This content is recommended for 30~60 minute sessions. Note that tutors may not be familiar with the content. Make sure you consult with your tutor before using this material.
After a quick greeting, read the following article out loud. Your tutor will go over pronunciation if necessary.
[P1] In today’s microwave society—where more data is created in one year than the last 5,000 years—it’s a herculean task to stay focused. Getting distracted may seem innocuous, but the consequences are disastrous over time: lost productivity, falling revenues, and a gnawing ever-present sense of missed opportunities. These overachievers and members of The Oracles share their strategies to sharpen your focus, prolong your concentration, and beat distractions once and for all.
1. Ask if it’s a ‘heck-yes’ opportunity.
[P2] Here’s the trap: The more successful you become, the more shiny opportunities offer themselves to you. These opportunities may be great, but not great for you right now. A great opportunity at the wrong time is just a distraction. Always ask yourself, “Is this a heck-yes opportunity—right now?” Otherwise, default it automatically to “no.” This question keeps you out of the “grey area” where good opportunities become stressful commitments.
[P3] If you don’t have the willpower to say “no” to shiny distractions, form an “advisory board” consisting of two to three friends who know you well, understand your goals, and have a good business mind. Run every opportunity through them for input. This tactic also makes saying “no” easier—you just blame the decision on your “advisory board.” —Chris Harder, philanthropist, coach, founder, and CEO of For the Love of Money
2. Resist ‘doing it all.’
[P4] Remove everything from your life that’s unnecessary or simply a diversion. You’ll be left with a bunch of worthwhile things to accomplish. Now, here’s where most entrepreneurs mess up: They attack everything at once. Soon, they’re overwhelmed from juggling too many things and feel guilty for not giving adequate focus to anything.
[P5] The simple cure? Have a top-priority item. Pick only one thing, the most important thing to accomplish—even if it’s difficult or daunting. Stay focused until you check it off. Then move to the next. —Kenny Rueter, co-founder of Kajabi
3. Find something to obsess about.
[P6] When you find something you love, focus comes naturally. When I started as a civil litigation lawyer, I excelled but hated it. Meanwhile, when friends of friends got into trouble with the law, they insisted I represent them—even though I had no criminal defense experience. I did a great job on each case because I was obsessed with the outcome and cared about my client’s life.
[P7] However, my partner at the time didn’t want me to pursue criminal defense, so I begrudgingly stayed in the civil field. Fortunately, I had another obsession: writing. I wrote kids’ yoga books and about my experiences with cars and racing. I simply wrote because I was obsessed with it, which compensated for my professional discontent.
[P8] Finally, when I started criminal defense full time in 2014, it became difficult to not focus on my cases. Colleagues and mentors said I cared too much about my clients and their cases. Then I came across the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, which advocates this approach. My career has been a beautiful obsession since. —Nafisé Nina Hodjat, founder and managing attorney of The SLS Firm
4. Create a five-step customized strategy.
[P9] Every entrepreneur’s methods for staying laser-focused is unique. I’ve incorporated these strategies for optimal performance.
- First, make stress your friend. Stress is not your enemy; it’s a valuable tool if you harness its force. Your mental faculties are heightened when you’re pushed against a tough problem or deadline.
- Second, develop a morning routine. Make it a habit to get up an hour earlier. Start your day with breathing exercises and meditation. Don’t allow the digital world to control the first hour of your day.
- Third, break your work into 90-minute blocks. Forget the standard 9-to-5 mentality. Learn your body’s natural ultradian rhythms, and then schedule your most important and productive work in time blocks. Take 25-minute breaks at the end of each block.
- Four, create recharging rituals for your body, emotions, and mind. A body ritual might be a brisk walk. An emotional ritual might be gratitude. A mental ritual might be turning off your phone.
- Lastly, optimize your sleep. Sleep isn’t a necessary evil or distraction from work; it’s a vital, natural way to recharge. The standard “eight hours per night” is more of a guideline; I sleep six hours per day with a siesta power nap. This biphasic sleep pattern (six hours plus 25 minutes) is my ideal sweet spot. —Nik Halik, angel investor, entrepreneur, astronaut, extreme adventurer, CEO of 5 Day Weekend
5. Create a fierce focus culture.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” — Mark Twain
[P9]In a world that follows the pack, if you want to build something special, fierce focus is not just what you do—it’s how your entire organization must think. This is the only way to avoid the trap of caving into the norm and losing the essence of your core difference. Fierce focus is only achieved across an organization when each person understands their purpose in the organization and then sets clearly defined, measurable goals to achieve that purpose.
Read the word/expression and definition out loud. Your tutor will go over anything you do not understand. Practice creating a sentence or two to make sure you know how to use the word/expression properly.
|innocuous||(adj) not likely to bother or offend anyone
e.g. He told a few innocuous jokes.
|diversion||(n) something that takes attention away from what is happening
e.g. He created a diversion while his partner stole her pocketbook.
|excel||(v) to be or do better than (others)
e.g. She excels everyone else in sports.
|advocate||(v) to support or argue for (a cause, policy, etc.)
e.g. He advocates traditional teaching methods.
|cave into||(v) To submit, concede, or yield (to someone or something); to surrender or acknowledge defeat
e.g. Under the threat of a strike, the management caved in and agreed to reinstate annual pay increases for all employees.
Use the following questions as a guideline to help develop an interesting conversation with your tutor. Feel free to diverge from these suggestions if anything interesting comes up.
- Summarize the article in your own words.
- Do you have an activity/opportunity in mind that is not a ‘heck-yes’?
- What are you obsessed about?
- Is focus something that you care about? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with your Cambly tutor!