The word FOCUS is both a noun and a verb.  According to Merriam-Webster, the noun focus is defined as “a center of activity, attraction, or attention.”  The verb focus is defined as “to concentrate attention or effort.”

This distinction between noun and verb is important to recognize as we talk about one of the 8 Thumos Fs, FOCUS, in our daily lives.  For instance, your ability to concentrate on something is slightly different than what is currently the center of your attention.

Let’s talk about the verb first; our ability to focus or concentrate.  I find in today’s world, it is becoming extremely challenging to create space for myself to focus on one thing for any reasonable length of time.  I don’t think I’m the only one having this challenge.  In fact, Jim Kwik, the author of a book titled “Limitless” identifies four of the common barriers we all face that undermine our ability to focus in today’s world.  The four themes outlined by Jim Kwik are: Digital Deluge, Digital Distraction, Digital Dementia, and Digital Deduction.

Digital Deluge – This represents the massive amount of information we consume.  Kwik states, “we now consume as much data in a single day as an average person from the 1400s would have absorbed in an entire lifetime.”  With all of this information coming at us every day, it’s essential that we find a way to optimize when, how, and what information we feed ourselves.  

Digital Distraction – This represents the delusion that we can be good at multi-tasking.  Kwik states, “because of our always-on, ever-connected devices, we’re struggling to find connection when we’re with friends and family, and we’re struggling to stay focused at work.”  I’m not quite sure when the term “multi-tasking” became popular, but we’ve definitely grown to accept this façade to be achievable.  There is absolutely no way our brains can focus on any more than one thing at a time.  What we think is multi-tasking is simply brain jumping from one activity to another.  Depending on the frequency between activities, we could potentially prevent the full benefits of focusing on a single activity.  Neuroscientist, Daniel J. Levitin, explains, “Asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes the prefrontal cortex and striatum to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel they need to stay on task.”

Digital Dementia – This represents the potential snowball effect of avoiding exercising our brains through critical thinking and focus.  Kwik states, “too often, we outsource our brains to our smart devices, and our smart devices are making us, well, a little bit stupid.  Our brains are the ultimate adaptation machines, capable of seemingly endless levels of evolution.  And yet we often forget to give it the exercise it needs.”  When I was a kid, I could rattle off phone numbers of all of my friends and family without a pause.  I didn’t have their numbers saved on anything but my brain.  In fact, I can more easily rattle off my friends phone number from 3rd grade than I can my own kid’s cell phone number now.  It’s amazing how those memorization brain muscles have atrophied over time from non-use.  This is a huge reminder for me to continue to be open to learning new things and pushing myself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, because that is where growth occurs.

Digital Deduction – This represents our inability to trust ourselves and our brains in the midst of group think.  I use the term “group think” because that is my perspective of our ability to always being digitally connected to our world.  Kwik states, “…critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity that is an essential skill for being limitless – is becoming automated.”  I can’t think of a better reason to begin flexing our FOCUS muscles than this challenge right here.  I’m convinced that this is why we’re here on Earth.  Each and every one of us have God given talent and independence to change the world like no other human on Earth!  I can’t imagine anyone, ever agreeing to attempt to automate our uniqueness.

How are you at focusing?  Thumos is all about becoming the best version of yourself by optimizing the 8 Fs, fueled by The Integrated version of you.  If you are like me, these challenges (listed above) rear their ugly, despicable head every day, every hour, every minute…and they will only get worse.  Here is the beauty, you and I have God on our side and within us.  As a result, there is nothing too difficult or challenging to overcome.  You and I can improve and it will take work…hard work!  It’s January, so let’s pick a challenge or two from the list and take action to spark the change to help you and I strengthen our ability to focus.