TL;DR: Focus

Let’s talk about “focus”. I’m skipping the intro ‘blah-blah’ that most “Medium” style articles have to fill up the word-count and I’m cutting to the chase. There is a superpower you and I have. It is the power to focus. But we’re not taking advantage of it.

Let me explain

In the modern world, the problem is not what we don’t have but what we have too much that we must let go of.

Write that down, please. If you have decided to be an entrepreneur, it means that you are trying to provide value in exchange for money. So the higher the value you are providing, the more money you will make. Clear? Excellent.

In order to provide as much value as possible, you’ll have to be good at what you do. As a matter a fact, you have to be so good that they can’t ignore you (from one of my favorite books So Good They Can’t Ignore You).

But there is a fundamental problem. Our capacity is limited. Yes, I was shocked to learn that too since I thought I had an unlimited capacity of brain functionality. I don’t. And you don’t either. But we have enough to make a difference.

Under one condition. We have to focus on what we do for larger amounts of time.

One research showed that the goldfish memory is 9 seconds. The same research showed that average attention span of modern western world humans was 7.5 seconds (if you thought Googling that to find the research you just proved its validity…).

This was in 2012!

In 2012 I had my iPhone 4 and that was a big thing… Imagine 2018 with people running around with iPhone X and Google Pixel 2. Yes, those are great phones and they are fighting for your attention. And guess what, they are winning. Unbelievable possibilities that make it impossible to resist the temptation to check it every 4 seconds… Hold on cause I have a notification from Facebook.

Ok, I’m back, somebody invited me to some stupid Facebook game. A great reason to block some of your friends… Which reminds me, you can block notifications on your phone (at least on Android). This is a good reason to interrupt your reading and do it now…

STOOOP, it was a test, but you thought to do it now didn’t you? If you didn’t and you’re starting to hate my sense of humor that’s a good sign. If I can have a positive impact on you, even if you hate me, I’d be happy. Listen, this is serious. I know that I cannot change the way that you do what you do but I’m hoping to plant a seed that you will grow on your own and you’ll develop your own habits of focus. When you do, you’ll realize that this is a true superpower and since it is becoming super hard for others to focus, you’ll have a competitive advantage. You know that you need every tool in the box to keep your head above the water.

One of the examples I like to go by is the example of a lamp VS a laser. If you have a strong lamp, it can provide light to all directions, you can have a room full of light. But if you have the same power of a simple lightbulb focused on one direction, you have a laser strong enough to cut through steel.

You can choose to use your brain like a laser or like a light bulb. You are smart and your intelligence will shine in all directions. Maybe make you proud when you speak with somebody new. Maybe you’ll get an ego-boost. But it will not make a difference in the world (or in your life) if you don’t focus on one direction for a large amount of time.

What to do?

Guard your attention like gold because it is true gold. Fight your smartphone. Remove all notifications and leave only the important ones. Personally, I have my phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode all the time. Not even my mother can call to interrupt me. There are options that you can take advantage of like having special numbers on your phone be able to call you at any moment while keeping away annoying advertisers that call to sell you stuff. I’m not saying to do what I do and you can choose your own methods to guard your attention. What I am saying is that your attention, your power to focus on one certain topic on large chunks of time, is a superpower that successful people understand and use and unsuccessful people waste.