Focus and Succeed

by Lance Ekum on · 36 comments

“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jerrycharlotte

"I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants." — Zig Ziglar


It's an interesting thing…focus is. 

At this very moment, I'm focused on writing this piece here at the Jungle of Life.  Except…except it is easy to wander, to let my mind drift elsewhere.  And when I do this – my focus shifts.  It's not that I'm no longer focusing.  Instead, it's that I'm choosing to focus on something else.

Perhaps the new snow on the ground outside.  Or what I'll have for breakfast.  Or Facebook.  Or why that car cut in front of me on the highway earlier today.  Or any number of things – things that may or may not really deserve my focus.

When I do this – when I shift my focus from what I'm doing to something else – that thing I'm working on loses importance.  More than that, even – my drifting focus keeps me rooted in what has always been.


Have you ever said (either aloud or silently) something like "I really want to ______." (where the blank space represents something you have said).  And then – that thought leaves you, perhaps to never be revisited again, or perhaps to come up days/months/years down the road – with a twinge of regret for never having acted upon it.


We can all have these great thoughts of things we want to do/try/be.  And then…it is easy to fall into the trap of doing what we've always done.

We let our thoughts drift…from one thing to the next.

And before we know it – another day/month/year has passed, and there we are doing what we have always done.

Today, I challenge you to add some clear focus to something that has meaning to you.  Maybe it's something you've dabbled in.  Maybe it's something you have really put a lot of time and effort into already (very awesome!).  Maybe it's something that has just kind of lingered around in your brain (and in your heart, especially). 

Up the focus!

And be very clear about this – it's not about "upping the focus" in everything you do (there is probably not a need to be more focused on making that daily pot of coffee, for instance).  This is specifically about taking one aspect of you and upping your focus factor in that area.

This is not about multitasking your way through life – this is much more about single-tasking.  And in that – focusing on that very thing you are doing, at that moment. 

In this case, especially, though – it is about choosing one thing of meaning to you – that you will really up the focus on this year.

Some moments when you are focusing on this will be easy.  Some will be challenging.  Through it all – know that your mind is a powerful force – and that you have the choice in what that amazing mind of yours focuses on.  As you begin down this path of delving more into something of meaning to you – in the moments that you are in that space – be fully in that space (physically and mentally).  Focus.  Focus on that one particular thing for the duration. 

Do this – and your life will unfold in amazing and meaningful ways…

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Jean Sampson January 1, 2012 at 8:54 am

Hey, Lance, Happy New Year! Thanks for all the great posts this year. They make me slow down and think, just like today’s post did. I realize that I focus the very best when I am in the near-meditative state of either writing a poem , painting or drawing the human figure. In other things, I am always thinking that I am two steps behind where I SHOULD be. And that is the word to avoid! My word for the year may seem contradictary to the concept of focus (it is “expansion”) but I mean expansion in the sense that, when I get scared or worried and start to contract my energy around that fear or worry, I want to catch myself and then remember to take a big breath and expand into who I really am. I hope that makes sense. Thanks , Lance!


Lance Ekum January 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Happy New Year Jean!!

It’s great having your support, and I really am glad that what I share in this space has meaning for you. Thank you.

Mmmm…that word “should”…it’s a bugger, isn’t it. (I know!) It’s easy to look around and think “should, should, should”. And that just leads us to following something that is probably not speaking from our hearts (like your poetry and paintings – which very much speak from that place).

So, I love that you are choosing the word “expansion” for this year – because it just speaks very deeply to the core of what matters – for you (I can tell that from what you have shared here).

May this year be filled with that wonderful expansion even more fully into who you are (and I look forward to hearing about that from you!).


Steven January 1, 2012 at 9:05 am

Excellent piece Lance. Focus is key. Our brain has limited resources, if we spread ourselves too thin then we are likely not to accomplishing anything of much value. But if you concentrate your resources on something that really matters, good things will result.
Steven´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Wrong Way to Help PeopleMy Profile


Lance Ekum January 1, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Thanks Steven.

As I look back over this past year – the things that I’ve moved forward with the most are the ones that I have just dedicated time (and focus) to. And that’s the plan for this coming year – to be even more clear with myself – so those things where I place focus will have even more meaning (and accomplishment).

Great having you here today!


Debbie Hampton January 1, 2012 at 9:25 am

Thank you for a great post encouraging single tasking. This is contradictory to the modern life style, but I know, for myself, it brings peace and a calmer feeling into life and scientific studies support that it actually increases productivity and success.

“Concentrate all your thoughts on the task at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” –Alexander Graham Bell
Debbie Hampton´s Last Fabulous Post ..Are You Torturing Yourself With Your Thoughts?My Profile


Lance Ekum January 1, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Love that Alexander Graham Bell quote – thanks for sharing it here! So true…

Single-tasking…something I have really been working on (and it’s a work in progress!). Just today – I found when I just concentrated on a project I was doing at home…I finished it..and it turned out better than expected! Single-tasking worked like a charm…

Thanks for being here, and for your wonderful support!


Naomi January 1, 2012 at 9:51 am

Brilliant advice and choice of 2012 word, Lance! Thank you; I am taking this to heart 🙂
Naomi´s Last Fabulous Post ..New Year Lanterns Lighting the SkyMy Profile


Lance Ekum January 1, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Hi Naomi!!!!
Thank YOU!!! 2012 is going to be a great year…and know that it’s a real gift having your friendship and support!


Jody - Fit at 54 January 1, 2012 at 11:58 am

Great advice Lance & I need it – I am in! 🙂
Jody – Fit at 54´s Last Fabulous Post ..RELEASE – Happy 2012My Profile


Lance Ekum January 1, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Awesome, Jody!!!


Lynn January 1, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I’m in, too, Lance – thank you for the motivation!
Lynn´s Last Fabulous Post ..Good Things Happened – January – December 2011My Profile


Lance Ekum January 1, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Hey Lynn!! Happy New Year!! It’s so great having you here – thanks for your wonderful support!


David Stevens January 1, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Hi Lance,
I Love to focus on the moment…..each moment has it’s own special relationship with me…..and I enjoy that.
On ‘task’ related things, it is important to maintain (laser) focus , 30-45 minutes on one task is about my best(before I lose focus).
However as well as focussing on each special moment, I always keep “an eye” on my bigger picture and never lose sight of it…..that’s my Big focus. Thankyou Lance, this is important.
be good to yourself
David Stevens´s Last Fabulous Post ..11 Must Do’s that you can write on the palm of your hand & will make your 2012 a hitMy Profile


Lance Ekum January 2, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Yes!! Every moment can be a special one…if we allow that…

And that’s a great point, too – that “focus” is really a couple of things – focus in the moment, and focus on the bigger things that speak from our heart. Very well said!!

Happy New Year!!


Cathy | Treatment Talk January 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Hi Lance,

Wonderful theme for January to get us off to a positive new year. Being focused is so important to see things through. Now more than at any other time, we are inundated with information and it is so easy to get sidetracked. I agree that it is important to set a time limit to each task and then take a break. It helps in the long run. Happy 2012!
Cathy | Treatment Talk´s Last Fabulous Post ..Reminder: You Are Not Alone on Your Addiction JourneyMy Profile


Lance Ekum January 2, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Hi Cathy,
As I was planning the monthly themes several months ago – that was exactly my thought – that FOCUS would be a great way to kick off the new year!

And – to your second point – just tonight, I caught myself starting to get sucked into that information overload…it’s so easy to do with so much information so easily available. And just because it is – that doesn’t mean we have to consume it all!! (love that thought!)

Happy 2012 to YOU!!


MizFit January 2, 2012 at 5:45 am

single tasking singlehandedly changed my 2011.

MizFit´s Last Fabulous Post ..My 4 step approach to becoming a morning exerciser.My Profile


Lance Ekum January 2, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Sometimes I get the single-tasking concept…and sometimes…well…I fall back onto the multi-tasking concept (and without fail…multi-tasking slows me down and leads me off track).



Nick Sotos January 2, 2012 at 7:45 am

Hello Lance! Great article, indeed! Focus is certainly the key for success and balance. People that are focused always have the desire and the passion to be successful and recognized. Your article made me think that, if there is a secret of success in achieving goals, should be just focus on them. Best wishes for 2012.
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Lance Ekum January 2, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Hey Nick!
That’s it!! By focusing on our goals…and then getting out there and DO-ing them – we will succeed (even if things don’t always go as planned).

Happy New Year!!


Galen Pearl January 2, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Focus. That should have been my word for the year. The new year is not even 48 hours old and I’ve already been so scattered. I’m going to take this to heart! Happy New Year!
Galen Pearl´s Last Fabulous Post ..Word of the Year 2012My Profile


Lance Ekum January 2, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Hi Galen,
Ha!!! And you know what – I can relate! This one is going to take some work for me!!

It’s great having you here..and here’s to a great year ahead!!


Be January 3, 2012 at 7:29 am

A great post to read as I start back into my working year. Thanks Lance 🙂
Be´s Last Fabulous Post ..What are your intentions for 2012?My Profile


Lance Ekum January 5, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Thanks!!! And…happy 2012 to you!!


The Vizier January 3, 2012 at 8:30 am

Hi Lance,

A very Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!!

Great thoughts on focus!

I have always been a huge history buff and from military history I learned that focus is vital to winning battles. Napoleon certainly knew this principle well since he always liked to overwhelm his enemies by focusing his troops on a weak point in their line.

It is the same with daily life. It is easy to allow ourselves to get distracted, but when we do, we are not giving a task 100%. How can we hope to do it well? We might even end up having to do the same job twice or thrice which is highly inefficient.

Focus is the way to go. One way I try to improve my focus is to remove everything else that distracts me. I also remind myself of my compelling reason to get that task done. With this two-prong approach, I am more likely to focus and stay productive.

Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

Irving the Vizier
The Vizier´s Last Fabulous Post ..Resolutions of the Vizier for 2012My Profile


Lance Ekum January 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Thanks for the wonderful new year wishes…and same to you!

That’s a great thing – removing those things that are distracting. When they are not there, we become less tempted to stray from our planned focus.

And – I really like your comparison of the military, and how important focus is in that environment. That is really such a great point – focus makes all the difference in success or failure (and such in daily life, too…).

Thanks for visiting!


Megan Bord January 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Oh Lance, when I first saw this in my email inbox, with the word “Focus” highlighted, I cringed. I could feel myself resisting not only that word, but your entire post.

Why? Because for the past few months I’ve been very UNfocused. I’ve let myself slip into a comfortable coma of a “whatever, whenever” mentality. And while I can see how it served me at the time to be like that, with the new year must come a new attitude! And, of course, some focus.

Here is where I thank you: since your words entered my life a few days ago, everything’s changed. I’ve become more focused, and guess what? I’m accomplishing a lot and feeling really good about myself. The “f” word, which previously stopped me (revoltingly so) in my tracks, now has me singing its praises each new day. Heck, it has me singing YOUR praises, too! (Not that that’s anything new; I’m rather fond of you and the Jungle, as you know!)

The way I’ve put it into practice is to list four or five things each day I want to get done. Seems so simple, and actually many years ago, my entire life was dictated by “to do” lists. I had them for everything! But in giving that up, I sort of swayed too far in the opposite direction to the point that I wasn’t getting much of anything done in a day.

So now I’m striking a happy compromise once again and recognizing that a little focus goes a long way.

Here’s to the “f” word!

Much love & warmth during winter’s snow to you,


Lance Ekum January 5, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Okay – I’m laughing…at the “f” word!! (you are tooo funny!!)

Mmmm…a little focus can sure go a long way, can’t it. And – I’ve kind of stepped away from “to do” lists, too. Although – when there’s something I really want to make sure happens…guess what? I write it down. So – having a nice middle ground – I think that’s a great place – not too structured by constant “to do’s” and still some added focus by highlighting key things that really are important.

And – what’s great about this (I think): there can easily be stuff we believe to be important…and then it gets pushed aside because it’s not urgent (reminds me of a Stephen Covey book…) in favor of the urgent (but not really important).

So – I’m going to really pay attention to what I’m writing down – and where that holds meaning for me.

Love and snowballs,
P.S. I’m rather fond of you, also…


Jen January 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Hi Lance!
As I read this, I am supposed to be focusing on other things:) HA.
But you know what? I was worth taking the break to read, because I was getting loopy and frustrated with the word I was TRYING to focus on.

So, despite my New Years intention to single-focus, I have found myself pondering more of your great wisdom, and will now be ready to REFOCUS my attention to the task at hand!
Yes, we all need this! Thank you for your clear intention and encouragement that helps us all be better!
Love, and Happy Happy 2012!
In Harmony,
Jen´s Last Fabulous Post ..Trash Talk Thursday: Reaction FormationMy Profile


Lance Ekum January 5, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Hi Jen!!!
Ha!!!! (okay…so…does that make me a distraction?!?!?!?!?)

And – that’s it – we all can use this…FOCUS (or…REFOCUS!). I know that I can – and find myself (daily) letting that focus slip a bit. The thing is, though – for me – just having this thought of FOCUS front and center – it helps to bring me back.

Right now…I’m thinking it’s time to focus on sleep!!!

Have a GREAT night, dear friend…

Love and warmth,


Jason February 16, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Lance, do you ever find that your focus becomes all too consuming and prevents you from stepping back and seeing the big picture of how your goal fits into the rest of your life? I competely agree with your article here. My dilemma is becoming to short-sited on the focus at hand and not planning for the overall long-term goal. Hope that translates well and you understand what I’m trying to say.

Jason´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Root Causes of Social Anxiety


Lance Ekum February 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm

This is a good point you bring up. Looking at the big picture is a key, as well. And that can be effective when you step back – to see more of the whole.

Definitely – take some time to look big picture. And then, with focus and dedication – you can make real progress. And then take moments along the way to repeat the process – just to make sure the “big picture” hasn’t changed for you – and that you’re on the course you want to be.

Best to you in all the things that you have going on!


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