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Concentration is the most powerful force you can harness. 

Without it, your life fades into a chaotic state which deprives your life of joy. 

But with it? You unlock superpowers that help you accomplish levels of success most people never reach. 

And you know what?

You’ll make a lot more precious memories along the way too. 

In this episode, you’ll discover how to improve your concentration (even if you have ADHD like me). 

Listen now and unlock a superpower. 

Show highlights include: 

  • The powerful “45:15 Method” for laser focusing on any task (even if you’re a procrastinator) (1:39) 
  • The oddball “Practice Distractions” trick from Tiger Woods’s father which helps you conquer distractions with ease (3:51) 
  • The professor of cognitive psychology’s “Concentration Spotlight” secret for never losing focus (5:28) 
  • 3 universal tips for strengthening your concentration muscles today (6:16) 
  • The insidious way even the smallest distractions devour your free time and joy (10:11) 
  • Why breaking down your to-do list into tiny “mini to-dos” helps you accomplish double the work in half the time (11:08) 

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.

(00:24): Hello friends. Thank you so much for joining us. I want to talk to you about concentration and the power that is ours. When we concentrate first, a definition concentration is to focus one's attention or mental effort on a particular object or activity. To me, the most important word in that definition is focus. This subject is very personal with me. I have a tension deficit disorder. Actually. It's been a blessing. You see it forces me to discover strategic ways to increase my is so that I can concentrate more effectively. However, as a child in the 1960s, it was frustrating to say the least. I had no idea why I wasn't able to focus in school. My parents were frustrated with my grades yet. I tested at a high aptitude and I could retain almost anything. It wasn't until I got to graduate school years later that I made two discoveries.

(01:30): First, I have a photographic memory. And second, when I push myself, I can focus. I can concentrate. I combined those two discoveries and came up with a real, simple, a to survive the heavy workload of a doctoral program. It's a strategy I refer to as 45 15. I discipline my focus for a period of time. And then I reward myself and then repeat the cycle. Here's how it works. I force myself to concentrate the first 45 minutes of each and the hour that I'm working on a project, knowing that in the final 15 minutes, a reward awaits in graduate school at the university of Oregon, back in the 1980s, those 15 minute rewards range from a quick workout to going outside to a snow covered front yard and making snow angels. These days, my rewards are a bit less exhausting, but nonetheless rewarding. I taught myself that concentration is a learned behavior.

(02:34): It's a choice. It's a choice that I must intentionally make several times throughout the day. And it's an activity to it requires constant maintenance, sports psychologists, Natalie Deron Bush says in the athletic world, the key is to concentrate on your focus. Listen to this Deron. Bush says the skill of focusing is about realizing where to put your attention and being able to make those shifts very quickly, almost at a subconscious level because everything is happening so fast. Learning how to do this involves training with different distractions that might make an athlete lose focus during a critical moment, and then bringing their attention back to the game. You see friends, distractions are inevitable in competition as well as in life, but professional athletes acknowledge distractions, but they train their minds. They train to control their minds, regulate focus, control emotions, and reach the state of flow necessary for maximum concentration.

(03:49): Here's a great example, icon tiger woods. Now when tiger would practice putting his whole focus was to put the ball in the hole. However, his father had a different agenda. His father would try to distract him. So his tiger is focused on the hold. Father Earl would try to distract tiger by jingling keys or by dropping coins into a can so that he could make noise. Anything to distract tiger. Tiger remained focused. And I think you would agree with me that it's paid off. I recall my days on the football coaching staff at Texas a and M university before a Saturday away game in a particularly noisy stadium. And by the way, most away games are played in noisy stadiums. We'd pipe in music and crowd noise. During practice we'd pipe in noise at a maximum decibel level. We tried everything to distract our players during practice.

(04:56): Why? Because by anticipating distractions and creating contingent, see plans, our players can avoid losing their focus. The athlete is fully prepared for the distractions because the brain is trained to minimize the unknown. Our brain can be trained to minimize distractions instead of hitting the panic button to the player remains in the moment, maintains focus and executes the planned response. Aiden Moran is a professor of cognitive psychology. He argues that we should think of concentration like a spotlight. Instead of thinking about something we can lose. Think about how concentration never lost, but misplaced, which means we can regain our focus. According to Miam regarding concentration as a spotlight is a very powerful idea. You can never lose your concentration. It's always somewhere. The key is to regain it. So friends, regardless of the task, whether trying to put a ball into a hole or complete a work project or improve your tennis swing, or in my case, work on my golf game.

(06:16): Here are three universal tips that I believe will help us increase, focus and strengthen concentration. Number one, only focus on what you can control in golf. I cannot control the placement of the sand trap. I cannot control where the water hazard is, but I can control where I choose to focus. If my focus is on the water, guess what chances are. I'm going to hit the ball right into the water every time. So I must change my target. Remember what professor Moran said? You can never lose your concentration. It's always somewhere. It's where we place our concentration accounts. And so I choose the focus, not on the water, not on the sand trap, but I choose a target, a target that I to hit, oh baby, you can train your mind to focus on something other than the negative. I'm reading a great book that reinforces this right now.

(07:30): It's by sports psychologists, Dr. Bob Rotel, Dr. Bob works with elite athletes and he focuses on their mental performance. The book is titled. Golf is not a game of perfect. And chapter seven alone is worth buying the book. That chapter is titled what? The third I sees Dr. Bob, a performance expert who has coached the tall golfer in the world. He writes about how the trained mind will allow the eye to gravitate toward a target here's Rotella's instruction to golfers before taking a shot before taking any shot, a golfer must pick out the smallest possible target, not a tree, for example, but a branch on the tree, not even a branch, but perhaps even a leaf. If you can discover one, here's a golfer's usual reply to Dr. Bob's instruction. Well, I'm just gonna aim down the middle of a fairway. That's what I'm do.

(08:41): And Dr. Bob says that's not good enough. Aiming down the middle is the equivalent of trying to go to Los Angeles by flying to an airport somewhere in California, the brain responds best when the eyes focused on the smallest possible target. I'm gonna say that again. Dr. Bob says the brain responds best. When the eyes focus on the smallest possible target, the smaller, the target, the sharper, the focus, the sharper, the focus, the better the concentration, the better the concentration, the better the results. Dr. Bob argues that when an athlete locks his eyes and mind onto a small target, the ball naturally tends to follow. Maybe that's why ne league and major league baseball pitch satchel page would place a bubble gum wrapper on the edge of home plate. As he warmed up. Paige believed that aiming at that small bubble gum wrapper aiming at that small target sharpened his control.

(09:55): Here's the second tip to help us concentrate, train with distractions. You don't avoid distractions. You anticipate them first. The word from business consultant, Robin Sharma, who said on one occasion, the average person is distracted. A minimum of two hours. Every single day interrupted every 11 minutes. And then it takes 30 minutes to return back to a deep level of thinking. It's okay to anticipate distractions. Why? Because it forces us to develop a contingency plan that we will regain our focus. I'm distracted daily. As I attempt to accomplish my projects, I've learned to stay focused through the telephone calls, through the interruptions, even internal desires to check emails and so forth. All these distractions I place into a bucket labeled 15 minute rewards. That's right. One of my rewards these days is to empty the bucket by returning emails. During that 15 minute reward period, by returning text messages.

(11:05): During that 15 minute reward, period, friends, put your distractions in a bucket, pick a little target and hit it on an hourly basis. Worry less about how little your target is work on. Focusing on that target. I'm working on my latest book right now. And despite the distractions, even despite publisher deadlines, I choose a small target every single day. Sometimes my target is reworking a previously written paragraph. Couple of weeks of ago, I was rewriting. Just one sentence. That's right. I spent 45 minutes rewriting one simple declarative statement because I hit my target. An average sentence became a work of literary beauty. Hit your target, hit your target by staying focused on the smallest target. You can possibly focus on guess what will happen? You will strengthen your concentration. Here's the third tip to improve concentration, focus a on the process, not the outcome. I was privileged to serve under legendary college football coach, RC slum.

(12:22): I was his life skills coordinator, a a character coach. If you will, I'll never forget a championship game. Back in 1998. And we were behind at halftime. It was 17 to three. As I recall, we were playing Kansas state for the big 12 championship at the RCA dome in St. Louis, Missouri, and, uh, we were behind and it was probably one of the greatest halftime speeches I'd ever heard. Coach locum give. And I heard a lot of them and it was also one of the shortest speeches. And here was the key charge to the players, the coaches and the staff here it is, coach locum said, don't look at the scoreboard, just play the next play. Oh, friends. How often do we go through life? Looking at the score war board, looking at the outcome and missing key moments throughout the day to sharpen our focus so that we can improve our concentration.

(13:26): You see in competitive environments, failure is inevitable. That's why the truly great athletes develop amnesia. They learn from failure. Then they move on. They don't focus on the outcome. They don't focus on the scoreboard. They focus on the moment. The focus is not on the failure. That's destructive. They make the focus on something that is productive. That is in the present that is in the here and now we all know that particular person who loses a card game and goes crazy or misses a basketball shot. And it's the end of the world. I play golf with a guy who sometimes gets so angry at a missed golf shot that his entire day is ruined. And then all of a sudden guess what becomes the folk focus is anger. Mm. Focus on the process, not the outcome. Here's the critical question that I'll ask myself often.

(14:26): Can I remain focused on the target for the moment, regardless of what the moment holds Thomas Edison once said, the first requisite for success in any field is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem. Incessantly without growing weary in his landmark book, think and grow rich. Napoleon hill gave us this nugget after interviewing the wealthiest most successful people of his time. He'll discovered that the two most common variables each successful person possessed was a singleness of purpose and a burning desire to accomplish that purpose, increase your concentration. Focus on your target friends. Throughout the years, I've had many golf lessons. Here's a major nugget from a recent lesson, retrain your mind to hit ahead of the ball. Rick, that was all the instructor said, re in your mind to hit ahead of the ball. This particular instructor was watching my swing and he was noticing that in my practice swings, I was landing the club face behind the ball.

(15:45): Mini golfers hit behind the ball, which affects aim and trajectory and distance. I'm certainly at the top of the list, but a simple exercise for the driving range has changed everything. Let me see if I can explain it first. What I want you to do if you're interested is tee up your ball right now, back away from the tee up ball. Keep it in front of you, but take a step back from the tee ball. Then find a twig or a leaf or a piece of wood on the ground. Then what I want you to do is, as you are parallel to your tee ball, place the twig on the ground, three to four inches in front of where your teeball is and take a practice. Swing this time. Your target is not the ball. Your target is the twig you are trying to hit, hit the twig.

(16:33): In other words, you are trying to swing at a target, a small target ahead of your ball. By hitting the twig. We actually begin retraining our mind to not hit behind the ball, but ahead of the ball after your practice swing, now you're ready. Step up to your tee ball. Look four inches ahead of the ball and use that spot as your target friends, it's amazing how our golf shots will improve. It's amazing how we are actually hitting the ball a higher percentage of the time. It's amazing as my a golf instructor said, what can happen when we hit the ball and knock the ground? Jack Nicholas once said 90% of golf shots are missed before you start your swing brands increase your concentration, focus on your target. I'm gonna close, but I know we've had a lot of sports analogies in this podcast, but I assure you, the principles of concentration are universal.

(17:42): They all hinge upon one thing, maximizing your focus by creating small targets. Every major project I work on and they're all major are broken into small targets that guide me throughout the process. The targets become my accountability team. They keep me from allowing distractions that can take me off course, just like the golfer on the course, looking for some target to, for break your tasks into targets, focusing on that target, making that target as small as possible and friends don't be surprised when your concentration dramatically improves. I believe it. I believe it. I leave it, try it. You're gonna be blessed. You're gonna be encouraged. You're gonna be uplifted. You are gonna concentrate at a much higher level. Well, that's gonna do it for this episode until we meet again. This is Dr. Rick asking the most important question I can ask how you live it.

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.

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