Week 18: Learning, attention, power

To learn, according to Dictionary.com, is:

to acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience.

This week I entered the first cohort of a Jewish leadership training class. Before the course started, facilitators asked us to find our Top 5 CliftonStrengths (formerly “StrengthsFinder”).

My five are strategic, learner, analytical, achiever and deliberative.

For a learner, the subject matter isn’t particularly important. The process of learning is.

Lo and behold, the acquisition of knowledge — AKA power — is important in the Master Key process. From the Haanel:

18-30.  The use of this power depends upon attention; the degree of attention determines our capacity for the acquirement of knowledge which is another name for power.

18-31.  Attention has been held to be the distinguishing mark of genius. The cultivation of attention depends upon practice.

18-32.  The incentive of attention is interest. The greater the interest, the greater the attention; the greater the attention, the greater the interest, action, and reaction. Begin by paying attention; before long you will have aroused interest; this interest will attract more attention; and this attention will produce more interest, and so on. This practice will enable you to cultivate the power of attention.

In case you need a little reminder about the differences (and similarities) between concentration and focus, here’s what I wrote two weeks ago.

Now, superimpose these two collections of knowledge. Find your focus, concentrate on it, learn more about it, give more attention to it, gain more power. BOOM.


This week’s virtue: Courage (Week 17 HJ)

I was going to sit here and write about this lack of focus that I’m dealing with right now, but (a) it’s a little bit because of all the pasta I’ve eaten in the past 24 hours (wheat brain!) and (b) we just did focus last week.

Onto something new.

My virtue this week is courage, and I have opportunities.

Just today I made two phone calls that, two years ago, I would have put off for weeks. It doesn’t matter what they were. I made them. I was assertive. I was rewarded (intrinsically).

When we started our MKE journey, I put my podcast on hold so that I could dedicate the time and energy to the Master Keys. But accountability in other parts of my life has fallen off. I’ve stopped doing some of the work on myself that’s important to me.

So this week I’m going to kick the podcast back into life, asking listeners to let me come back into their ears three months early. Not the easiest thing to do, but this time we’re coming back with vulnerability and honesty instead of forcing a new episode every week just because I said I would, at the cost of quality.


Week 17: Concentration and focus (talking DMPs)

Today, we interviewed a young lady named Awilda Rivera for a podcast (that’s not the royal we; Kelvin does the show with me).

If you look at her website, you’ll see that she is a spiritual adviser, success coach, yoga instructor, reiki practitioner and certification-awarder, and she performs weddings, too.

That might sound like a lot — it did to us, too — but to her it all comes down to focusing on exactly how she wants to help people, and she can explain it in right around five seconds.

We were astonished. We’re taught that in order to really succeed, we should focus on one thing.

But, we were also reminded of this week’s lesson from Haanel (17-11):

Concentration does not mean mere thinking of thoughts, but the transmutation of these thoughts into practical values[.]

I decided to dig a little deeper, so I pulled out my trusty dictionary. Concentration means

exclusive attention to one object; close mental application.

Focus, on the other hand, means

a central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity.

So Awilda has a focus. All the things she does lead her to that one central place. And when she’s doing work toward that focus, it’s concentrated work.

That’s like our DMPs, right? We want lots of things, but when it call comes down to it, we get a one-sentence shot at our focus. Here’s mine:

I make a better world by helping people become happier, healthier, kinder and more productive.

I could probably take the productive bit out, since that follows from healthier and contributes to happier, but I like the ring of it.

All of that encompasses a whole bunch of things. Diet, exercise, sleep, volunteerism, research, lifelong learning, meditation, making lists…ellipses…But it all does have a narrow focus, something I can concentrate on, as our exercise this week tells us:

33.  For your exercise this week concentrate as nearly as possible in accordance with the method outlined in this lesson. [Snip]

34.  If you wish to eliminate fear, then concentrate on courage.

35.  If you wish to eliminate lack, then concentrate on abundance.

36.  If you wish to eliminate disease, then concentrate on health.

37.  Always concentrate on the ideal as an already existing fact.[Snip]

Be what you will to be!

Week 16: Discipline and motivation

Yeah, I know. I wrote about discipline in Week 5. But I heard something today that brought it back to the forefront for me.

I was out for a run — my first outdoor excursion in a couple of weeks since coastal Georgia had its longest cold snap and first accumulated snow in 30 years over the past week and a half — listening to the Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual.

One of the chapters is on motivation.

“Don’t count on motivation,” author Jocko Willink says. “Count on discipline.”

This was certainly one of those days that I understood exactly what he meant.

I recognized last week that I haven’t been taking my own medicine lately. Yesterday, the cold snap finally broke, and most of the ice and snow were off the streets (with a winter storm every few decades, the city and county don’t bother keeping a salt or sand store, so we’re basically at the mercy of the weather to take care of the wet stuff). I went to the gym, got in a workout, and played racquetball with some friends for a couple of hours.

This morning, my training calendar said I was due for a four-mile run. My body was really unhappy with that prospect after yesterday’s overindulgence in exercise.

No matter. It had been 16 days since my last outdoor run, so I was going, come hell or high water.

When the motivation isn’t there, I go because the calendar says I’m supposed to go.

The same, of course, goes for anything, including our readings, our blogging, our kindness postings.

Not motivated to write? To do something kind? To read Haanel? To tell people you did something kind? Do it anyway. Use the discipline we’ve learned practicing every day. Don’t wait for motivation to show up. Sometimes it doesn’t.


Course talk: Recognition of readiness

I decided I’m not ready to create a course yet.

Here’s why: I’m not doing enough in the way of taking my own advice.

I can certainly teach people what I know, but as CDBaby founder Derek Sivers says, “If more information were the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”

Notice that I’m not a billionaire with perfect abs. I could be with the knowledge in my head, but I’m not.

I don’t think I need to be all the way there to launch a class, but I should be certainly a lot farther along that road than I am.

So, time to buckle down, do for myself, and get ready for a course either in the fall or the spring.

For now, time to do the work.

Week 15: What will you give up?

Above my desk is a painting of a W.E.B. du Bois quote. It says, “The most important thing to remember is this: To be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.”

It immediately popped into my mind when reading 15-5 in Haanel.<blockquote cite><em>We cannot obtain what we lack if we tenaciously cling to what we have. We are able to consciously control our conditions as we come to sense the purpose of what we attract, and are able to extract from each experience only what we require for our further growth. Our ability to do this determines the degree of harmony or happiness we attain.</em></blockquote>

There’s probably not much else to say at this point &mdash; is the old blueprint gone yet? Are we moving forward? Have we shed what we need to shed, or are we at least willing to?