Something happened to me last week which shocked me, set me back and disoriented me. I won’t go into detail other than to say I hope it doesn’t happen to me again – ever! But what it did mean was I now had to focus and concentrate in the days ahead because of my responsibility to others, including my family, colleagues, organisation and the people I support.
During my participation in athletics in the 1980/90s, I modelled my levels of concentration on other athletes such as Sally Gunnell, Seb Coe and Steve Cram, closely watching them prior to races as they physically and mentally prepared for their next winning performance and taking the best bits to build my own model of concentration and focus.
Now I have someone else who is much closer to me who is my own gold winning performer, who when it comes to focus and concentration, truly raises the bar for me to emulate. This is Bettina, my youngest daughter, who copes with Autism and a Learning Disability.
Observing Bettina sitting crossed legged on our sitting room floor, staring at six jigsaws she was just about to complete, I could see her methods of concentration and focus:
- Getting her game face on – a look that I recognise that says that mentally she is getting into her positive mind-set.
- I could almost hear her brain ticking as she made her plan and what her priorities were going to be
- Her body language (and her facial expression) is clear and open. She did not want to be disturbed until she had finished.
- She repeats a mantra to her herself. She does this often and I believe it helps her concentration and keeps her focused
- Bettina brings all her thoughts to bear on the activity, fixing her attention and efforts on the jigsaws and not allowing anything to distract her until she has fulfilled her objective
It might be because of her autism coping mechanisms that Bettina is able to filter out the noises that surround her. Bettina has always been sensitive to sounds such as telephones ringing, PA systems in supermarkets and people coughing, so she is well practised in doing this. As parents we always believe it is inspiring how Bettina, with courage and determination, confronts this over- stimulation by creating these mechanisms which are personal to her. She needs to do this every minute of her day, not just when she is doing six jigsaws.
So now I have to maintain my own focus and concentration after my recent disaster, so I can carry on doing my very best for those around me using Bettina’s Five tactics of Concentration and Focus:
- Adjust my thinking so I have a clear image of what I need to achieve
- Only allow positive thoughts to enter into my mind
- Not to digress – one job at a time
- Planning ahead – look forwards not backwards
- Come up with my own mantra that I repeat to myself as I work through each task
If you are a regular reader of my ‘Being Bettina’s Dad’ series you will already know she is amazing. Within the hour Bettina had taken a quick look at the pictures on the jigsaw box and then turned the lids over. She quickly set about putting all the pieces of her jigsaws together, then stood to admire the pictures and her work and announced to the room “I’ve Done It!” What a star!
For more examples of how Bettina transforms my life with her focus and concentration I recommend this article from me:
Being Bettina’s Dad: Transforming my life with Mindfulness