The Pros and Cons of Hyper-Focus
You know the drill. Everyone has an area of their life where they shut everything out to focus on one thing. You may start on something and lose track of time. You may be able to sell all day long but never finish the paperwork. Your clients or patients may love the time you give them but hate the way you always run late. You lose your job and frustrate your family when it doesn’t work. It’s a wonderful skill and everyone loves you when it does work. Let’s have a little more of the latter.
Expanding the Value of Your Ability to Hyper-Focus
There is a practice you can learn that will help you to expand your skills but first you’ll need a fresh perspective. It feels good when you do something well. It’s magical when you can do something well that few others can master! A clinician who can find answers for their patients where others have failed will not willingly change their approach. A salesman who can “sell ice cubes to an Eskimo” isn’t going to waste their time learning to close differently. This is the hard-earned magic that they feel makes their life worth living.
What if, rather than changing anything, you could add to the magic? Do you remember the scene in “Top Gun”? The commander says something like, “You are the elite, the best of the best… we’ll make you better”. This is the only way to address your ability to hyper-focus and the magic it creates.
When you hyper-focus, you shut out all extraneous distractions. You focus on the one thing that you have found gives you the information you need to be successful. Additionally, you employ an internal strategy that focuses your mental energy on one or two of the three major organizers of your brain’s efforts.
Taking Hyper-Focus from Good to Great
Instead of changing what you already do so well, what about slowly adding to it? You didn’t develop your talent overnight and you won’t add to your talent overnight either. You can, however, slowly infuse the information available in all three circuits to go from “good to great” in all your relationships.
At any one time, your brain has three organizing circuits that focus on different aspects of the present moment. One is your “sense of self circuit”. It is entirely focused around what is best for you. Another is called the “mirror neuronal system”. It is entirely focused on what is best for someone else, usually the person you are talking to. A third circuit, your “recurrent loop circuit”, considers all other relationships in both of your lives.
On a computer game, you focus on the game. As a compassionate salesman, you focus on your client’s needs and potentially lose your shirt. As a non-compassionate salesman, you focus on your needs, making the sale but, eventually ruining the relationship. Each of the above people have developed a skill that wins the game or creates the sale but, at a cost.
Don’t change your style, add to it. Determine which of the three brain circuits you rely on now. You likely use the same circuit in all your relationships while variably ignoring the other two. If you can’t figure it out ask anyone who knows you and will be honest with you. They will instantly tell you. If you still can’t figure it out, here are a few nicknames you may have been given:
Jerk face: You’re using the sense of self circuit while ignoring the information available in the other two circuits.
John “No Problem” Smith: You’re using your mirror neuronal system while ignoring your sense of self system. You may also be ignoring your recurrent loop circuit. This may get you into trouble as you may tend to lose your boundaries with people.
“Suffering servant”: Unless you are Jesus, this rarely works. It can be ok to tolerate a fair degree of pain for the greater good. Suffering, however, speaks to ignoring the information in your sense of self circuit is trying to offer you. Your suffering will likely have you ignore your mirror neuronal circuits as well. In this case, you will expect everyone around you to suffer as well.
We all do this to some degree. Consider this practice. When talking to another, take a deep
breath to spiritually center and ask yourself these three questions:
- What do I need right now?
- What does the person I am talking to need right now?
- What do the people in our lives and around us need right now?
It will take time but by simply opening-up the information available in all three of your organizational circuits new options will appear. Maybe surprisingly, you will find everyone more relaxed, including you. You will still have “the magic” but, without the compromise, everything will make sense.
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