Bits of Life Missed Worth Exploring

A Lesson From A Magnifying Glass


When I was young, I remember in the summer taking a magnifying glass and a piece of paper outside. Placing the piece of paper on the sidewalk, I would then position the magnifying glass between the sun and the paper. Moving the magnifying glass either closer to or further away from the paper, until the magnifying glass would focus its rays in a concentrated way causing the paper to burn. Leaving a small black circle on the paper showing the power of the sun.

I was reminded of this small experiment from my youth when thinking about focus in my life. The magnifying glass leveraged the sun’s rays by focusing them. Causing the paper to burn in a very small area. If you think about it, the sun’s rays do not burn us in the same way because they are not focused.

Focus is a theme that is present in so many variations of self-help advice we either are given or read about. The opposite of focus is dispersion. Chasing in too many directions limits the energy we can give to each.

It’s interesting how different themes of self-help advice converge on this same theme. This common theme is focus creates an intensity, that manifests itself as leverage, that then leads to better outcomes. Leverage is more impact for the effort we put into something. More output for a given input. Much like the magnifying glass working together with the sun and paper.

This advice takes many forms. Multi-tasking is bad for us. It rarely leads to good results. Doing and finishing one thing at a time will yield more positive outcomes.

When investing, you need to invest in different things to minimize your risk. But to realize incredible returns on your portfolio, you need to invest more of your money in 1-3 companies where you have an outsized belief they will continue to grow and be even more profitable. Strong conviction in something is another path that leads to focus.

Discipline is a different form of focus. It constantly reminds us of the good that comes out of what we choose to do consistently. Discipline breaks through the clutter and dispersion of our attention during the day to focus us on those few things that matter in our lives. Leveraging their impact through regular repetition.

Seeking clarity by simplifying is another path towards focus. Writing something with fewer words. Searching for an underlying pattern that can easily be explained to the next person, even though they don’t grasp the technical aspects of what you are describing.

Being present in the moment is the ultimate form of focus. Connecting with others through our vulnerability, authenticity, and lack of judgment is a much rarer form of focus. Its intensity reveals itself when experiencing it. Taking patience and practice to reveal its power.

The constant struggle in life is to come to grips with the realization that we do not have to be or do everything and then intentionally choosing what to do next.

Embracing focus is the only way we can use leverage to make our efforts yield better outcomes. Focus helps relieve the pressure of always being on the go reactively or mindlessly. Forcing us to pay more attention to where we want to go, choosing fewer things along the way, and then giving us the space to figure out how best to get there.

Bits of Life Missed Worth Exploring


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