Focus: Getting Better At it

A couple of weeks ago, I encountered a diverse group of 30 professionals from the American Association of Singapore and the Connexions networking group. They had signed up for the Everest Challenge programme. We designed a shortened activity list to fit the time we had with them; focusing on personal growth areas. It can be challenging doing these sort of programmes because groups like these do not share a common organisational goal and come with different expectations. And there always seems as though there is not enough time to talk about the experience afterwards! A few interesting learning points emerged which I thought I’d share.

One of the climactic activities was the Leap of Faith, where I sometimes weave a story about needing to exit a mountain top by leaping for the the skid of a hovering helicopter, Hollywood style. Protected with a full body harness and a rope above, you’ll have to climb a 9-metre pole that is just 11 inches across at the top. Once balanced on the top, you jump full length across a void to grab a suspended trapeze bar. Initial reactions were in the area of ” No Way!” ,” Impossible! ” and so on.

And yet, every single member of my first group succeeded; including a 66 year old gentleman.

Comments afterwards included:

” The debrief after each session was particularly helpful, and provided an
opportunity to apply the experience to real-life scenarios. The “Leap of
Faith” was great – reminded me that getting to the top isn’t easy,
especially when your next step is taking a giant leap! ”

”David’s advice to focus on the bar was most helpful, as was seeing the
others before me succeed, especially those who were also scared and who were
also of my physical size. ….. I used this tactic and David’s
advice to help me with my ‘just go for it’ attitude. The rush that I felt
having completed the task stays with me to today.”

There’s a tip to help you do this challenge. If you focus 100% on the bar in front of you, the background, the 30 foot drop beneath and so on becomes blurred; similar to looking through a manual focusing camera lens that’s focused on an object that’s fairly near. When you achieve this state of focuse, irrational fears like “the harness wont hold me!”, begin to dissipate.

Kim Gordon, a US expert on entrepreneurship, has often written about how business success is derived from maintaining focus on core businesses and aspects within that business. Just who are your customers? Are you fragmenting your target group? Just who are you? Is your business name too generic? Is your positioning statement sufficient to state what you are and what benefits you can offer a client?

In our lives, we have so many competing demands that it is easy to be distracted from our key focus areas. We over analyse, create fearful scenarios ( some unjustified ) and all this aids a state of semi-paralysis.

In March, on the high volcanoes in Mexico, I did have my own moments of doubt. On the climb of Orizaba, I had to constantly push aside dark thoughts of bad wind conditions and my own physical abilities. As the dawn cleared into a brilliant, if incredibly windy day, I focused on living for the moment and trusting my strength, experience and know-how to get to the summit and back. It was an intense feeling.

One participant described what she took home from the Everest Challenge on June 21st:

”What keeps coming back to my mind is the extreme “focus” I found in myself which allowed me to overcome and shut out everything else (i.e., fear, over analysing, thinking too much), it was the “focus” that allowed me to succeed….. what I can take away from this Everest Challenge, is to perhaps break goals/task/challenges up into steps and focus on each step until it is complete before moving on to the next step, each time focusing only on what needs to be done, such focus can lead to success in any task. Think of how you can do something rather than thinking on how you cannot…”