Concentrate…

K cutting fabric to make a pillow

The thing that strikes me most when watching my kids sew is how fiercely they concentrate on their task. It is almost as if they curl inwards upon themselves and nothing exists save their hands, the fabric, and the needle. Everything they have is thrown into the job at hand, nothing spared. It’s a rare and precious thing, the intensity that comes with being truly in the moment.

It isn’t often that you see adults working on a task with that same level of intensity. We pride ourselves on being able to multitask, on being able to scan emails and answer the phone too, on being able to keep one ear open for the kids playing in the other room. It’s a shame, really, that we believe multitasking is something to be proud of. We’ve forgotten the value of pursuing a task with that single-minded intensity.

True learning happens when something strikes us with that sort of intensity. When we find ourselves lost in it, absorbed by it, consumed by needing to master it… that is when we learn the best. And the easiest — nothing is easier to learn than something you care desperately about. You lose out on that ease of learning when you aren’t grabbed by the subject at hand.

B threading the needle

Teachers know this. Parents know this. Everyone knows this at a gut level, if not consciously.

And yet, we rarely act on this knowledge. We ignore the fact that, when you find something that you care about intensely, when you find something you are passionate about and let yourself be consumed by it, you tend to become really, really good at it. We’ve abandoned the ability to take pride in a job really, really well done in favour of being able to do lots of jobs adequately. And somewhere in there, we’ve forgotten what it feels like to throw ourselves into a task with every ounce of our being. To be passionately involved in something. To do something, one thing, with intensity of purpose and single-minded dedication.

How awesome would our world be if we all approached our work lives with the same intensity of focus that my kids have shown sewing this week? Or if we approached our parenting that way?

So, I dare you. Go be passionately focussed on something this week. Get involved. Get intensely involved in a project. Throw every single breath of air and thought into it, even if only for ten minutes.

And then do it again, tomorrow.

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