Fearless Performance by Jeff Nelsen

Focus Well

After a friend of mine performed two recitals, they said they thought their second performance went better than their first.  When I asked her thoughts on what might have helped her play better the second night, she said, "I think I was more focused."
I was struck with an interesting question.  I asked, "Isn't it more about where we focus, rather than how much we focus?"
I believe we are almost always 100% focused, it's just that sometimes we're choosing to focus on who's in the audience, what we could gain by playing well, or why that fly is buzzing over our head.  If I'm always 100% focused, when I realize I'm making mistakes, my goal is to quickly shift my focus to the best possible constructive aspect of the situation. 
A student asked me today about how I deal with distraction.  I told him that I believe when we're distracted, we're actually just focusing on something.  We only decide we were distracted when we discover, or are told, we weren't focusing on what we "should" have been.  I passionately suggest we give ourselves an emotional break from feeling guilt, or giving ourselves grief, for being "distracted".  Let's just celebrate our ability to focus and move that great focus onto the best thing that moment needs.
I was recently diagnosed with ADHD.  Yes, for most people who hear that, it's not a big surprise!  Ha!  I'm pretty excited to share this information in hopes that some people will not think less of their potential because of this diagnosis.  
In my Fearless Performance lectures, I show a slide outlining places our minds can focus: Process/Technique (Our How), Product/Music (Our What) or Purpose/Story (Our Why).  
My next slide shows a bit more of where my mind often is.
I say, "You do NOT have to have a perfect mind, or even a clear mind all the time!  I am often a mental mess, but I am a highly successful mental mess!  I've learned how to think more about solutions than problems, and trained myself to quickly focus well when I realize I'm not.
I've helped some people who focus on their ADHD aspect in negative ways by sharing my belief that ADHD can actually be "Attention Surplus" rather than "Attention Deficit".  Very often, we are overly focusing on something...and that's not a bad thing!  Not only is it not bad, this focus surplus can be a massive strength...if seen and used as one.
This week's task - Focus Well
Whenever you make a mistake (I define a mistake as missing something you can play), move your focus as quickly and aggressively as possible to a constructive thought or action. 
ANY constructive thought will work at first!  The more you do this, the better you will get at what Malcolm Gladwell calls "Thin Slicing".  In his book, "Blink", he defines Thin Slicing is the ability to almost freeze time...basically take a slice of time, look at the whole slice, understand it, and instantly choose the one best action that best serves that thin slice of time.
Don't just try to focus better.  Having that as your goal makes it too easily reached.  You could focus 1% better and end up reaching your goal.  Keep clarity in your goal setting, and always go for focusing well.  Do this for as long as possible, notice when you're not, and then focus well again.  Repeat...repeat...
Keep it simple:
Focus well. Notice when you're not. Focus well. Repeat.
...oh, and stay well rested.  That helps too!  
Wishing you focus wellness,

Jeff Nelsen
Jeff Nelsen


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