the right path, so keep going. If you are not, then a setback or failure will be enough to make you give up and try something else.

Success can be very misleading because often it is where we stay, whether it’s what really fuels us or not. It is a success that is based in complacency because we are too scared of failure to pursue the type of work that would provide value and meaning.

What It Means For You: Don’t take the easy way out. Dig deep down and find the things that you can’t walk away from; that is your true north. When you are pursuing that kind of goal, it won’t matter what other people say because your inner vision is far stronger than any external obstacle you will come up against.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”