FOCUS. The Hidden Ingredient in Excellence.

concentration-1As most behavioral psychologists will attest, every aspect of multi-tasking is terrible for us. It inhibits our individual ability to pay attention, reducing our cognitive control and ability to self-manage. And more importantly, by extension, it reduces our ability to show empathy. Put another way, it increases society’s ever-growing ‘empathy-gap.’

The most important requirement for empathy is listening. That’s why empathy is among the most important, if not THE most important character trait for those in the sales profession. You’ll never build the trust required to earn someone’s business, until you’ve demonstrated that you’ve listened to, and empathized with them.

Our attention is under siege. It’s being consumed by information. Daniel Goleman talks about the three ingredients of rapport; full mutual attention, non-verbal synchrony, and the good feeling that comes from connecting.

Think about a time when you performed beyond your wildest expectations; when you completely outdid yourself; a time when your attention was fully absorbed. Is there any better feeling in the world?

We live in a world fraught with distractions. Between our Pavlovian response to email and cellphone calls and beckoning of internet search functions to links that take us on wildly disparate courses, it’s challenging to stay focused on one task for any length of time.

When was the last time you stopped and thought about a topic of your choosing (as opposed to something urgently foisted upon you) for twenty uninterrupted minutes?

We cannot apply our talents if we’re distracted. But, how do we take back control of our time, and achieve the level of focus required to be truly productive?

Psychologists like Martin Seligman advocate Positive Psychology as a way to heighten productivity. Stimulating a positive state results in positive and productive work ‘flow.’

Obviously, step one involves unplugging; putting away the electronics tangential to the work you’re focusing on.

My colleague, Christo Schutte, President and Founder of The Game Within, advocates listening to music from a website called focusatwill.com as a way to stimulate focus.

Creating the conditions necessary to achieve ‘flow’ is essential to driving productivity.

Find out what works for you. Learn what keeps you mindful and present. And then get into the habit of doing it.

It’s the path to self-management, satisfaction and achieving heightened productivity.