Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Thought for the Day - How To Make Those Momentous 'Decisions' Work Each Time

My friend Suresh and I were discussing the issue of how certain things get 'done' and why certain things do not. There is a rare energy to those 'decisions' we make about certain things - stuff we commit to, with all that we have. Those are the things we achieve against all odds, our champion stuff. Those are our big Wow moments, performances. We also 'know' deep down that we would achieve those.
Intense Concentration of Thoughts
It's Already Done In the Mind's Eye
In those 'decisions' it's as if what we set out to achieve, however hard it may appear and however impossible, is already 'done' in the mind's eye. Whether it is climbing Mount Everest or scoring a huge hundred and winning the game or cracking a beautiful problem for the world, its already 'done'. After that decision, follows the process of clarity of goal, planning, implementation, monitoring, correction and achievement - the process seems intuitive. It's as if we have already seen the end result in our mind - and are walking back to check for any likely obstacles and removing them before we start the journey. We do not fail at those. No champion fails at those.

The question is, can we do that whenever we want?

We would like business to grow, people to fall in love with, fame, money in the bank...but somehow things are not happening. Then we wonder - how did that other thing happen the first time and how did this not happen? Why?

The First Time - Fuelled By Emotion
The stuff we want to achieve badly is stuff that somehow defines us. So we will step in and do it. The first time.

But can I repeat the same feat again tomorrow? In most cases we don't have the energy to repeat that great feat. Which is why the world stood up when Virat Kohli did it again and again and again and again in the IPL against the toughest of circumstances where even one error spelt an end to their campaign. How did Kohli achieve that? How did Sachin do it in the Desert Storm? Can we also achieve like that, if we want to, at will? A second time? A third?

Desire Burns Out - We Need a Process To Repeat That Performance a 2nd, 3rd time
Let's take desire out of the equation - simply because desire burns out at some point - we find we do not have focused energy. Until then, desire holds our energies together. But in a situation that's not life and death, when we already have achieved one big performance or two, what is it that we need to keep our performances at such high levels to achieve whatever we want?

More efficiently.

To do anything more efficiently, we need to practice it until it becomes second nature. Until it becomes our nature. Like Suresh says,, we slip into it and enjoy it.

The Key Ingredient - Concentrated Focus
The answer as I see it, is a practice of concentrated focus of our energies or our attentions. When we achieved it the first time, it was this intense focus that helped. An uncluttered focus. What we need to have, when we wish to repeat the same champion act, is the same focus that we took to that first act. That's the key ingredient.

Loss of Focus - Distractions
When we wish to repeat the act next time, we could distract ourselves in many ways. Doubt, fear, uncertainty, lowering of standards, taking the easy route out are all ways. We take our foot off the pedal. Whatever it is, to achieve something of that magnitude, we need 100% focus.

Measuring Where Our Focus Lies
A simple measure for to see where our focus lies is this - where are my thoughts directed right now? If over 80% - 100% are directed towards your goal, chances are high that you will achieve it - again. Simply because your mind is building momentum. But if your thoughts have slipped down to 40% or less and you are thinking of whether it will happen or not, why you are not focusing, of other things like facebook, blogs, phones etc you have lost focus, the plot. You are not bringing enough focus, enough concentration to the job.

There is simply not enough energy behind your goal so it will never take off.

The Process 
  • Be clear on what you want to achieve. It must be a clear goal that is measurable. 
  • Observe your thoughts. Put all your thoughts on how to achieve that goal. So much so that it should occupy 100% of your thoughts. You sleep, its the last thought, you wake up, its the first thought. It must consume you.
  • To get that kind of a focus you need to eliminate all thoughts and influences that are not aligned to your goal or purpose.  
  • Practice the awareness of knowing where your thoughts are. Then try and improve from 10 to 20 to 30 to 50 to 80%.
For starters it gives clarity. Then comes a rare energy from eliminating other dissipating thoughts. Keep your thoughts high in that 80%-100% state and you will find ways to achieve that goal. You will create a thing of beauty.

Virat Kohli - My Take
Virat Kohli does that I would think. He challenges himself moment to moment. He has trained himself to challenge every moment, and enjoy winning each fight, every moment. Those little moments are where he takes his 100% focus to, and that's why he is frighteningly intense. A catch, a stop, a wicket, a boundary...they are all little victories for him. He has practiced that level of concentration and its now second nature to him. For most others that kind of intense concentration comes only in rare moments - mainly because the focus gets diluted by other thoughts. Because it is tiring and hard work and discipline.

It's Not Hard, It's Actually Easy In the Longer Run If You Discipline Yourself
Though it may seem hard, it actually is easy in the long run. (Like running long distance may seem tough on day one but with practice, it becomes easy.) Mainly because you have built up emotional and mental muscle through discipline.

Let's say today my thoughts are 10% on my main goal and 10% on facebook, 10% on checking useless content, 10% on watching TV, 10% on hanging out with friends that dont align with my goal etc. Obviously no one act is receiving enough momentum to go anywhere. But instead if I start accumulating all my thoughts and directing them towards the one key goal, I will start finding ways to crack it. My thoughts around it go from 10% to 20% and then 30, 40, 50, 60. Obviously there will be a change in what's happening outside if we bring in that kind of focus. We are building up high energy in this activity and therefore we will attract similar high energies. Our mind does not strain after a while because we are used to that.

After Discipline. It Becomes Second Nature
In time, after the initial struggle of maintaining discipline, it becomes second nature. Now you start missing it, if you don't do it. From this discipline will emerge great work borne out of intense concentration. In time, you will become that act subconsciously.

Transition from the Chance One Performance to Consistent Performances NOW
Eliminate all other thoughts. Keep that one goal in mind. Draw all thoughts towards achieving it. Put all focus and energy behind it. I believe, nothing in the world can stop that force. The one thing that can stop it is us - and our interfering thoughts. As practice, start concentrating on the one thing that will make people go Wow and give it focus. Be aware of where your thoughts are. Focus, Refocus, Discipline. You got it.

What's that one thing you want to give your focus to right now?

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