What you focus on expands

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a real estate training seminar put on by Ninja Selling. To be fair, I shouldn’t call it a seminar. As they say, it’s an installation.

I learned a lot that week. Most of it had very little to do with real estate. Instead, I learned a lot about managing one’s self, setting and achieving goals, and becoming an overall better person.

The most important lesson I learned that week was a statement the instructor kept coming back to over and over again – “What you focus on expands.” It resonated, it stuck with me, and I keep seeing examples of it everywhere around me.

In business terms, they say you get what you measure. If revenue is the most important measure, your decisions will be focused on increasing sales. If expenses are the most important, decisions are made around cutting costs. If customer satisfaction is the primary measure, then the focus is on customer satisfaction. If you want (or need) more examples, check out this post by Seth Godin.

The same is true in our personal lives. Whatever we choose to focus on becomes what we spend our time on. We see examples of it everywhere. We talk about it with our friends and family. We read more about it. We watch more about it.

What you focus on expands.

So, is what we focus on expands a good thing or a bad thing? In my opinion, it depends.

Given all of our media options these days between television and the internet, it’s easy to expand one’s focus. There are so many specialized websites, television shows and books that you can easily find your self focusing on topics at the exclusion of any dissenting opinions. As I’ve said before, the internet can turn into one big echo chamber. The rabbit holes are deep. Once you fall into one, it can be hard to get out.

So what’s the answer? Well, I’d recommend two things to be careful on when you decide to make something, anything, your focus.

First of all, make sure that the outcome of the focus is positive. Generally speaking, it means that you are focused on an outcome that is bigger than yourself. There should be a general benefit to those around you, and society at large, in what you choose to focus on. When you choose to focus solely on what’s best for you, especially when it is at the expense of others, then you run the risk of doing things that are bad for the hive.

Second, come up for air every once and a while. Entertain differing and dissenting opinions. Listen. Engage them constructively to confirm that what you are focused on is the “right” thing. Remember that media, especially the internet and social media sites, will reinforce your opinions and perceptions. If you’re not careful, what you focus on can make you one-sided and intolerant of others’ opinions. Instead of being how we share, grow and unite with others, the internet can have the opposite effect – dividing us and putting against others, some of whom are our friends and family.

What you focus on expands.

It’s a powerful statement, a powerful force of nature, and a truth. Therefore, it’s our job, our duty, to make sure that what we choose to focus on is the right thing. When this truth is applied properly and used for good, it can have a profound impact on both your life and the lives of those around you.