Until recently, elementary schools taught reading, writing, and arithmetic as the 3 R's. Now, in addition to these R's, some schools understand that learning about relationships and self-regulation are other important R's that children need. Some innovative programs are emerging that teach children mindfulness practices. This is a leap forward for all learning. Learning how to focus our mind is key to any learning, success, and ultimately, fulfillment.
I think of our minds like a powerful Lamborghini. The problem, it seems, is that we are not taught how to handle this powerful machine. As a result, we careen off the road when going around tight bends. We haven't yet learned how to stay on the road. Once we do learn that, driving is not only more pleasurable, but we can arrive safely at our destination as well.
Think of this month's topic, focusing, as the training manual for your Lamborghini.
When I was young, my father often told me that to complete something, you had to have “tuchus.” It was his way of saying that you had to have perseverance. That is true. But that was not enough. I could sit there but my mind wandered. How to rein my mind in so that I thought about what I wanted my mind to think about was the other half of the problem.
That part of the equation brings with it many obstacles. It is the nature of the mind to wander. However, laser focus is needed to accomplish many things. To attain laser focus, we must get clear about the obstacles—being uninterested and bored; fearing that the product would not be good enough or that it wouldn't be perfect; worrying about how your work compared to others; believing that you didn't have anything to add to the conversation; thinking your ideas were stupid—the list of obstacles our minds can create to take us away from what we want to be focused on is endless.
So, I realized early that I better find a way to focus my mind. These same skills are the ones used to keep a conversation focused. Here's how it translates:
- Get clear about the end in mind.
- Become aware of your intention for the conversation.
- Do your own prework.
- Set up the conversation using AEIOU.
- Follow WISHING so you follow your own focus of showing up the way you want to show up.
- Be present to the other. Use all of your senses to take in and understand the other person.
- Get curious about them.
- Express empathy so that you connect with the other.
- When your mind or the other person takes the conversation on a side road, begin to follow it if it has relevance but keep checking in to discern if it is helping you go toward the end you have in mind.
- If it is taking you away from your intention, i.e. it is getting into the weeds, into petty arguments, into right/wrong or good/bad side roads, get off the road and bring the focus back to the real topic at hand that you are hoping will get to the end in mind.
- Remember to use GIFT frequently. No need to wait to the end. When someone lets go of a side point and comes back to the main road, that is cause for a GIFT. It is helping you get to the end in mind.
As always, let us know how you're doing as you experiment.