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Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Focus, Luck and the Zone.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | March 16, 2019

No. 1,627

Image: business horsepower.com

Everywhere we turn, we are being advised to focus.  I read recently that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were asked the secret of becoming a billionaire at a party. Without hesitation,  both instantly and simultaneously replied, “focus.”

Wonderful.  But have you recently tried to focus your total mind on something for more than a few minutes?  Its not easy. No, its very hard.

The human mind is constantly making connections and pulling up memories. It does this automatically, without trying. Your mind wanders even when you are consciously trying to stay on topic.

Try driving your car and focusing on the road ahead.  Before long, maybe only a few seconds later, you discover to your dismay that you are no longer thinking exclusively about the task of driving.  Very frustrating. You try to focus and constantly fail. You try again and fail within minutes. Can it even be done?

Think back to when you first learned to drive.  You were paying strict attention then because you were learning a new skill and were constantly aware of the ever-present danger.  Every move you made had to be performed with deliberation. If you stopped thinking about what to do, you could drive right into the back of the car ahead.  Or, if you suddenly slammed on the brake too hard, the car behind you might drive into you. What riveted your attention so well?  Fear.

But after all those years of driving, you no longer fear the road.  The danger is still there.  Every time you get behind the wheel you risk life and limb. The odds of killing yourself have hopefully greatly decreased, but they are not completely erased. If you drive enough miles, even with great care, some day the probabilities will eventually catch up with you. That moment  could come today, next week or years from now.  Hopefully, we will all stop driving before it inevitably happens. Think about that every time you turn the key and you are sure to become a more mindful driver.

You will look for children darting out between the parked cars. You will observe other drivers wandering into your lane.  Your mind will still automatically wander, but less. And you will catch yourself daydreaming and pull your consciousness back to the here and now.

Some people approach their whole life like that careful driver.  They are constantly looking for potholes to avoid. They try to anticipate problems before they become emergencies. They are mindful of risks.  They might even be a little afraid.

But life involves more than risks and dangers. Remember, there are also opportunities. Recognizing and acting upon them also requires us to pay attention.  The luckiest people are constantly aware of changes in their environment. If you are busy bemoaning your bad luck, you may miss the good luck that is following right behind.

Therefore, if you want to focus, constantly ask yourself questions about the topic at hand.  Take notes and review them.  Send emails. Talk about the subject with others.  Write about it in a formal, coherent and meaningful way. Edit and improve what you have written.

Several hours later, you may discover that you have been “in the zone.” Its a great feeling!



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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