Focus and 5×5

By | January 14, 2017

When I was a kid visiting my grandma and grandpa’s house, the silence was palpable. It was an old farmhouse with not a lot of electronics and the only entertainment was a VHS player with some movies I found uninteresting. That kind of calm now is what so many of us need. Calm and focus.

Calm and focus. Everyone seems to be very frantic. On the one hand, I think most people fear for their jobs because it’s obvious that jobs are being disrupted in ways that are difficult to comprehend. It’s also obvious–and this is good–that there is no resting on one laurels and feeling like you can just find a spot and ride something out. On the other hand, this bullshit and incessant projection of fear from the major news media outlets is tiresome and the divide they create is disturbing. This frays the nerves and makes our distractions more addicting. These things are so stimulating!

Something in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Education of a Bodybuilder is sticking in my head: “How can you be different?” Arnold would ask himself. I know how I can be different–focus. If you don’t watch it, you have a focus of a two year old, unable to resist the urge to check Facebook or your email on your smartphone.

5×5 is simple. It’s direct. Big, powerful exercises targeting major movements with a limited number of sets and reps. It’s totally doable and it produces fantastic results which are born out of its simplicity. If you’re doing it, and continue doing it, you’ll continue to be stronger than the majority of people around you–and more capable.

It works because of its focus.

Recently we had some executive talk to us. He was diagnosed with cancer and beat and came back with this incredible focus–the ability to cast aside the bullshit and say no to a bunch of things. That’s what 5×5 is. There are a bunch of different things to do but 5×5 is simple and say no to a lot of superfluous bullshit.

It’s more difficult, I suppose, with the mental nature of the jobs that many of us have. But it’s just as critical. Like physical recovery and capability, you can only successfully sustain so many efforts and you can only direct your attention in so many ways. Like lifting heavier weights or lifting with better form, this mental ability improves but there is always your limit.

When I think of Arnold’s asking himself, “How can I be different?”, I think of my personal answer–focus. And to a greater extent, concentration. Not just focusing on a few things, but really concentrating on them when you’re doing them. I’ve said it before, buried in my hundreds of blog posts on this site: The book Red Gold by Grigori Raiport states that the success and failure of a person was not due to intelligence but to self control. And focus and concentration are huge components of self control. Self control is something that is sadly lacking today.

Analyze these statements and reflect upon this and vow to focus on what you’re doing when you’re doing it and pick only a few things to focus on and then do them well.