focus

“Too Many Mind” or Why you feel flustered

I was watching “The Last Samurai” the other night on AMC with the movie notes (love that) and a scene stood out to me. At one point, Tom Cruise is getting his butt handed to him by a high-ranking Samurai and his host stops the sparring long enough to tell him:

Nobutada: Please forgive, too many mind.

Nathan Algren: Too many mind?

Nobutada: Hai. Mind the sword, mind the people watch, mind the enemy, too many mind… [pause] No mind.

Being present is the whole game. Existing right now, right here – with no other distractions is how excellence is born.

How are you going to make ends meet? What about the check engine light in your car? What are you going to do for dinner tonight? Relatives are coming in town and you haven’t cleaned the house – what are they going to think? Are these pants too tight? Is this shirt too big? Am I eating enough vegetables?

Stop.

Breathe.

Live here and now. Open your eyes. Quiet your mind. Too many minds, too much trouble, too little excellence.

My wife does this with our kids – she’s always present with them fully in her mind. Getting them ready to go, teaching them right from wrong, helping them – she’s always focused on them and nothing else. I admire that level of focus and dedication. Lord knows I have it when deep into a spreadsheet build, or when I’m working on this blog, or cooking – but not often when I’m with the kids.

We can focus on anything we want, regardless of how exciting or mundane it may seem. Folding laundry puts me in a deep zen state where all the swirling turmoil of life just dissipates into vapor. Laundry does that. I want it to be perfect, and beautiful and efficient. It’s not something I want to get over with, but something I want to master.

What part of your gig would be made better by eliminating some of your “mind” – losing the burden of worry that’s not serving you?

Drain. The. Swamp.

They can be a little distracting...

They can be a little distracting…

This has been a reoccurring theme for me lately. Why are you there? What is your mission? The sum total purpose for your existence in this place, at this time, is to do… what exactly? Some helpful questions to ask yourself periodically to help avoid alligators: 

  1. What am I doing here? Why am I in this position? To accomplish what?
  2. What am I uniquely positioned to do here that no one else can do?
  3. What efforts can I undertake to make the most progress towards my stated goal?

Anything else is lateral drift, mission-creep. Don’t get bogged down in the reptile wrestling of minor things: Office gossip, admin squabbles, paper cuts, petty territorial disputes, the opinions of people that don’t know any better and don’t ultimately matter.

Remember what your purpose is. Drain the damn swamp. Alligators attack? Try to use one hand to fight them off and keep one hand on draining that swamp – it’s why you’re there in the first place.

Yo Universe, I’m real happy for ya, and I’m a let ya finish…

Yo Universe, I'm real happy for ya, and I'm a let ya finish...

Am I telling Einstein to shut up?

Am I listening today? Really listening? To my team? To my managers? To my clients? To the data? To the market?

Am I so eager to make the world fit in to nice neat little boxes that I’m not actually letting it finish its sentence? Am I telling the universe “Immaletyafinish but Rob had one of the greatest ideas about sales ever”…?

I’m pretty sharp, right? I’m rarely surprised and thus I think I’m already “in the know” about most things in my comfort zone. Do I really need to wait to the end of the story before making up my mind or formulating a response?

A thousand times: YES.

What am I missing out on today because I’m not attuned to what’s happening right in front of my face? Is my swag getting so big it’s threatening to block my view of reality?

Are you listening today? Or are you hurrying to tell today what you know?