Ok, I’m borrowing this phrase from the new Karate Kid movie and making it my own: Your Focus Needs More Focus. I love that saying because it absolutely describes, well, just about everyone. Yes, even you. I know you think you are ultra-focused, but the fact of the matter is, very few people truly possess the “focus” gene. I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing, I actually think it’s good. People with too much focus are – well, a wee bit too serious. They’re serious about everything. Quite frankly, that’s not fun. And, more importantly, are these ultra-focused people missing the point?
I used to golf; I say “used to” because I gave it up this past year. Too many serious people are playing golf. I golfed with dudes who got all torqued up when they made a bad shot. Quite frankly, at one time, I did too. Some folks, though, were just way overboard. Lining up the shot, taking a swing, positioning themselves, lining up the shot again – alright already, hit the damn ball. Watching them made me realize – what am I getting crazy about? I’m out on a beautiful day on the course with some buds having great conversations – why am I getting all bent over a bad shot or a high score?
Then, one day I was invited to play Pebble Beach. When I got to the course, everyone was all jacked up about playing, but were making themselves crazy about striking the ball well. It just dawned on me that their focus on doing well was causing them to absolutely not enjoy themselves. It was absurd – guys working all week long so they can play golf on the weekend, and then stressing out more on the course than they did at work. As I walked up to the first hole at Pebble Beach, while the other three guys in the foursome were discussing a match, I knew instantly that I was not going to ruin the experience by keeping score. So, to the dismay of the rest of the crew, I did not. I had the best round of my life. I’m not talking about the score, I’m talking about happiness. Absolutely the best golfing experience of my life, and at the Mecca of golf – Pebble Beach, to boot!
After the round, the guys were talking about the double bogie they got on hole six, or the par they got on seven. I was focused on the green, high on a cliff and the lone tree on hole number six; hitting the ball down onto the green with a spectacular view of the ocean on seven, as well as the great weather, the fun, laughter, and some putting contests we had with the caddies. I had the best round of golf of my life. From that day on I never kept score again. I played with my brother-in-law Stephen a couple of rounds later, and after the round he said to me, “Lou, I’ve never seen you play as well as you did today.” Then he stated that if I had kept score, it probably would have been one of the best cards I ever turned in. He then asked me, “Why did you stop keeping score, you were always ultra-competitive, what happened?”
I looked at Stephen and said, “I competed because I wanted to show people how good I was – now I know that it really doesn’t matter what they think. While I was so focused on hitting the ball the best I could, I wasn’t having the fun the way I should have. I am truly enjoying myself now.” Because all the pressure was off and the focus was on fun, and not on how well I did, I played better. Focus is great, as long as you are focusing on the right things.
I really enjoyed playing golf with the guys, once I had the full realization of what mattered. That’s why I quit. I worked all week and the kids went to school, so our time on the weekdays was limited. The four hours I spent on the course on the weekend were four hours I wasn’t spending with them. They are more important to me than golf; if you are going to focus on the things that truly matter, don’t fool yourself, focus on the things that do truly matter. For me, that is my kids. So I quit golf (for now). If they decide they want to play, or when they go off to college, I probably will pick it up again.
For anything in life, if you let too much ride on the outcome, it will not be enjoyable. It doesn’t matter if it’s golf, work, money, school or relationships. Don’t let your focus on any of these things become an obsession. Don’t let the pressure make you so wound up that you are not performing at your best and executing to the fullest. Understand that too much of anything is not a good thing, and that balance is the key. And always remember, focus is a good thing, as long as your focus has its eye on what’s truly important.