Life comes with a lot of distractions – so many that we can lose sight of our purpose amidst the great sea of demands on our time and attention. And even if we are still trying to figure out what exactly our highest purpose is, the first step towards living a life of focus is simply to remove what is unnecessary.
There is a great quote on the idea of “single mindedness” from martial artist and cultural icon Bruce Lee:
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
Doing one thing consistently is far more valuable than exploring many methods, but ultimately going nowhere! An artist can certainly learn about many subjects by taking pottery, painting, and sculpture classes all at once. Or, that same person could take a single black and white drawing class – perfecting shape and form over and over again while gaining great self-knowledge and applicable skill.
This theory is nothing new, however. Writings from philosophers such as Aristotle have hailed the principles of habit and perfection since Ancient Greece:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
In nature a single drop of water, a rainstorm, and even a crashing wave can do little to affect a heavy stone. Yet with thousands of years of persistence, water can carve canyons into the landscape.
And of course, there are Zen stories that go even further back than the ancient thinkers:
A martial arts student went to his teacher and said, “In addition to studying with you, I am considering teaching with another master, to learn more than one style.”
The teacher calmly replied, “The hunter who chases two rabbits through the woods, catches neither”.
Reflection – finding our highest purpose is a unique challenge for each of us. However, once that purpose becomes clear, our mission is then to simplify, simplify, simplify – until everything we do moves us only closer to that worthwhile goal.