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  1. 1. ConcentrationThe jack-of-all-trades seldom is good at any. Concentrate all of your efforts on onedefinite chief aim. - Napoleon Hill A worried mother complains that her young rambunctious son spend hours everyday on his Playstation or Xbox. This issue is a hot potato for any parent. Youngchildren can get so immersed in whatever they are doing that it takes a lot ofcoaxing to get them to shift their attention. This power to concentrate fully on onething comes naturally to young children, but it is one of the biggest challenges thatmost of us confront as adults. We struggle to concentrate and, as a result, fail tomake any progress in the work we are performing.Let me give a razor-sharp definition of “concentration.” Concentration is theability to focus on one single thought or subject to the exclusion of everything else.For example, when I am reading Peter Jackson’s book Africa—part travelog, partmemoir—or for that matter any book, I am not thinking, looking at, or listening toanything else. The quality and quantity of the work you can produce depends notonly on the effort you put in but also on your ability to concentrate. No matter howhard you try, if your brain is not performing well, you will not be as productive asyou should be.Man is gifted with an organized mind. Concentration is its mainstay. Compare thisto a monkey—it has an unorganized mind, as it has no concentration.There are people who are immune to noisy surroundings (they know how to avoidextraneous factors). They have disciplined minds that enable them to focusintensely on the task at hand, and they perform exceptionally well as a result.Modern psychologists refer to this state of absolute absorption in or concentrationon what we are doing as being “in the flow.” John Bright (British Radical andLiberal statesman) was so completely absorbed in the subject of a forthcomingspeech that he thought about it day and night, talked it over with his friends, andwhen no one else was available, discussed it with his gardener. On the other hand,there are people who have little or no concentration at all. They cannot handle theslightest noise. They are easily distracted at the drop of a hat.
  2. 2. Albert Einstein hardly ever needed a pencil and paper when solving mathematicalproblems at first. His concentration was so good that he could work out hisproblems in his head, and only later would he commit them to paper. The samecould be said about my science fiction writer friend. He would sit writing pageafter page, turning each page neatly face down as he finished it. He never mindedchildren playing around him while he worked, and once as I watched infascination, he did not even notice a wasp circling his head. Research reveals that those who go for a walk to clear the cobwebs awayimprove their concentration vastly by changing their brain structure. Through briskwalking, people can undergo a change, improving their attention compared withthose who are lethargic. Concentration is the primordial element for extraordinary memoryDo you have difficulty remembering the names of people, or have you missed adoctor’s appointment, forgotten telephone numbers, missed events and specialoccasions, and failed to recall dates and times? The reason why people cannotremember what they want to remember is that they do not concentrate sufficientlyat the moment when they are forming a purpose.Golden advice is the following: Associate new information with something youalready know or can remember.Example: (a) Suppose you want to remember phone numbers (which occur inpairs). You could split 5266 into 52 and 66, and think of the 52 cards in a deckprinted with pictures of England’s footballers winning the World Cup in 1966. (b) Suppose you want to remember the names of people. You can analyze thephysical appearance and idiosyncrasies of a person. For instance, Sync may be amiddle-aged person but might have the mind of an amoeba, a “quo vadis” haircut,a lumpy face overgrown with stubble, might walk with a slow, stiff gait, stammerwhen speaking, and have feminine hands and cavernous cheeks.Memories are created, stored, and recalled in the part of the brain known as thehippocampus.
  3. 3. Eleanor Maguire used brain scans to show that a region of brain at the rear of thehippocampus known to be involved in learning directions and locations is enlargedin London taxi drivers. My chat cronyCharlotte had to cover a long distance to reach the top of the chocolate industry.Charlotte dropped out of ninth grade in Harbor City, Los Angeles, and took anapprenticeship with a printer, only to be fired. She then became an apprentice to acandymaker in Oregon. After studying the business for four years, Charlotteopened a company that gained a foothold in the chocolate market. She started threesuccessful candy companies in Indianapolis, San Antonio, and Seattle. She wentfrom being a person with no money a few years earlier to becoming super rich witha huge cash flow (paying six figures for a diamond-and-sapphire brooch or a sablewrap. In Paris, she shops in the finest boutiques on the famous avenue, theChamps-Élysées.). Presently, she is proud of her multimillion-dollar chocolatebusiness. She has also written her autobiography, launched her own perfume, andappeared on television shows, including “Celebrity Wife Swap” and “CelebrityStars in Their Eyes.” Along with her success came a big headache in the form ofswarms of reporters who keep hounding her to hear sound bytes. Remarkable hypeand hoopla for a deserving self-made woman!The above circumstances were possible not because of any serendipity but ratherbecause she concentrated on forming growth-centric habits. She believed in thesaying, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Who all need to concentrate?The ice skater, drag racer, stock car racer, environmental scientist, financialanalyst, physical therapist, video editor, bacteriologist, pushcart vendor, janitor in atenement building, spin doctor…without any attempt to beat around the bush,concentration is the rudimentary component for any type of profession.Concentrate more to reach the pinnacle of your life.Do not be like the debonair management consultant who turned up at 11 a.m. onthe dot (to speak to an auditorium full of insurance executives in Hawaii) with acut on his face. He announced in his sonorous voice that, “While shaving thismorning, I was concentrating on my speech and accidentally cut myself—tsk tsk!”
  4. 4. At the reception following the 80-minute address, a member of the audience said ina hushed tone, “Next time, concentrate on your shaving and cut down the speech!” Mystical teacher Salvatore was a modern minstrel with a gentle wit, a sensitive singing voice, and wicked guitar skills. He loved eating squid and crustaceans. He lived in a forlorn corrugated iron shanty with a sandy floor. But the biggest worry of Salvatore’s life was when and how to give his “attention” span (a necessary overture for mental concentration) a boost? Desperately seeking a solution, he got into his car and drove downtown to meet a well-known mystical teacher. The entire meeting was productive, as the mystical teacher said “yes” to Salvatore. In the initial stages of teaching, the mystical teacher would order (not in a harsh manner) Salvatore to observe some familiar object and to attempt to find the maximum details in the object. Then, after scrutinizing the report that Salvatore prepared, the mystical teacher would ask him to return to the same task so as to find new details until the smallest of the details had been observed. The next day, a fresh object would be given to him, and he would be made to undergo the whole process yet again. To begin with, he was given simple objects, and then more complex objects, until finally he could easily master objects of immense complexity. Today, Salvatore is able to exert the greatest amount of mental concentration while scarcely being conscious of the effort. The great Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.” One-track mind “Success in life is a matter not so much of talent and opportunity as of concentration and perseverance.” - C. W. WendteGrayson is head honcho of a music company. His company promotes internationalmusic festivals and tours for artists such as Coldplay, Nickelback, and the JonasBrothers, among many others. His music company also develops strategies tostimulate ticket sales for concerts at the venues it owns or operates in NorthAmerica.
  5. 5. Once Grayson, who always prefers to wear a Breitling watch and a black bomberjacket with logos, was invited to appear on “The Tonight Show.” He was asked toreveal the secret to his successful rise in life. Here he goes… “I do not have a genius IQ. In fact, I am like the 70% of the population who are in the 85–115 IQ range. It does not matter. I do not possess any more talent than others, but I have learned that results can only be produced by untiring, concentrated effort. I have always believed in a one-track mind, to be “the best” in my field. I ate, breathed, and slept success. My work gave me a kick. No wonder that I often enjoyed working till midnight and went to sleep in my plush office. I am like a postage stamp; I stick to one thing at a time.” A few years ago, I had a difficult time as I spent the whole weekend slogging through a report and still hadn’t finished reading it (I became aware that I needed serious tips on concentration). Without wasting any time, I consulted my maternal grandfather, who preached and practiced “the art of concentration” throughout his life. His excellent memory, which allows him to recall any complex conversation verbatim, is because of his superior skills of concentration. Quoting an example, he says, an engine is going along the track smoothly until someone opens all the valves and, wham, the train stops. The same theory applies to you. If you want to use your full amount of steam, you must close your valves and direct your power to generate mental steam toward one end. Concentration problem Bryant, a licensed teacher, moonlighted as a part-time writer in the evenings to make quick megabucks. He decided to churn out four books in 16 months, with human cloning as the common theme. So he jump-started his writing with great enthusiasm. However, with the passage of time, his thoughts appeared scattered, his vision became cloudy, and he suffered from the feeling that he was in a labyrinth. To make matters worse, he hopped from the writing of one book to another book within half an hour. On being asked about his odd tendency to switch from one task to another, he shot back, “I get bored quickly. Concentration is not my métier. That is why I always only manage to give a mediocre performance at work.” Three years slipped away, and his time-bound project of writing four books in 16 months never gathered
  6. 6. momentum. Feeling frustrated, he dumped the idea of continuing to write.This experience wrecked his confidence levels, and he paid a high price forhis poor concentration.A lack of concentration and mastery over one’s thoughts usually can becompared to piercing a thin sheet paper with a blunt pencil. Sticking a bluntpencil through a sheet of paper will turn out to be difficult, and the paper willonly tear. On the other hand, if the pencil is sharp, the point will penetrate thesheet of paper easily, leaving a small, neat hole.