What NFL Receivers Can Teach Us About the Importance of Focus

Drop ballFocus is critical to the accomplishment of any task we set our mind to.  The problem is that so few of us these days can seem to stay focused for long.  We can’t even watch a television show all the way through without surfing channels to see what else is on.  Our whole culture seems to be afflicted with ADD.  The problem exists in our businesses too.  We often hop from idea to idea and from product to product.

A longtime business friend of mine sends me a motivational or leadership book every Christmas.   This year the book was “EntreLeadership” by Dave Ramsey.  The sub-title of the book is “20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches”.  This is going to be a great read based upon the page I randomly opened the book to.  In that section of the book, Dave Ramsey was writing about the importance of focus.

He related how standing on the sidelines at an NFL rookie camp impressed upon him the speed and violence of the game and the “physical intelligence” of the players.   “Those men can do things with their bodies and a football in a nonosecond that blows your mind.”  He asked a veteran receiver “How is it that you get paid ten million dollars a year to do one thing, catch a football, and then sometimes you drop it?”

The player answered that if the ball is thrown correctly there is only one reason that the ball would not be caught: loss of focus.  He said that there are two main reasons receivers lose focus:  fear and greed. 

In their profession the fear is not the paralyzing phenomenon that we often think of as causing people to be disfunctional and quake in their boots.  They hear the footsteps of a 310 pound defender approaching them with world class speed, footsteps that signal huge amounts of pain to follow.  That causes actual fear and loss of focus.

We’ve all witnessed NFL receivers lose focus due to greed.  They take their eye off the ball, looking downfield or starting their move downfield thinking about the long gainer or a touchdown.

The same things can cause us to lose focus in our business as well as in other areas of our lives.  Instead of concentrating on success we’re thinking about all the potential for failure.  Or our greed causes us to take our eye off the good of the customer.  Greed takes us out of the moment and into a celebration of victories not yet earned.

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The author is a social entrepreneur working to end global malnutrition among children.  For more information, or if you would like to help, go to this website.

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