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Focus part II: Zoning In

November 28, 2011

What we focus on will grow.

Isn’t it awesome when you watch a performance in sports, music, theater or politics where someone is truly in the zone?  Pressure or outside distractions seem to disappear as he/she flawlessly executes a play, a speech or a scene.  The truly great ones like Martin Luther King, JFK, Audrey Hepburn, Michael Jordan and Bonnie Blair were able to get “in the zone” time and time again.  So, how did they do it?

One word:  Focus.  These individuals were able to be singularly focused and thus accomplish huge things.  The axiom in life is simple:  whatever we focus on will grow.  If I focus on working out and prioritize it over other things, then my body will get into better shape.  If I focus on learning Spanish through Rosetta Stone, then I will become more fluent.  Pretty straightforward.

So, here’s the $64,000 question:  What do you focus on with your kids?  Think of the one sentence that best describes your focus with a particular child.  It could be things such as:

*John is such a disappointment to me and I am afraid he will not amount to anything.

*Sarah is a poor decision maker and cannot be trusted.

*Rick is the friendliest kid I know and a great teammate.

*Ana is smart, intuitive and a success at whatever she does.

Here’s actually a better question: Ask your older child what he/she thinks you focus on.  For younger kids, ask them what you talk about most about them.  This can be quite illuminating and a little disconcerting.  About six years ago, my daughter (7th grader at the time) proclaimed, “all you care about is how I do in sports!!!”  I weakly argued back, but deep down I knew she had a point.  Since that time, I have worked hard to focus on Sarina’s maturity and spirituality  and it has paid off in a deeper bond between us.

Remember, what we focus on will grow.  If as a father you focus on criticism and correction, you might grow a child who can perform, but also one who will most likely be insecure, resentful and negative.  If you focus on encouragement and building on strengths, you will produce children who are strong, resilient and positive.

Dads, it is up to us.  What are you going to focus on today?

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL.  Contact him at

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