Why is it so important to focus?

There’s a Russian proverb which says ‘if you chase two rabbits, you’ll catch neither’. I’ve never tried to catch a rabbit but I have tried to catch our hens and I can testify to the truth of that proverb: I have to focus all my efforts on one of them if I am to have any chance of catching her. One of my coaching clients and I were talking about focus recently and came to the conclusion that when we dilute our efforts, we dilute our ability to succeed.

Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor, said this:

‘Concentrate all of your thoughts upon the work at hand. 

The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.’

I wanted to give you a very visual demonstration of Bell’s words so last weekend, I headed out to the garden with a magnifying glass and a newspaper. (If for some reason there is a child reading this blog who thinks this sounds like an exciting idea, please go and find an adult before copying this experiment!)

Firstly, I just left the newspaper out in the sunshine for a while. The sunlight beat down upon the paper but unsurprisingly, nothing happened:

newspaper before

I can assure you that I didn’t select that newspaper for its apposite headline – it really was the first one that came to hand from the recycling pile.

Then I took the magnifying glass and focused the sun’s rays to a small point on the newspaper. Seconds later, the paper began to smoulder.

newspaper after

If I had continue to concentrate the focused rays of the sun on the broadsheet, it would quickly have been destroyed.

newpaper final

As Bell said, the sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.

The experiment is a vivid visual reminder of the importance of focus. Many of us have several goals but recognise that to achieve the best results, we need to concentrate on one at a time – I can’t catch two chickens at once but I can pursue one with all my energy.

Today’s pebble for you to ponder:

Which of your goals needs your concentrated and focused attention this week?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to take action and create positive change in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?


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2 Responses to Why is it so important to focus?

  1. Pingback: Got issues? | Turning over pebbles

  2. Pingback: Trimming your sails – time for a half year review | Turning over pebbles

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