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How To Move from Distraction to Focused Action


Focused action fees really good.  As an entrepreneur, however, my mind is easily and painfully distracted at times.

I see opportunity in almost everything.

Without a disciplined focused mind, however, there is no follow-up, no realization of opportunities, only distraction.

Even worse, without focus, at some point the pressure of time comes crashing down – on me and my distractions.

Then there is a big price to pay for distraction.

I am keenly interested in how to better focus, how to bring my best intentions into action and results.

If you read about this ever-present phenomenon of distraction, the answer is: get clear about what is important, focus on one thing, go deep, get really good at something, and the next best thing will emerge from that.

I know this on an intellectual level, but in practice it is far more difficult to do.

This year, I’ve become more focused, clearer about my ideal clients, (entrepreneurial nonprofit leaders looking to make real positive change in their businesses and organizations) and clearer about what I am really good at (honest compassionate coaching conversations that propel leaders and their businesses to new levels).

The more I focus, the more my ideal clients show up.  Still, I want to focus more easily.

When I do focus, I realize my mind becomes much more comfortable.  It loves to focus.  It relaxes, it settles.  It remembers things, actually everything.  My mind becomes happy.

Does this happen to you when you focus?

If it feels so good, why is it so hard?  How can it be easier?  The answers start with observation.

When I’m not focusing:

  • I sit down at my desk and there is a quiet little voice that says maybe I am going to miss something if I don’t…. take that phone call, open that email, answer that text, follow that link, open that envelope.  My mind is wired to react.
  • I find myself all over the place after taking any one of the actions described above.  My mind hurts.  As I become more sensitive with age, these actions literally cause a little depression.  Maybe some part of me knows I have less time now and I am wasting it by not doing what it is most important.

Thanks to good coaching, I have a practice of setting my priorities for the week and the day. I write them down every Sunday evening, Monday morning at the latest, before my call with an accountability partner.  When I find myself in this slightly depressed and distracted state, I literally coach myself back to my priorities.  I notice this act is hard. It is painful.

Once I am focused, I am happy, really happy.

So, why can’t I just say focused?  What can help?

Carey Smith, founder, of the Center for Embodied Teacher Education recently reintroduced me to the 31 Jo Kata.

Its origins are in the martial art practice of aikido and it involves a staff or long stick and precise movements requiring grounding, centering, balance and spatial awareness. To get a quick sense of the practice check out this short video.


This practice requires focus, but the beauty is that it does not require thought.  We have practiced it enough that my body actually knows how to do the movements without thinking about it.

Still, when I don’t focus, I can’t do it.

Cary Smith and Teri Beckman
Cary Smith and myself after a day of great learning.

What am I learning here?

My mind does not perform at its best when I’m not focused and it really helps if the body is part of learning to focus.

Movement helps this.  Focused movement.

I am practicing the Jo Kata every day.

Then, when I sit down at my desk, I practice Fully FocusingClick here for an audio recording of this practice.

A better day becomes assured.

Do you have a body practice for yourself that requires intentional focus?  What other things help you focus?  Please share.  Let’s help each other on the journey to strong intentional focus.

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