BY SCOTT HALFORD, CSP, CPAE
Learn to make the
most of your brain’s ability
to focus and wander
You are not naturally good at one of the most prized attributes in today’s
world. I don’t mean you specifically. I mean all of us. Humans have a
tough time paying attention to one thing. We would rather look up and
around and into our technology to see what else is going on. Squirrel!
It is easy to distract the human brain, and it takes intensive energy
to focus it. And yet focus—paying attention to the moment at hand—
is the activity that helps you complete tasks. It gives you a rewarding
neurotransmitter bump when you achieve a goal, and it’s a very good
predictor of overall success. So, why are you so bad at it?
THE FOCUS OF A LIONESS VS. SQUIRREL!
Picture a lioness as she stalks her dinner. The intense focus she uses to
mask the sounds of her several hundred pounds crushing brush under
paw and the sense to hide her whereabouts are otherworldly. At the precise moment that she needs it, her brain’s survival network sets up a
cascade of chemistry that allows her to pounce and succeed. She doesn’t
muse, “Hmm, if I don’t get this antelope, is there another one nearby? I
wonder what my mate is doing right now? I wonder if the dry cleaning is
ready to pick up?” No. She focuses.
Humans, unlike the lion, do not naturally focus on the present. We
have a di;erent natural and remarkable capability. We can dream up
things that do not exist and that have not been imagined by mentally
wandering into the future. It’s called prospection. You may not realize
this, but you do this throughout the day.