#16: “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand…”

“… The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

– Alexander Graham Bell

When I was very young, I remember using a magnifying glass to focus the sun’s rays and burn small holes in a piece of paper. I bet you did too.

With this idea in mind, I began to take interest in the concept that greater focus is also the source of greater achievement.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell established that it takes 10,000 hours of focused practice to achieve personal mastery.


What must you do less of (or stop altogether) in your life, so you can start or do more of other focused activities? Think about what matters to you most on your journey to personal and professional excellence.

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“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is a habit.”

Image of hands holding up letters of "Excellence"“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is a habit.”

– Socrates

Over 95% of New Years Resolutions never come to pass. Inertia keeps things much the same. When change does come, it is often from outside us … and it is often unwelcome.


Here’s a simple three-step process to bring the discipline of personal excellence into your life:

1. List two or three things you really, really desire.

2. Identify the vital behaviors that are essential to achieving these desires.

3. Engage in these behaviors every day for a minimum of three weeks. Design as many social and structure supports as you can, in order to help you stay the course.