How to Focus and Concentrate Better

James Clear
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Over a century ago, a lion tamer named Clyde Beatty learned a lesson that is so important that it impacts nearly every area of your life today. Keep reading to find out what a lion tamer can teach you about how to focus, concentrate better, and live a healthier life.

Clyde Beatty was born in Bainbridge, Ohio in 1903. When he was a teenager, he left home to join the circus and landed a job as a cage cleaner. In the years that followed, Beatty quickly progressed from a lowly cage boy to a popular entertainer.

Beatty became famous for his "fighting act" in which he would tame fierce wild animals. At one point, Beattyís act included a segment where he brought lions, tigers, cougars, and hyenas into the circus ring all at once and tamed the entire group.

But hereís the most impressive feat of allÖIn an era when the majority of lion tamers died in the ring, Beatty lived into his 60s. In the end, it was cancer that took his life, not a lion. How did he manage to survive? Thanks to a simple idea. Clyde Beatty was one of the first lion tamers to bring a chair into the circus ring.

The classic image of a lion tamer is one of the entertainer holding a whip and a chair. The whip gets all of the attention, but itís mostly for show. In reality, itís the chair that does the important work.

When a lion tamer holds a chair in front of the lionís face, the lion tries to focus on all four legs of the chair at the same time. With its focus divided, the lion becomes confused and is unsure about what to do next. When faced with so many options, the lion chooses to freeze and wait instead of attacking the man holding the chair.

How often do you find yourself in the same position as the lion? How often do you have something you want to achieve (i.e. lose weight, gain muscle, start a business, travel more)Öonly to end up confused by all of the options in front of you and never make progress?Ö

Anytime you find the world waving a chair in your face, remember this: all you need to do is commit to one thing. In the beginning, you donít even have to succeed.

You just need to get started. Starting before you feel ready is one of the habits of successful people.

Most of the time, the ability to get started and commit to a task is the only thing you need to do to focus better. Most people donít have trouble with focusing. They have trouble with deciding.

Have you ever had a task that you absolutely had to get done? What happened? You got it done. Maybe you procrastinated, but once you committed to doing it, you got it finished. In other words: making progressÖisnít about learning how to focus and concentrate better, itís about learning how to choose and commit to a specific task.

You have the ability to focus, you just need to choose what to direct it towards instead of acting like the lion and dividing your attention among the four legs of the chair.Ö

Want to perform like an elite athlete? Great. Quit dreaming and start living like one. Get to sleep earlier. Organize your day around your training. If you have to miss other commitments, then you have to miss them. If itís important to you, then stop gazing at the other distractions and commit to it.

Want to start a business? You can! Sure, youíll be uncomfortable. Every entrepreneur is uncertain. You donít need to learn a new strategy or figure out how to focus better. You just need to commit to making it happen. Take the first step and trust that youíll figure out how to take the second step when you need to do so.

We all have the ability to focus and concentrate, but only if we decide what is important to us and what we want to commit to accomplishing. The only wrong choice is no choice.

Life isnít a dress rehearsal. Whether you know it or not, youíre already in the ring. We all are. Most of the time, we sit quietly, gazing at the chair in front of us, silently debating about which leg is the most important.

If you have somewhere you want to go, something you want to accomplish, someone you want to becomeÖthen make a decision. If youíre clear about where you want to go, the rest of the world will either help you get there or get out of the way. Both of those are useful.

You donít have to do it all at once, but there is something that you need to do now. Something thatís calling you, something thatís important to you, something that youíre destined to do. I donít know what it is, but you do. Swipe the chair out of the way and choose it.