Personal Energy

by Stuart Harris

Focusing attention

Your attention is worth serious money to employers, to marketers and above all to you.



Those two simple words spell it out. Your attention isn’t free. If you have any doubts about that, just try focusing for a while on something that doesn’t really interest you. In fact, just try concentrating on something that does interest you and see how long you can maintain your attention on that without your thoughts drifting away to other matters.

  • Paying attention to things that don’t matter to you is an energy expense that you can’t reclaim.
  • Paying attention to things that truly are important to you is an energy investment that yields immediate benefits and pays long-term dividends.

If intention is where you actually want to direct your mental energies, then attention is where in reality they go, moment by moment. Your attention is like a torch beam held by a restless kid. If you’ve ever had difficulty concentrating, and been distracted left, right and centre, then you already know a thing or two about attention and concentration.

Why do people have trouble concentrating?

Our animal past has a lot to answer for. Out in the wild, our ancestors had to be alert to any movement around them. They needed to be able to shift their attention fast – that rustling in the undergrowth could either be their next meal or a sabre-toothed tiger looking for supper.

And our high-tech present has a lot to answer for, too. Screens, beepers, buzzers, jingles, ring tones, posters, packaging, notice boards, banner ads, junk mail, spam – they’re all vying for your attention and they’re all using cunning ways to get it.

Then there’s the constant stream of thoughts and chatter that runs through most people’s minds most of the time – self-talk. You may not even be aware of it until you try to hold your attention on just one thing.

That combination of your wild origins, the intrusive high-tech present and the ceaseless internal babble makes it very difficult to focus your attention – to concentrate.

Next time you see an advert on the TV, bear in mind that the advertiser has invested hundreds of man hours and paid tens of thousands of pounds in the hope of catching your attention for 30 seconds!


Advertisers know that your energy flows where your attention goes.

The theory is that if they get your attention then they stand a chance of getting some of your money.

If you allow your attention to be pulled this way and that, you’re actually allowing your energy to be fragmented – you’re scattering it. And you’re leaving less energy available for the things that really matter to you.

So now it’s time to Build your concentration muscles.