Is there such a thing as too much focus? There was a time is my life when I would have answered this question with a “no way” but as I have grown older, my perspective has changed. Yes, there is something as ‘too much focus’ or a focus on the wrong things. Many people have a hard time focusing on their goals but there are those on the other end of the spectrum that focus too much. I am talking to the sliver of the minority that tends to be perfectionistic and over focused (myself included). Let me explain my position.
Some time ago I was watching a TV program in which a magician explained how he tricked people by guiding them to focus on the wrong things. When pointed out it was easy to see how the trick was accomplished but when you followed the instructions the magician would give either vocally or visually it was easy to be tricked. As highly evolved humans we are able to focus better than other animals; however it is also easy for us to get distracted. Simply stated, when we only focus on a few things we often miss the big picture.
Here’s a brief video that illustrates my point. Things you are not looking for often get missed.
I am sure we have all heard the old adage “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” I would say this is very true. Let me explain further. Sometime ago I was working with a particular athlete who had high expectations for themselves and was particularly disappointed with a race performance even though they placed very well. The disappointment from not meeting their expectations overshadowed any success they may have had. They focused on what they did wrong. Many around them sensed this dissatisfaction and avoided them. I know what it feels like to be disappointed with the race, but looking at the big picture, this individual was focusing on what was not accomplished and became blind to what was. Most people do triathlons to stay in shape, to learn, to push themselves, to make friends and have fun. All of these things could easily be accomplished even if our race is not outstanding.
If your focus is to win, then you are missing the big picture. The facts are simple. We are not going to win them all or always have the outcomes that we expected. We will fall; we will have ups and downs and have to pick ourselves back up again. Maybe our circumstances seem unfair or overly difficult. But there is ALWAYS something to be greatful for. For those that can compete in athletic events such as running races or triathlons let us not forget those that are confined to wheel chairs. We can run, and jump and celebrate what we can do. Let’s celebrate the small accomplishments of others, because to them they may be monuments of achievement or the beginnings of a life change. Too much focus on ourselves and our own goals can lead to defeat. The true measure of a great person is knowing when to focus and when to look at the big picture and keep everything in perspective.
Coach Lora Erickson
Coach Lora Erickson aka Blonde Runner is a USATF certified running coach and nationally ranked triathlete. She loves the opportunity to work with athletes to help them reach their true potential. To learn more about her classes and services visit www.BlondeRunner.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org