I’ve spent many, many hours considering focus. It’s a concept that’s incredibly abstract and yet universally tangible. We can focus on focus itself and enter recursive infinity or we can focus on our senses and forget what focusing means in the first place. Regardless of where our focus is, it’s always happening.

Focus is a basic part of being conscious. We have an overwhelming number of inputs from our senses. Focus is what lets us be more than just a cacophonous reaction to them- it lets us choose the ones we want to interpret. For just one moment try letting yourself address them all and realize how overwhelming they really are:

Hear everything coming into your ears right now from voices to the sound of typing to cars in the street. Feel everything you feel from the clothes on your arms to your chair under you to the air coming in through your nose to the tension in your muscles. Taste your mouth and smell your coffee. Take some time to count the number of objects you can see. (I’ll give you twenty bucks if you can’t pick out at least 1,000- a crack in the wall, a floral pattern, a backpack, a zipper…)

I could go on, as many people have, but the truth is everyone can pretty easily see for themselves how much there is to our reality. Our focus is how we narrow it and intertwine ourselves with the part of it we most relate with. When we focus on an aspect of life, we both highlight it in our current environment and make choices that makes it more prominent in our future. When we’re aware of this focus, then we can really take control of the direction of our lives.

This wasn’t just an arbitrary musing for me today; we find ourselves at 7cees in need of a bit more focus in our day-to-day activity. It’s tough for us, because what we’re really trying to focus on is a process not a goal, so it’s easy to get distracted and think anything we do is part of our growth/evolution. It is, sure. Bu to become more relevant to other people we also need to have a consistent way for them to interact with us.

We’ve got a couple things up our sleeves to help us focus. One I’m most excited about is writing an open business plan. Starting this week we’ll be doing Tuesday + Thursday 8 PM EST business-plan brainstorms open to our community over a live-stream video and audio. Hopefully a more structured plan will help us keep our focus on what’s important to us: our 7 cees mission.

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3 Responses to “Focus”

  1. Matt Ford

    Hey Mike,

    I love this idea of focus. There’s times in my life when I experience an influx – if you will – of focus; perhaps after a yoga session, a deep meditation, or a truly “in the moment” conversation to name a few examples. After leaving these events, the world is alive: my senses are more aware, sounds are sharp and colors are bright. Also, in these times of deep focus I find that all of my life’s insights – whatever they might be – are totally present and with me. Then, something happens and a little bit of focus is drained, then something else happens, something else happens, and something else happens: eventually I’m back to living in my problems, and not above them.

    SO a few questions off of this.
    1. Do you think focus is perhaps a muscle, that can be worked, exercised and strengthened?
    2. After heightened times of focus, is it possible to maintain that focus for the entirety of your day?
    3. What other bit of advice could you offer concerning living in the world of focus?

    Keep the dream alive

    • Mike

      Matt, great questions, I’m thoroughly enjoying thinking this through more.

      Some background:

      My favorite metaphor on the mind: your thoughts are a river, and your neural-network is the river bed (see Stream of Consciousness talk on TED for reference). The river of thought is at once guided by the riverbed and also carving it out, so that your thoughts must draw from past experiences and yet at the same time consistently reshape the landscape of your brain. Consciousness, then, is our ability to direct these patterns of thought through choice and focus, allowing us to readjust our own mind. Awareness and focus, then, are our tools for creating our mind which then also creates our world. Of course senses too play into our brain geometry similar to thoughts and can be affected by focus, I’ll have think more on this, cool!

      Back to Focus:

      1. I think, similar to how a muscle works yet worth differentiating, that focus is a mental habit or ‘state of mind’ of non-resistance to the flow of information in your brain, which frees your awareness to hone in on one aspect of your perception. This gives you the ability to be completely enthralled in a particular sense or thought, allowing it to make strong connections (carve deeply) in your brain. The key to having focus, I believe, is to remove all resistance to the natural flow that’s always going on in your brain so that you aren’t creating a constant noise that leads to distraction.

      2. I do think it’s possible to remain with heightened focus for a day, a week, or even a lifetime. I’ve had days or even strings of days where I’ve been there. It’s something I find much easier when I’m not also trying to be productive in society- but then of course we all want/have to do that so the trick is finding out how. That’s a lot about what 7cees is for me.

      3. So, how to actually put this focus theory in practice? It’s a good question because intellectual discussion is ultimately pretty worthless unless there are ways to integrate its understanding into practice. You mention yoga and meditation in your question- for me they’ve been some of the most powerful tools for enhancing focus.

      I think their benefits come from concentrating on simple truths like your body or breath, which are different from external stimuli or thoughts because they are ultimately always part of your experience which makes them core to who you are. Through spending time with these ‘realities’, you get accustomed to what truth feels like, so that when you encounter busy-ness or distraction you can intuitively tell the difference.

      Other advice: You mention that ‘something happens and a bit of focus is drained.’ What happens? Figure that out and you’ll have your answer- focus on that and adapt to stop it from happening. Usually for me it comes down to one of a few things:
      1. A decision that has negative effect on my health or dreams but I choose anyway due to habit. Then I get upset at myself which ‘divides’ my experience into right and wrong, good and bad and my focus/clarity is gone. For this, I’d say the key is not to be upset at the past, but to see that even the ability to be upset at yourself comes from habit, so there’s really no benefit or reason from frustration. Habits can be changed but it does take time and effort.

      2. A fear or insecurity that’s triggered by an external circumstance such as missing an important meeting and feeling like I won’t be ‘successful’ or someone talking about balding and feeling like i’m aging. I’m not saying to avoid the external triggers- that’s impossible. Focus on what it is in you that’s making them hurt your flow and work towards accepting it. This is not easy in the slightest but it has profound results.

      Cheers on the questions man, looking forward to launch of WomStreet.

  2. Matt Ford


    Great answers…Thanks so much for the reply. I’m really starting to get what 7cees is about. I live by something Steve Jobs said: you can’t piece things forward, you can only look back and connect the dots–see how it all worked out. Looking forward, I’m very excited to see what comes about for you.



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