Cyclical power of focus and distraction

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on

I want to investigate, at least from its face value, success. No, this is not about steps on how to be successful because there are really no steps. Success is not linear and the thought that success is linear is something I want to change. As humans, with conscious and subconscious mind, with wants and suppressed wants living in an age full of things to do, success will be impossible to achieve in a linear fashion. Seeing success from a linear perspective makes failure frustrating.

Many people attribute success to will power. Gandhi notes, “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” I agree, but it is not easy to find where that strength comes from.

What drives people to succeed? A little investigation points me that strength comes from motivation. At some point people will be motivated by something, it may be money, fear, love, and passion. It does not matter what motivates people because people are different have different sources of motivation. The point is, one is motivated at one point and that is a source of strength. Is motivation that brings about strength to fuel the will enough?

What is will? The dictionary defines will as the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action. In other words, it is the ability to decide and bring action. Yes, but again, I think will is not enough. One may get started, even start achieving but then get distracted and stop. For Simone Weil, a 20th century philosopher thinks that “will only controls a few movements of a few muscles, and these movements are associated with the idea of the change of position of nearby objects.”

There are other things beside decision-making and taking action, though the 2 are important in starting, since in most cases, many people can’t even decide and start. Once one has made a decision and has started, the next key ingredient is focus and attention.

Beyond will, there is a need to look as focus and attention as the factor that will move one to its destination after moving a mile from the start. Focus and attention allows people to zero in on the goals or objectives. Yes, there will be distractions. In fact, one must be open to distractions from time to time to allow themselves rest and reset, and allow focus and attention to bring one back to their tasks. I remember reading an article on Oliver Sacks, the famous Doctor and Writer. In that article he said that it is normal as a writer to stop, then write again continuously.

Ultimately, success, beyond motivation and will, is a cycle between focus and distraction. Distraction allows a breather and focus to bring in fresh ideas for creativity.


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