The Power of Concentration

Wed, 2012-12-26 09:26 -- tomjonez


Several years ago I wrote an article for a CEO publication on the power of focused effort, emphasizing the difference between a laser beam and a 100-watt incandescent light bulb.  The illustration capitalized on the example of concentrated light, as contrasted with light that is entirely diffused:  whereas the laser is a beam of refracted light that is highly focused (concentrated), the other is an omnidirectional incandescent bulb that is designed to "not miss anything" in its limited effective range.

Articulating the basic difference between the two based on the laws of physics, the article then shifted to a discussion of the leadership secret that flows from the power of concentrated effort.

I once learned something similar about the power of concentration from a friend named Tom at a conference on the East Coast (which I wrote about last year at this time). In my brief initial discussion with Tom, I learned that each year he selected one thing he wanted to learn - and made that one thing his primary intellectual pursuit for the year.  Each year, for several decades, he had systematically focused on "one thing," and as a result had accumulated quite a list of practical skills - skills he had actually mastered through concentration of effort over each of the years (one thing at a time).

Ever since that brief discussion I have sought to select, and then learn, one new thing each year.

Just one.

Tom's strategy is focused on the power of concentrated effort.  Like a laser beam.  Because a laser beam can be bounced off of the moon and back to earth - and it remains useful enough to measure the distance there and back.  By contrast, a highly diffused 100-watt light bulb, even only a few miles away,  is functionally invisible - and at that distance is completely useless.

Concentration works.  Especially one-year-at-a-time concentration.

Over the years the list of new things tried and learned can add up. Years later, the eclectic diversity of skills cultivated can actually become, well, altogether humorous (one of my close friends laughs at the variety of "one things" that have stacked up on my learning shelf over the years).

But each year has been a new learning adventure.  A concentrated adventure. Tom's advice to me years ago has proven singularly valuable.

What if each of us each set one new goal for 2013 ?

Make it simple, doable, delightful, compelling.  Focused. Concentrated effort. Write it down.  And then do it.  This is a practical way that each of us can advance the ball in our lives or careers.

Not on lots of things.  Just one thing.

Let me know what one thing you select. It would be fun to compare notes. And to focus our efforts on results, together.