The Power of Focus

Topics:
  • A few days ago I visited my favorite beach in the British Virgin Islands, Loblolly, on the tiny island of Anegada. Only 12 miles long and less than 25′ in elevation, Anegada has less than 200 residents. A handful of sailors brave the tricky entrance across miles of coral reefs to visit Anegada. I love it for the simplicity and connection I feel from the sheer beauty and the solitude. We set out to play on my favorite beach, Loblolly.

    This visit was no different, except for an invitation from Charlie, the bartender at the little beach bar, The Big Bamboo.  Charlie pointed out the signs all over the exterior of his bar and invited me to create one. First of all, there were hundreds of signs- literally- and I never “saw” them. They were right in front of my eyes yet I never said, “Gee, I wonder who made these and perhaps I should make one too!”, even though the signs were right in front of me. I was always focused on getting to the beach and have always walked right by the bar.

    Charlie told me to go find a piece of wood and handed me a magnifying glass. He showed me on a small sample piece, how just focusing the concentrated beam of sunlight would burn the wood, enabling me to write whatever message I chose to create. Holding the magnifying glass at the right angle would create a tiny flame and the resulting small plume of smoke and allow me to write a message on the wood.

    It took me nearly an hour to find the right piece of wood, which had been washed up on the beach. Then I began the process of burning the letters into the wood to create a permanent mark. The process required a great deal on concentration, for if you changed the focus on the sun’s rays by moving the glass or changing the angle,  it would burn the wood where I didn’t want it to write.  Daydreaming wasn’t an option for it left a permanent mark in the wrong place.

    I decided to write “InspireMeToday.com May 2010” on my sign.

    Just as I got started a cloud blotted out the rays of the sun, diminishing the effectiveness of my “work”. I had to be patient and wait until the cloud moved for only the concentrated, focused rays of the sun were strong enough to create the burn on the wood.

    I couldn’t help but see the parallel between my efforts and life. How many times have I been oblivious to the signs all around me? How many times have I lost focus? How many times have I lost patience when a cloud of life blocked my energy? Creating this physical sign was a tangible exercise in the power of focus. Without having patience it wouldn’t work. Without focusing the energy of the sun into one spot it wouldn’t work. Without paying attention with continual focus, it wouldn’t work.

    This entire experience made me wonder, how many other “signs” are there in my life that I’m ignoring? Where am I losing focus and writing the wrong message? The sun is  very powerful, but without focus, even the sun couldn’t burn a message into the wood. Like the sun, what opportunities am I missing due to lack of  focus?

    I’m taking the metaphorical magnifying glass to my life and examining where I’m putting my energy and focus, and making sure it’s on the things that matter most. With concentrated focus, anything is possible- even leaving a permanent mark on the world…. in this case in the form of a sign, hanging at a little beach bar on a tiny island in the Caribbean.

    If you ever get to Loblolly, look for the InspireMeToday.com sign and perhaps you’ll see where I left my mark. 🙂

    Gail Lynne Goodwin

    Gail Lynne Goodwin is the founder of InspireMeToday.com, bringing the best inspiration to the world. InspireMeToday.com provides free inspiration, each day from a new Inspirational Luminary, to a global community of folks from over 150 countries. Gail has interviewed many well-known names including Sir Richard Branson, Guy Laliberte, Seth Godin, Tony Hseih, Gary Vaynerchuk, Michael Gerber, Marci Shimoff, Jack Canfield and hundreds more. According to Mashable, Gail was one of 2009's Top 25 Most Inspirational People on Twitter. Prior to InspireMeToday.com, Gail spent several years as manager for her recording artist daughter, Carly. As a result of the success of their co-penned song, "Baby Come Back Home", Gail accompanied her daughter to bases in the US and to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where Carly performed for our troops. Gail and Carly created the 'World's Longest Letter' of love and support and delivered the 18-mile long scroll on a month-long tour of Iraq and the Persian Gulf in 2006. Gail is excited to present her latest course, Love in 21 Days, a step-by-step guide to finding love online. Love in 21 Days is founded on a logical process that has been tested - and proven! - by not only Gail, but also by students around the world who too have found love. Gail is a published author and a regular writer for the Huffington Post. She offers mentoring and mastermind services to clients worldwide from her home in Whitefish, Montana. Follow Gail on Twitter or Google+.

    Recent Releases

    View all posts by Gail Lynne Goodwin.

    1. Pa
      Pa says:

      Good word Gail. Focus is every bit as important as vision. Even a visionary can be dead in the water if he looses focus. Great word picture / sign 🙂

      Reply
    2. andrea metcalf
      andrea metcalf says:

      If you focus on something the light will bring energy… just like your magnifying glass burned the wood. Energy is the highest goal – it;s what we do with the energy that brings about the greatest good and change. I love this article… you can’t believe it until you experience the focus

      Reply
    3. Jeanette
      Jeanette says:

      Dear Gail,

      I know how hard you worked and focused to complete this inspiration. It would have been so easy to give up with the clouds blocking the sunlight, the wind, the snake, and your friends interrupting.

      I’m proud of you for not giving up and honored to be your friend who saw you in action on a glorious beach.

      Joy to you today and always,

      Jeanette

      Reply
      • Gail
        Gail says:

        Jeanette, thank you for taking the fabulous photos of my efforts with the sun. I’m so glad you joined us on this adventure!

        Reply
    4. Gail
      Gail says:

      Jeanette, thank you for taking the photos of me burning this sign! I’m so grateful you joined us on this adventure, and blessed for your friendship. Big hugs!

      Gail

      Reply
    5. Rob Britt
      Rob Britt says:

      interesting. I wrote an article this morning on focus as well. Maybe something was in the air. I think the thing that impedes most peoples progress is distraction. Sometimes we mistake signs for distractions, and other times distractions are the signs.
      Thanks for making me think.
      Rob

      Reply
    6. sandra mckenna
      sandra mckenna says:

      Gail … You never cease to amaze me. Your simple trip to the beach turns into a life lesson that truly “inspired me today” .. Great post!!!!!!

      Reply
    7. Hank Wasiak
      Hank Wasiak says:

      Love this post and it was great to talk to you about your experience on the beach. There are some many wonderful and exciting things possible today/Like you, I sometimes have trouble finding the power of focus. I’m find myself being the Will Rogers of ideas….”I never met one I didn’t like.” You’ve inspired me to put on my asset-based thinking lenses to do two things….look harder and deeper at the best assets and opportunities around me and magnify what’s best to make the most of what’s next.

      Thanks again for the inspiration.

      Hank Wasiak

      Reply
      • Gail
        Gail says:

        Hank, thanks for the comment. I agree, it was great to talk with you today too!

        Focus is a problem for so many entrepreneurs because everything looks like a great idea. When you can see potential in everything it’s hard to stay with one thing. I keep reminding myself that I am holding the magnifying glass- and I alone determine the power of the focus. I’m such a tangible person that this was a great lesson for me. Go buy a magnifying glass and try it… you’ll see what I mean.

        I hope to see you in the Caribbean soon- and I’ll take you to this bar to show you my sign.

        Thanks and hugs,

        Gail

        Reply
    8. marianne
      marianne says:

      Hi Gail..
      That’s one of my favorite places in the world as well! We’ve tweeted back and forth about our love of sailing and the islands! We’re heading back on July 30th and I can’t wait to get to Anageda… it’s just so simply amazing!

      cheers!
      marianne

      Reply

    What Do You Think?

    What Do You Think?