Clear and directed focus (like a laser beam) produces results. That’s right, you heard me correctly – Focus! Here is an important question: Where is your attention right now?

Stop and think for a moment. Is your attention easily distracted? Be honest, it’s okay. Are you oftentimes focusing on ten different things at the same time? Are you “kind of” reading this article while texting on your cell phone, watching TV, or messaging someone on Facebook? I’m asking you these questions because there is a direct correlation between the quality of your focus and the results you get.

Let me review an important research study in which you may or may not have heard before on the topic of focus…

In 2001 at the University of Calgary, a team of researchers closely studied three elite basketball teams that were top-four ranked teams from the national championships. To say that it takes exceptional focus to be an elite athlete is an understatement, right? Even if you don’t play or never have played basketball… think about it for a second. These athletes have to toss a big one-pound ball 10 feet in the air for a distance of 15 feet and through a metal ring, only slightly bigger than the ball. I think you get the point. These athletes must have a secret skill far above routine practice and athleticism that helps them do this incredible feat over and over again many times a day with such precision, right?

Guess what the unique skill is… Focus!

Not only did the research team observe the masterful focus of these elite individuals, they also trained one of the three teams to use a method that could possibly enhance their focus. The other two teams received no additional training and acted as control groups.

The researchers called this method the “Quiet Eye Technique.” They defined the technique as the “last acquisition of target information before the shooting movement was initiated.” In layman’s terms, it’s focusing the eyes on the target before taking the shot. The key word here is before. We’ll get back to that.

The researchers trained the test group of athletes to “enhance” their focus by having them take a stance, focus on the hoop, and bounce the ball three times while slowly repeating the phrase “nothing but net.”

The next step in the technique was to hold the ball in the shooting stance, focus your eyes on a single spot on the hoop for about 1.5 seconds and say the words “Sight – Focus” to themselves.

They were instructed to focus only on this spot prior to the beginning of the shooting movement. Any of three locations on the basket can be the focus: the front, middle or back of the rim.

Finally, the athletes were instructed to shoot the ball quickly using a smooth, rapid motion. The researchers even mentioned that there was no need to continue the eye focus as the shooting motion takes place. The results that were discovered were even better than expected. By the end of the second year of this training,

the test group’s free-throw percentage increased from 54% to 76.6%. A huge improvement of 22.6% occurred. That’s amazing, especially considering the fact that the two control groups experienced an average increase of 5.5% over that period.

The research study concluded 1) That it’s more important to focus the eyes before the shot than during the shot itself, and also 2) That acquiring clear and direct focus on your target and performing a self-talk prior to going for the target increases the chance that a target will be achieved.

Do you think that this is applicable in the real World? Well, of course it is!

Think about how important this research is towards setting goals in general and also keeping your focus on a single task at a time for maximum results.

Now, of course, we can have multiple goals going at the same time throughout our lives. However, it’s a great thing to consider in life as we evaluate our effectiveness while we have a dozen tasks we attempt to conquer simultaneously at the same time. I’m not saying that multi-tasking isn’t effective. I actually know some people who do it very well.

On the other hand, I’ve also witnessed many of my clients who are “scattered” and focus on too many things at once and it ends up having a negative impact on their productivity and their results. And, like the elite basketball players in the study, once they focused on one thing at a time, their results significantly improved.

As we take into consideration the statistics in the basketball research study, it’s apparent that focus is important, isn’t it? We should all be able to practice exceptional focus and achieve more results in our lives, right? I think so… and ultimately, it depends on you and your ability to have clear and directed Focus, like a laser beam.

Alright, another important success principle down… more to come in the next publication.