Can you be too Focused?

Can you be too Focused?

I heard this story recently and it reminded me of a personal experience that I had that scared the crap out of me. Let me first tell you the story that brought back this bad memory. I will share my personal story in a later article. If you would like to hear about my personal story now, you can listen to my podcast titled Focused. Search for Raasch Thoughts on iTunes or iHeartRadio.

I was having a conversation with a friend about awareness and focus. I was making the point that focus can be a good thing and a bad thing. Think about that for a second. Imagine how focus can be both good and bad.

Imagine you are a professional golfer and have a 4 foot putt that you need to make. Now let’s add some pressure to that moment. It is the 4th round of the Masters golf tournament and sinking this putt guarantees your win. There are millions of people watching you on TV and thousands of people holding their breath as you line this putt up. You mentally focus everything you have on this moment. Blocking out all the distractions, all the noise, all the pressure. To you it feels like you are back in high school playing a round a golf with your buddies. Focused, but having fun.

You step back take one more look at the putt. Confirm your read with your caddie. He offers words of encouragement, letting you know that you’ve got this. Just breath, relax and focus. You step up to the putt and with purpose, focus and poise you sink it. Winning your first professional golf tournament. That putt made you and extra $300,000. Talk about focus.

That is a good example and one that many of us would love a chance at experiencing. Unfortunately many of us will never have that kind of monumental experience in our life-time.

So my friend shares with me the following story with a different twist to it. She told me about a research exercise that involved students in a seminary. These are young men that have made a commitment to serving God and helping others to strengthen their faith so that we make a better world for everyone.

Here is the scenario that was put in front of them. Each of them had a major presentation to give that had an impact on the studies. This was a very important presentation and it meant a great deal to their faith journey to become a priest. The first group of students were told that they need to complete some final preparations at a different building across campus. As they were finishing their prep work, they were notified that they had to hurry up and get to the presentation location quickly. They might be late so they must hurry.

They quickly ran across campus to their destination. They were focused on their presentation and also focused on not being late. They arrived on time and gave a great presentation.

The next group was given the same instructions with one small difference. They were told that they had plenty of time to get to the presentation location. They suggested they leave early so they had plenty of time to reflect on what was about to happen. As that group crossed campus they noticed a person in medical distress. They stopped to help that individual, made sure they got the help they needed and then continued on towards their presentation.

So what was the difference? The first group of students that went to present were rushed and focused on their presentation and missed the person in distress. They made the commitment to help their fellow man, but in this moment with the pressure and the focus, they failed to maintain awareness of their surroundings. Sometimes we get so focused that we fail to maintain awareness.

In that moment of extreme focus we need to step back and look around. What are we missing? What could we be doing different, what opportunity is staring us in the face, but our focus is not allowing us to see it. We put blinders on horses to keep them focused in a forward direction. Do you want to live and work in such a one directionally focused manner? What are you missing?

It is time to balance your focus with your awareness and make big changes in the world we live in.

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Dean Raasch is a business consultant and inspirational speaker. You can reach him at Follow his podcast Raasch Thoughts on iTunes or iHeartRadio.