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It’s Time to Re-Focus

March 19, 20242 min read

Little Jimmy is a very energetic 6 year old in our beginner Karate class, always smiling, great attitude, and very kind kid. He’s always happy to be in class and I love having him there training. However, poor Jimmy gets distracted so easily. I don’t know if he’s daydreaming, or if his attention is simply overtaken by something else around him. The student next to him, the lights on the ceiling, the mirror, how one side of the belt is longer than the other, etc. etc.

People often wonder why some children are unable to focus, they have so much energy, but it seems like it goes everywhere and nowhere. I think that we could look at ourselves for the answer. Some time ago some great minds came up with the idea of multitasking, you hire one employee that can do the work of three at the same time! Brilliant, we thought, and we all bought into it. I remember having “ability to multitask” written on my resume.

The fact is that not only did the quality of our work decrease, but also we lost our ability to focus solely on a single task. We thought we could do many things at once, but instead, our attention span took a huge dive. Even now, sometimes I find myself working on one thing, only to  get derailed by a phone alert, a knock at the door, or even a passing thought about something I forgot to do yesterday. Twenty minutes later, I forgot what I was doing to begin with.

When I asked my karate class if they sometimes get distracted, many of them shook their heads and said, ‘no’, as if getting distracted was a terrible thing. But a couple of them said ‘yes’, and I agreed and told them that we all get distracted, it is normal. Let’s say we’re doing some high kicks and the student next to you slips and drops to the ground with a loud noise. Of course it will be distracting to your training, but after helping him up and making sure he’s okay, what we need to do is RE-FOCUS. Distractions are going to happen, guaranteed, but if we are aware of them, we have the ability to say, “don’t get distracted, it’s time to refocus”. When we do that repeatedly, it will become a habit, and our ability to focus will increase exponentially.

As for Jimmy, he still gets distracted here and there, but he’s starting to learn to refocus. His dad told me recently that his teacher at school noticed great improvement in the quality of his work, and his attention in class has gotten better. He’s even helping other students to be more focused. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I’d like to think that we are laying the foundations, one student at a time, one day at a time.

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