Where is your focus?

As many of you know, I am a Food Network junkie and have no plans to join a 12 step group to kick my addiction. A friend of mine and I were discussing some of our favorite and least favorite shows, especially the competition ones. What we realized is that there is one ingredient, which we have seen several cheftestants use, which regardless of the show seems to get them eliminated and losing. This ingredient is the opposite of an ingredient I discussed a few weeks ago in my blog on humility.

This ingredient is cockiness. Ironically, it is those who you hear complain about the quality of the ingredients and how they are beneath them or who, like on Beat Bobby Flay, are overly cocky about their ability to beat him that they are not able to execute properly the very dish they have spent years perfecting. This tendency to focus on the prize and not the process is one that has been discussed for years. It applies to everything from cooking to learning to competitive sports. It is a lesson that I always associate with a poem called The Archer by Lao Tsu.

When an archer is shooting for nothing he has all his skill. 
If he shoots for a brass buckle he is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold
he goes blind
or sees two targets
- he is out of his mind!

His skill has not changed. But the prize
divides him. He cares. 
He thinks more of winning than of shooting 
and the need to win 
drains him of power.

There is so much focus in our world on winning the prize, beating the competitor, that sometimes we lose our focus on the process and the preparation. It is, as Lao Tsu suggests, not that one loses ones skill, but when our focus is divided not on what we are doing, but on winning that we divide our focus and lose our power.

When we focus all of our energy on what we are doing, it enhances our abilities to achieve our goals, not because of our focus on the prize, but our focus on the process.  When we think more about the process then the winning, we maintain our power and our focus. May we all remember to stay focused and maintain clear vision in all that we do.