For the past two weeks we have been talking about the power that accompanies the Habit of Focus and late last week I received a call from a lady named Adrian who wanted to tell me of the important roles this powerful habit has played in her life.
She told me that ever since she was a little girl she has employed a “trick” that her mother challenged her to use each time she was faced with a difficult decision or a problem.
The trick, she explained, is to find a quiet “thinking” spot, get comfortable, focus on the problem and keep focusing until she had come up with a list of 50 possible or potential solutions.
She told me that sometimes this process has occupied hours of her time and yet she has disciplined herself to stay focused on the problem until the 50th possible solution has been written down.
On more than one occasion she has felt quite confident that she had found the right solution early on in the process and yet had persevered until reaching the magic number 50 only to find that the 50th solution was the best one.
This all sounded a little bit too simplistic until Adrian supplied me with two dynamic examples of how her use of the Habit of Focus had changed the direction of her life.
In 1987 she had opened a high-end ladies clothing store which she had grown into a small chain with seven locations. Sales began slowing down early in 2006 and by the fall of 2007 her business, her pride and joy, was teetering on collapse with her creditors circling like “bloodthirsty vultures battling each other to get first peck of the corpse.”
Her family and friends were literally begging her to place her company into bankruptcy and to walk away.
She told me that this was a very tempting idea but she wasn’t quite ready to give up 20 years of hard work.
So she went to her favorite thinking spot – a bench in a close-by park and, like so many times before, resolved to focus on this problem until she was able to come up with a list of 50 possible solutions.
This was a tough one. She told me that she sat on the bench for over seven hours, focusing only on one thing, completely oblivious to the people and sounds surrounding her.
Finally after seven hours she stood up and ran home as fast as she could, excited at the prospect of putting newly acquired ideas into place and thereby engineering an “impossible” turn-around of her company.
Today, some six years later, she has 12 locations and they are all booming. She attributes her success to her ongoing use of the Habit of Focus.
Nine months later, while in the midst of her turnaround, a persistent cough led her to her doctor and a chest x-ray then later to an oncologist who informed her she had lung cancer.
A lifelong non-smoker she was devastated by the diagnosis but, “after a few days of self-pity and anger” she decided that this was no different than other problems she had faced and that she needed to seek a solution.
Back she went to her favorite thinking space. The solutions she came up with inspired her to dive deeply into researching her disease and seek the best treatments available. Once the research was completed, she informed her family doctor of the type of treatment she wanted and he helped her find a provider.
She has just celebrated her fifth anniversary of being cancer free. Naturally, she has no way of knowing what the outcome from other treatments might have been, but she is certain that her Habit of Focus directed her to the one that was best for her.
Adrian told me that she is convinced that the solutions to all of our problems and challenges lie within us all and that we seldom find them because we do not take the time to focus.
Having heard how instrumental the Habit of Focus has been in Adrian’s life, I cannot help but believe that if we all took the time to find a favorite thinking space, stayed there until we had 50 solutions to each of our problems, and then implemented the best ones, we would all live lives as joyful and fulfilled as Adrian’s.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.