Focus - Hidden Drive of Excellence - Part 1

When we speak of focus we often use the phrases like 'paying attention' or 'minimizing distractions' or 'efficient use of time'. But the word "Mastery" is not often used in the context of Focus.  In the book Focus by Dan Goleman he peals back the layers and shines a great deal of light on FOCUS.

In the context of Focus there is 'In the Zone' or 'Flow' that comes up but how about Mastery? Mastery is achieved when Focused Practice or Smart Practice replaces routine or repetitive practice. Repetitive practice or drills in sports are not as effective as we were lead to believe. Tony Robbins says "Repetition is the mother of skill". This is true but with repetition you become proficient at the task as the task becomes more unconscious or automatic. This means you can pick up poor skills as well as good skills while practicing in a repetitive or drill manner. 

Smart Practice is different, it includes a feedback loop. This loop helps your recognize errors and correct them. This is why dancers use mirrors. Ideally the feedback comes from someone with an expert eye - a world class coach who will keep pushing you past the proficient to Mastery and ultimately to the top ranking person. 

Amateurs are content with their efforts becoming "good-enough" so that their performance allows them to go through the motions more or less effortlessly or automatically. 

Experts keep paying attention consciously, intentionally counteracting the brains desire to automize the routines. They concentrate actively on the moves they have yet to perfect, on correcting whats not working and refining their mental models by focusing or the feedback  from their coach.  Experts never stop learning. If at any point they start to 'coast' and stop Smart Practice too much of their skill game becomes unconscious and their skills Plateau. 

See you next time with Part 2