Here’s How To Stay Focused Through Life’s Distractions
“Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” Sun Tzu
Pat Riley, Head Coach of the Los Angelos Lakers in the 1980s, had a term for distractions — outside of the team.
Much like the 80’s Lakers, you will also encounter peripheral opponents in your life and work. All of us will.
We see them disguised in many different looking ways.
The list of peripheral opponents includes, but is not exclusive to:
- Office politics
- Comparing ourselves to others
- Previous conversations
- Or, anything that distracts us from what matters most in our life and work
It’s often difficult to find the required focus you need to excel in life and work. There are a lot of distractions in life, and nobody gets a pass from these burdens.
And yet, if you plan on living an extraordinary life, these trivial little problems must be ignored, or at least kept at a distance in the most critical moments.
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”
― Winston S. Churchill
The most successful leaders and doers in history, we’re all able to ignore or eliminate their peripheral opponents and focus on the work that mattered most.
Focus On YOU
The idea of focusing on yourself and what you can control — not others — is timeless advice. This idea or theory is a focal point in every philosophical school of thought in the world.
Simple in theory. More complicated in practice.
When was the last time you allowed a trivial distraction to dictate the focus you had during the day? Gossip? Office politics?
I sincerely doubt any of us are guilt-free of this all of the time.
Or, have you allowed some insecurity, something somebody carelessly said to you, or some feeling of anger or disappointment to get between you and the task right in front of you?
We all have. Nobody is perfect. Nobody is undefeated against this opponent.
However, the peripheral opponents in our life will continue to lay siege upon us — if we allow them to. Focusing on ourselves and how we respond to these pesty opponents will ultimately decide our fate against them.
Again, easy in theory, much more difficult in practice.
Work Hard on The Work That Matters
“Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.”
― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
In life, success often feels like the difference between having the ability to focus on what matters most, and then having the ability to tune the rest of it out. This ability to find a laser focus to place our time, energy, and resources towards often feels like a superpower.
In short: tune the inconsequential things out and focus on the stuff that matters most.
Poise. Patience. Laser focus. These don’t have to be exclusive words to describe Hall of Fame-caliber athletes.
These same words should describe all of us. Tuning out all the unnecessary distractions of the day doesn’t need to be a superpower exclusive to the highly successful.
You need it too. We all need it.
The focus should be working hard on the work that matters — not allowing the rush of the irrelevant distractions of the day to take us away from a deep and meaningful focus on what matters most.
Gossip? Ignore it. Office politics? Let it go, it’s not your problem. Angry, upset, or feeling wronged? Work through it, but don’t give in to it.
How you handle these situations that come up, and how you can keep your focus through them, will play such a pivotal role in determining your success.
It will determine success for all of us.
Focus on what matters most.
Develop an Outlet
Developing an outlet to release the stress that builds up from these peripheral opponents is going to be a crucial component of how you handle these situations that come up.
It’s no secret if you read anything in the self-development world for the last ten years that exercising is not only healthy for your heart and body, but it’s also incredibly beneficial for your brain, stress levels, and mental state.
But there are also some other great ways to handle stress, beyond your 3-mile run or trip to the gym. The list also includes:
- Time with people you admire and love
Whatever your outlet, choose the one best for you and your battle with these stubborn peripheral opponents.
If you are going to defeat this opponent, you need the right strategies. You need the right mindsets. You need to acknowledge that this is an opponent.
“Focus on opportunities, not problems.”
Life will always have distractions. Things will occur that are out of your control. Less than ideal situations will come up. Feelings of anger, disappointment, and doubt will creep into our heads. This is unavoidable.
How we respond is what matters most. Our response is what we control.
Don’t allow the peripheral opponents of the day and your life to steal your precious energy and focus.
You’ve got better things to accomplish, and you need that energy towards those great things.
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