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Focus Pokus

Focus is a common word. Focus on this, focus on that, focus harder, focus smarter. If I had to pick a buzz word of the year that has been overused, that just may take the prize.

Years ago when they were elementary school age, our children took karate lessons. Anyone who has been in a karate studio can attest for the constant noise. Even though there is often a separate spectator section for parents, there is virtually zero opportunity for conversation.

“Yes SIR!” The students’ responses to the instructor are constant and intended to sound aggressive. One day in particular, a life lesson fell into my lap. People-watching can be life changing, and I was about to be changed. For good I’d hoped.

A woman walked in with two kids in tow; one a toddler, the other around seven or eight. The older boy was clumsily carrying papers, pencils and books. The toddler went on to class, while the mom and older child sat down, front row, as if ready to watch the obvious activity all around. Yet to my surprise, this kid was about to attempt the impossible.

Homework. “Focus Cody, focus!” Said the mom, with hands swinging from her eyes to his papers as if to say, “don’t listen to all this, focus on that.” Poor kid, he tried. The more the mom said “focus” the more the kids eyes jumped from sensai’s to math. He was given an impossible task but she wasn’t budging. They argued the whole time. She pushed, he tried. He left looking defeated and frustrated, as did the mom.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m a big believer in focus. No one speaks of pushing beyond your limits more than I do. However, there is a world of fanstasy and there is a world of reality. The least of that particular kid’s problems was his homework. While we are not children attempting to do homework in a karate studio, we live in a noisy whirlwind of fantasy where even reality-TV does not focus on what is real. In order for you and I to focus effectively, we must accept where we are in order to get where we want to go.

2012 offers fantastic opportunities to explore realities in your own life. Not what you hope for, but what is today. As you seek to achieve goals, take time to truly focus on life. Are you being real with the needs of yourself and others? Do you need to mend relationships? Are you working hard enough? Do you want to have conversations with someone in order to establish a targeted career plan? How about at home, is there a discussion that everyone knows needs to happen but no one knows how so it gets avoided instead? Part of success is navigating relationships so everyone is free to be their best.

Think forward? Of course. But don’t miss the opportunities right now has to offer. Dealing with today’s reality is likely a stepping stone of what you hope to accomplish in your future. Don’t be a focus pokus person who just assumes the word in and of itself brings the mind to quiet attention.

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