Focus (“Solitary”)


Hey, Frameshifters.

I have had some very interesting conversations over the past two weeks about focus. Specifically, as I transition into focusing more and more on my coaching practice, I notice that I struggle to — well, FOCUS. I like to think that I have a vast supply of energy to draw from on any given day, and was baffled as to why I struggled so much to sit down and do what I need for my business. A few weeks ago, my own coach said something to the effect of, “It sounds like you do so much planning for others that you don’t have the energy to spend on yourself.” It seemed plausible. Then I considered an experience I had 10 years ago —

I was working on my teaching credential and had an AWFUL student teaching experience. G_d, that is a story… But for another time. The long-short is that I had to switch mentors at the very end of the year. At this point, my studies were complete, and all I had to focus on was my practicum. My advisor came to observe me teach and offer feedback, as well as to check in about the placement. This particular week, I was tasked with running the classroom by myself. I was on fire. 90+% of the week was stellar. After a particular lesson, she sat down for us to check in, but I was buzzing around the room, getting everything ready for the afternoon.

I said, “Don’t worry, I’m listening. I can multitask.”
She said, “Oh, I know. Better at multitasking in the moment than in life.”

That really stunned me. I’m paraphrasing to the best of my recollection — but essentially, she was attributing some of my struggles at my previous placement with having too many other things on my mind at the time.

  1. I really believed she was right when I heard her say it.
  2. I knew that while that might have been true, my previous mentor was still TERRIBLE.

This notion that I’m not a good multitasker has lingered with me. Do I thrive when I have a single, solitary focus? I’ve always thought of myself as getting bored when I only have one thing to do… Perhaps that’s why I love my current role as a middle school level lead: I’m prone to engaging in three or four different types of tasks on any given day, employing multiple elements of my interests and personality. I might work with students on math, followed by crafting an email to the community, followed by having a planning meeting, followed by doing some creative writing with students, followed by designing an algorithm in a spreadsheet in order to track information, followed by making a lesson plan for an activity to help students’ socio-emotional development, followed by —

HOLY CRAP! I just realized that I just described what it would be like to run my business full-time…

The wonders of writing… Wowzers… I’m being further convinced by the elucidation of my own thoughts that I am spreading my energy WAY thin… Hmmm…

OK, so maybe I’ve been thinking about solitary focus the wrong way… Perhaps it would be more accurate to say something like

When an element of my Self is strongly focused on one task, it does not have the capacity to deeply engage in another task.

I definitely have a tendency to hyperfocus…

“Ryan, you have used a lot of ellipses in this post.”
Great, yeah, thanks for pointing that out…

So many thoughts… so many incomplete thoughts…

I’m going to have to tag this post “#processing,” cuz, wow — y’all are getting a window into the real play-by-play right now.

Gonna pause this here, get some sleep. I have a phone call that I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow, dark and early.

Suggestion: Do a self-check about how you are spending your energy and attention lately. Is it serving you (of course it is, or you wouldn’t be doing it…)? What might serve you better? Or, perhaps, what could you do that is more in alignment with what you say you want?

Talk with you soon,

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