Phil Jackson is known as the Zen coach of basketball. He drew from Native American religions and Buddhism to help the Chicago Bulls to six world championships and the LA Lakers to 5 titles. In his book, Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior, Phil Jackson stated that one of his secrets to success on the hardwood was to encourage his players to follow the principles of Zen and live fully in each moment without distraction.
One of Jackson’s most famous pupils, Michael Jordan took Zen philosophy to heart both on and off the court. Being in the moment helped Michael stay completely engaged on his game throughout his career. Michael Jordan noted that being purely wrapped up in the moment empowered him to play basketball without any inhibition. He did not worry about losing because failure existed in the future. By living in the now, Michael could drive all his energies toward greatness.
This Zen philosophy readily applies to business success as well. One leader in the financial world, Suzy Orman, follows a Zen approach. Wearer of many hats-CEO, author, speaker, TV Star-Suzy Orman has mentioned that she usually does 12 different tasks every day to help sustain her company and business empire. Poignantly, however, she stated that she focuses on only one task at a time.
Do you wonder why it is so difficult to live fully in your moments like Michael Jordan? Do you question why you can not concentrate fully on one task at a time like Suzy Orman? Does your mind easily wander during meetings or in your discussions with clients?
The answer may lie in your concentration habits. In today’s high paced world with so many techno gadgets at our disposal, it is easy to become a multi-tasker. We believe success comes from being able to do so many tasks at once. Does this sound like you at the office…..When you are on the phone, do you cruise the web, then answer some of your e-mail and perhaps even check your cellphone for your latest twitter updates?
Do you take your multi-tasking lifestyle home? Does this sound like you at home……..As soon as you arrive and your spouse begins to speak about their day, your thoughts are parked back at work and what you forgot to do. Then when your child speaks to you about their day at soccer, do you think about what your spouse just said? And what you must do this weekend to get prepared for next week at work?
We become what we practice. When you live as a multi-tasker, you are practicing being distracted.
If you practice not being fully engaged in each moment, how can you be completely focused when the situation is very important? Your mind will wander doing vital meetings as well as when you speak with key clients. When this happens, you will be less successful at work and in your life. You will never be able to live fully in each moment.
If you suffer from concentration problems, try these 3 activities:
1) Do the Dishes. The skill of being in the moment necessitates practice in everyday life. In his book. Peace is Every Step, Buddist master Thich Nhat Hanh proposes a mental exercise to develop such a skill. The next time you are washing the dishes, don’t rush through them. Immerse yourself in the moment. Feel the warm water on your hands and notice the bubbles in the water as they glow in their own magic. When we fully engage in a mundane task like doing the dishes, you will find it much easier to focus when the event is meaningful
2) Get a catchphrase. Anytime you find your mind wandering at home or at work, say a catchphrase such as “Be Here Now”. These words will first allow you to acknowledge that your focus is wandering. Your catchphrase also will act as a trigger to pull all your energy back to that moment. Overtime, and with practice, these words will help you to develop a better level of concentration in all your moments in time.
3) Savor the moment. Try this exercise with a Starburst candy. Unwrap the candy, close your eyes and then place the candy into your mouth. You will be amazed by the intensity of the flavor.
Moments in time are like eating a Starburst with your eyes closed. When we are fully engaged, the moment is that much sweeter.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a professor of human performance at Austin Peay State University. The author of the Washington Post bestselling book, “Full Throttle,” he speaks to businesses about mental and emotional toughness. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.drgreggsteinberg.com<http://www.drgreggsteinberg.com/>