“The opportunity is often lost in deliberating.” – Pubilius Syrus
How much do we deliberate, over- analyse and then miss an opportunity? Have modern technology and business practices led us astray by forcing us to multi-task, skim endless information or noise? Insodoing, do we in the 21st Century need to be reminded by the ancients of the power of One Thing (OT) Focus?
There is an art and science to decision-making and then execution of plans. This year I have dedicated to Minimalism. Not the classic New Age version of the idea, but something more practical. This year I have rediscovered the power of simplicity and what might be termed as One Thing (OT) Focus. This is the power of deep, uninterrupted focus on one major project or a particular problem.
The question that spawned this thinking was- “what if I could devote 100% of my focus to Project X, what then would the results be?” So many of us in business know the problem of many competing demands. We all juggle too many balls, and believe this to be ‘efficient’. Efficient maybe, but innovative, insightful, breaking new ground, going where others have not gone- no.
Exceptional results can only come from exceptional focus.
Conversely, mediocre results come from mediocre, splintered focus, splintered time, splintered resources, and a splintered mind.
Technology and modern ideas of multi-skilling have led us away from OT Focus. And what is the (opportunity) cost? More importantly, what is the cost in terms of focus? Mediocrity- perhaps best defined as many things only partially done. As we know in global markets, mediocrity will not cut it in the 21st Century. Excellence, innovation and exception are par for the course now.
My renewed OT Focus this year is already spawning results. I already have some quite interesting insights into particular financial markets that form my Project X. I already know what chess players, sportspeople, musicians, artists all know as ‘feel’ or ‘flow’. Masters in the martial arts also speak of similar things.
The formula then is quite simple: Focus + Flow = Mastery.
Mastery gives us those deep insights, those creative breakthroughs, those levels of skill, knowledge and understanding that most people in a particular area do not have. I firmly believe Mastery of any field is available to all of us- only if we first decide and then implement OT Focus.
Publilius Syrus (85–43 BC) was a Syrian slave brought to Italy during the Roman Empire. He found favour of his master and others with his wit, writings and insights, and was eventually freed. It also appears his writings influenced Caesar, particularly the Sententiae- a collection of moral and other principles.
In his message we mentioned earlier, the idea seems simple- deliberate less and opportunity will present itself, or at least not be lost. However, if we dig deeper, there are obvious questions- how much less? And if we do not deliberate at all, how can we plan adequately, consult adequately, and then action efficiently?
It seems a subtle balance is required. I believe and have experienced, this balance and it is squarely connected to OT Focus. When we focus all of our time, mental energies, and resources on solving one particular problem, or one major project, then the mind moves to a new level of engagement. The conscious and subconscious minds are harmonised. The experience of ‘waking up with the solution’ is evidence of the subconscious mind working as we rested, and often giving to us the solution or insight we needed- just at the right time? OT Focus unleashes the creative mind which resides in the ever more powerful subconscious mind. OT Focus also seems to open the door to synchronicity.
However, if our time and mind are splintered, then so are our results. The creative mind is not allowed to breathe. Quiet reflection, OT Focus are necessary, not multi-tasking, not busy-ness. These principles are apt for business owners, managers, investors, and particularly traders of the financial markets. In short, any of us engaged in detailed work. Master traders, for instance, speak of being ‘in flow’ with the markets. Needless to say, these are the 1-5% of retail or wholesale traders, who have exceptional results. Master traders all practice OT Focus. It was usually learned, and can be leaned by all of us.
In general business or work, we all have lists of actions, business plans, KPIs, software platforms and apps meant to assist us. The experience I have had is most of these do not help OT Focus. In fact, they hinder it. Most of these software aids, no matter how pretty, give us more noise. They remind us of all the things we think we ‘need’ to do. They do not aid in prioritisation and clearing the decks, so we can find our OT Focus point. OT Focus comes from digging. Digging through these lists, simplifying, eliminating, then finding only that one thing. This is the thing, which, if mastered, can change our lives, or change our business in a very significant way.
Mastery moves us towards our highest purpose and our highest vision.
As we employ OT Focus, subtle benefits emerge. That which were once hard, become easier. Each day flows as our mind is in flow. We surpass struggle. We grow, our business grows, our colleagues grow. Importantly our minds grow. This is a much better state than busy-ness, interruption, splintered focus, and knowing deep down, ‘’if only I had more time on this, I could….”
It seems the ancients, such as Publilius Syrus knew about the power of simplicity, minimalism and OT Focus. So why, how, have we forgotten? Technology’s promise was to make our lives easier, our work simpler. Yet the reverse seems to be true. Multi-tasking, multi-skilling might have been norms or ideas sold to us towards the end of last century, but the complex problems of this century will only be solved through highly focused minds and highly focused teams. If we move the very concept of OT Focus to centre stage in our minds and our organisations, and re-weight everything around it, then all things become possible. Focus, Flow and Mastery move our collective minds towards limitless creativity and capacity.
By Lee Spano, Creatness International www.creatness.com