The art of concentration in a distracted world
Regardless of what you do for a living, to do great work, you need to master the art of concentration.
By that I mean reaching that place in your efforts when your sense of self becomes submerged into the task at hand. It is that special moment that goes on forever, where time is so slow that it ceases to exist.
Everything is lost in your quest for excellence in what you are doing and it manifests itself in a shutting off of your outside and inside voices and being intensely in the moment.
There is no sense of boredom or even interest; there is only what is before you and your attempt to bring it to some finer point of completion or progress.
You could be writing a manuscript, you could be painting a canvas, or you could be putting together a financial plan for a company….the task at hand is inconsequential. What does matter is that you want to do your absolute best, to take what you produce to the ultimate level of accomplishment.
Most of you will remember some point in your recent past when true concentration was possible and your work reached a new level of expertise and your consciousness soared to new heights.
Concentration is like a gift of the universe, a special sequence of moments when nothing stands between you and what you are doing.
When was the last time you had the luxury of such a moment?
It is increasingly difficult to secure them now that we are all immersed in this world of distraction. Emails ping on their arrival, phones ring, disjointed voices speak from televisions and radios, and people weigh in with routine “likes” on every possible thought expressed on social media.
Doors open and close and people say excuse me and without waiting to be acknowledged, they leap into their pitch for special consideration on some project or another. Grown-ups read “do not disturb” signs with the same irrelevance as children read “keep off the lawn” signs.
The connectivity of our digital age is magnificent and in so many ways it makes this the most amazing time for people to do great work. It has knocked down barriers of space, time and place and brought the world of work into remote offices all over the world.
But it has simultaneously made it more difficult for all of us to reach the dimension of concentration where greatness occurs. We cannot hide in mountain cabins or carve out hours of uninterrupted time to figure things out and reach new dimensions of creativity.
So we cope in cubicles as best we can and show we are adaptable. We brag about our ability to multi-task or swear the constant interruptions don’t bother us at all.
But of course at some point they do.
We have to find ways to reclaim our space and time so we can give ourselves totally to the task at hand.
For some, it may be getting up in the early minutes of dawn to have serenity before our family comes alive. Others labor into the darkness of night as the house quiets and the world temporarily slows.
How do you manage to carve out periods of total concentration to do your best work?
As challenging as it is, you must find a way. We must all train the people around us about the importance of time away from distraction and our need to work alone and unencumbered when necessary.
If we can develop time and the habit of intense concentration, we will be amazed at the results we yield. It is then that we can fully realize what we are capable of, in art and in life, and understand true mindfulness of the moment.
Like all art forms, concentration needs to be studied and practiced until we find ways to incorporate it into our lives.
Paula Morand, CSP is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and bold impact. 23 years, 25,000 clients, 19 countries, 11 books, former radio personality, 10x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
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