Monthly Archives: December 2015

Where is your focus?


I love having conversations.

It doesn’t matter with whom I’m speaking as long as at the end of the conversation…I feel better than I did when I started. Also, regarding “having a conversation”, I’m not referring to the “mindless chatter” that we all engage in every day. I’m talking about face to face, no cell phones, no time limit, no disruption types of conversations. It’s also a bonus if it includes an ice-cold beer or a great glass of wine!

However, what I’ve discovered is that these types of conversations are happening less and less. I hate to say it…but they are about as rare as an Indian head nickel.

Why is that?

I believe one of the reasons has to do with the distractions of the cell phone. I hate competing with a cell phone…and I usually lose that battle. It seems that the person on the other end of that electronic device is more important than me and as a result, I simply “flip the switch” in my mind and acquiesce the attention.

But I think the other reason “good conversations” are so rare is because what we choose to discuss. I believe there are three areas where our conversations tend to focus…the past, the present or the future.

Conversations that are primarily about past events are called, “rear view mirror” conversations. They are focused on what someone did, or what happened. I dislike these for several reasons:

  1. One person does all the complaining (I mean talking).
  2. The person goes into all types of specifics that describe a series of events that can’t be changed or improved.
  3. They recount endless examples of shame, disappointment and loss.
  4. I feel exhausted afterward.

Inversely, conversations that are focused primarily on peering into the future are dominated by taking something that has not yet happened and talking about it as it already has. I dislike these as well for similar reasons:

  1. They are marked with fear, feelings of “what if”, powerlessness and uncertainty.
  2. Again, one person does most of the talking and only wants you to validate their fears, actions or choices.
  3. Future conversations are created and rehearsed; future dreams are challenged and rationalized as being not worth the pursuit and future fears are inflated to epic proportion.
  4. I feel frustrated afterward.

However, conversations that are focused primarily on the present are much more enjoyable for me. I like them for several reasons:

  1. They are focused on what people are “doing.” Doing is much more interesting that “did” and doing is more useful than “what if.”
  2. I love to hear what people are actually “doing.” Because they can relate what they are learning and what they are experiencing and I can usually learn something as well.
  3. Conversations that are centered on these subjects are engaging and energizing and are fun to share! I wish we had more of these!

So the next time you’re feeling exhausted…ask yourself how much time you have spent that day “looking in the rearview mirror.” Likewise, the next time your feel anxious or worried…ask yourself how much time you’ve spent living in the future.

Challenge yourself to stay in the present. Keep your focus here…and believe me…your friends will thank you for it!

Check this out if you don’t believe me!