The Awesome Power of Focus vs the Awful Consequences of Lack of Focus

Karl WallendaIt has often been said that we consciously use only 8-10% of the power of our mind every day. If that is the case, then 90% of the most powerful resource we have may be going untapped, or at least, underutilised. Here is a tragic story I read many years ago of the misuse of focus when it mattered most…

During 1978, the great Karl Wallenda, patriarch of one of history’s greatest tightrope walking families was booked to do a series of breathtaking solo walks on a high wire stretched 120 feet above the ground between two hotels in San Juan. Halfway across the cable, Wallenda suddenly lost his balance, plunged to the ground and was killed instantly.

When the media and his family later analysed what had happened, they discovered that Karl Wallenda had been focusing this time on the one thing that he wanted to avoid at all costs – not falling.

As his widow explained later… “All Karl seemed to put his energies and focus on this one time was not falling, rather than successfully and safely reaching the other end of the tightrope. He even went to great pains to personally supervise the installation of the tightrope guy wires – something he had never concerned himself with ever before.”

In the past, his sole focus had been on reaching the other side safely and from that perspective, he had total trust and faith in his rigging team. The telling point about this story was that this particular walk was Karl’s planned finale before he retired and as a result his many years of total focus and concentration on the job was being deflected on to other things when it mattered most.

This story provides a tragic example of misusing the combined power of the conscious and unconscious mind which, when the focus is deflected in this way, can pull you towards an outcome that may be the exact opposite of what you want. It is no different to getting bogged down in ‘solving the problem’ and focusing all of your energies on this result, rather than re-focusing on what your original goal or outcome was in the first place and allowing things to unfold as you progress. Just think of our combined governments’ “wars on terrorism” and “wars on drugs” and “wars on cancer.” Have we seen a reduction of any of these three major problems of our time or an increase over the past 20 or so years? Maybe our combined focus has been in the wrong direction? I’ll leave you to ponder on that one.

Often through having an outcome-directed approach you will find that problems dissolve or you will discover other ways to go around them because of your flexibility and your resilience and your total focus on the objective that you have ahead of you. There is much more I would like to share with you on this topic of the power of focus and combining all of the energy and power that you have within your mind, but for now I will just leave you with the thought that all of our most influential leaders over the generations who have been able to achieve their amazing results, have had just two things in common – focus and persistence. Think of Ghandi, or Churchill, or Mother Teresa or Abe Lincoln to name just a few.

Focus and Persistence

This is no different to being able to harness the energy of the sun with the use of a magnifying glass. Focus allows you to burn a hole in paper, and holding that same focus longer allows you to burn a hole in wood. If you consider all of that amazing energy and power your mind has, imagine too that your life can be the magnifying glass for your accomplishments through those same two applications – Focus and Persistence.

I will share more insights about this in future articles.

In the meantime, here is an amazing You Tube example of exactly what I am talking about. Trust me it is well worth your investment of  five minutes to watch the video. Enjoy!

Drop me an email to if you would like to know more about how to harnessing the awesome power of focus in the work you do.

Until then… Let’s seek to understand more and judge less.  Have a great week – Brian

Precision Profiling What Makes You Tick?  Through ‘Motivational Fingerprinting’ we uncover what you do, how you do it and why you do it, and most importantly, the hidden patterns that lead to your success, and that of your team.

About Brian Clark

Brian Clark is the principal director of Precision Profiling®.

He is a renowned practitioner, writer and speaker on building total customer cultures; values driven leadership and world best practice strategy and implementation.

He has been a guest lecturer on world best practice for the executive management programme at Monash University’s business college (Mt Eliza campus); an adviser to and key note speaker for the Singapore Productivity Association and a consultant to many major Australian and overseas corporations and government departments.

Read more about Brian Clark Here


  1. Joshua Hart says:

    Hi Brian,

    I love the article and have drawn a lot from what you’ve shared here.

    Focus and Persistence are the two elements we need in maintaining track of and achieving our goals, this principle can be applied in every level of life, thank you for saying it in a way that’s made it even more clear for me.

    I play and coach a game called pool, right now I have two young fellas I coach one of which is the State Champion and the other is the Runner Up State Champion in the respective age groups. I have been teaching Focus and Persistence among a lot of other things regarding the power of the mind, oneness, remaining in the present etc, but I find that the more perspectives I can see through the more the understanding of these two principles and more become clearer.

    So I guess I’d like to hear more of your perspective on the topic and maybe the core principles and more in particular the experiences that you’ve had that has helped you understand the topic. I respect your calibre and so I ask if you could be direct and to the point on those things that have helped you to “stay in the moment” and to strengthen the ability your mind has to focus – i.e. build strong enough walls in your mind to contain and maintain focus – and be persistent in completing the tasks at hand.

    I would like to know more about this for myself both personally and professionally so I can impart this knowledge to others, especially to my students.

    Kind Regards,


    • Hi Joshua

      Thank you for your kind words and your interest. In future blogs I will consider other topics that touch on this subject as a mental reminder for me. In the meantime I would recommend anything you can read on the topic of Sports Psychology (including autobiographies written by successful sports people such as golfers; tennis players etc). They all are instructive on the concept of using mental triggers to focus on the next moment in present time and not the previous moment at the exclusion of all other things such as external distractions and internal chatter (eg the next ball to be served/hit or whatever). It is a highly tuned level of focus and mental compartmentalisation. There was a book written many years ago by Rudi Webster which I seem to recall was titled “Winning Ways.” He was the sports psychologist who worked with the world beating internationally successful West Indies cricket team back in the eighties. I found that interesting at the time. However there is no shortage of information written about this. Good luck with it all. Brian

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