For the last month or so I have seen or heared the phrase “laser focus” everywhere I turn. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, the local eatery or boardroom. You can’t swing a deceased feline without being told to use your “laser focus”. Frankly the concept is nothing new. It’s been around for years. But why the resurgence? Why now, and should we be worried? Let us first take a look at what laser focus actually is.
The Urban Dictionary defines laser focus as “Intensely paying attention to a single object, concept, person, or activity to the exclusion of everything else.” Really? I thought it was some sort of high tech robot or something. Just joking Taken in context of the articles and videos I’ve seen laser focus is being used to hone in, concentrate on, your personal goals and dreams. Sounds great doesn’t it? Focus is key in accomplishing any task, any goal. But to focus on a single thing to the exclusion of any other? Will that work? Hmm, nothing could possibly go wrong now, could it?
Let me tell you a story. Once, not too many years ago, there was a woman who worked for a man who spouted the phrase “laser focus” as his own personal litany. He worked hard, focused on his professional goals and became very successful in his chosen field. However the beam of his laser focus was so small, so tight, that it blocked out everything around him. His laser focus placed everything in his peripheral vision into the shadows, made it fuzzy, and therefore unimportant. He gave his wife and children not but cursory attention, preferring to spend his time at the office instead of at a romantic dinner or a child’s soccer game. He neglected his long-time friends, often cancelling dates for dinner or an outing. He worked such long hours his health suffered, the beam of his laser so tiny it did not allow him the time or opportunity to pay attention to what his body was telling him. To make a very long story short, he lost his wife to a tennis pro who gave her the attention he withheld. After the divorce the children went with the wife. The beam of his laser focus turned on him, like one of those cheap laser pointers, causing him to chase after the red dot of a happy life. Yes, his original goals were all met. His laser focus garnered him great success in business, but it ruined his personal life in the process.
This is just one story of both the success and failure of using “laser focus”. I’ve lived through, and heard of, many more. Yet we are still using this as an axiom for the way we should live our professional and personal lives. Why? Are we missing something? If it only works on one aspect of our lives and we lose so much more in the process why do we keep doing this? Is there a way to recalibrate our laser focus so that our minds are pointed on our goal but we do not miss out on the rest of life while we do so? Yes. Yes we can.
May I suggest a two-pronged approach to this recalibration. First, try widening the beam of your laser focus. Widening the beam keeps the laser center pointed on the goal while the broadened beam allows a soft light to shine on everything around you. Let that light dispel the shadows of your original beam while keeping the ultimate goal illuminated, shining. Your goal remains ever in your sight but shares the light with those who love and need you.
Second, turn it off at regular intervals. Don’t be afraid to take a day trip, a vacation. Go enjoy a soccer game, a movie, a romantic dinner with your significant other. Have a night out with the girls, go to a football game with your buddies. Turn off the laser focus, rest your eyes, save some of that energy. Take care of your loved ones, take care of yourself. The laser can be turned on again, its light shall always be there for you and within you.
Remember, while our goals and dreams are important, our relationships, our friends and families are even more important. We can continue to use our laser focus, achieving all that we want in our lives. We should use it, but use it wisely. With a few minor tweaks, a gentle recalibration to our beams, we can have it all. Success, fame, fortune, family and love, it is all within our reach. The light just need to right.