Your choice of focus matters the most
What you focus on shapes your performance and results – as well as the experience you have in any moment. You want to do well and enjoy the ride – we all do. Yet many people I talk to who are achieving great results also express feelings of stress and frustration that are overriding what’s positive and fun for them in their day. Do you experience work the way you want to? Are you getting the results you want?
You don’t see things as they are – you see them as you are
How we experience others, our environment, and ourselves is a function of the information we choose to filter in. We all have a unique way of interpreting what happens around us based on who we are: our values, attitudes, beliefs, our experiences, and our reference points. That’s why six people in a meeting can share different views on the dynamics and conversations had in the room. No two people create the same reality.
What you filter in creates your reality and experience
We are meaning creating machines – we have to be to function normally. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Flow, estimated we have 2 million pieces of information per second coming through our five senses. If you had to be aware of all of that information, your nervous system couldn’t cope. Instead, your nervous system chunks the information down in bite size manageable chunks – so you filter in the chunks that are relevant (based on your focus), and you leave out the rest by distorting, generalising and deleting your experience of it. You simply cannot recall accurately, everything you experience in your day – which is why your choice of focus is so important.
The meanings you make from what you filter in create your experience. Are you choosing to see work life as hard where people don’t get it right and get in the way? Or are you choosing to hear everything as a gift – as an opportunity to grow and learn – about you and others?
Our ‘meanings’ often get in the way
The interpretations or meanings we create as the ‘truth’ can result in us overthinking and overanalysing things. For example, you don’t get an internal promotion and you make it mean you’re not valued or rated as highly as you should be. Your ego kicks in wanting to judge and be right, and keeps your inner voice busy and ‘on alert’. Feeling frustrated and down, you look for evidence to support your view which shapes your experience of not being valued. The meaning you created was based on your choice of self-doubt. Yet the reality is, you might have agreed with the decision not to appoint you had you known the decision criteria and/or trade-offs made.
What you focus on is what you get
This amazing survival mechanism of filtering in information and creating meaning from it, can work for us or against us. What if by filtering in evidence of how you can create success, you start getting more of that result? Wouldn’t it be worth doing something that would give you that? Wouldn’t that be a step you’d want to and need to take?
If you tell yourself ‘I can’t do it’ (e.g. perform in a more senior role even though you want to) which is generalising, then, what would happen if you started filtering in information that supported why you have the potential and are ready now? What would you focus on and filter in instead? What if what you thought was a challenge became an opportunity? What if what you thought was a rejection was in fact a gift?
To change your experience of something doesn’t rely on other things needing to be different – it’s that you need to change your focus on what you’re noticing around you. How can you start noticing the things that will give you moments and experiences to enjoy? What can you start to filter in that will help get even more of the results you want? When you focus on these opportunities you’ll have more fun, enjoy others around you more, and step into your potential sooner. Here’s to your success!