If I suggested that using one word followed by a few others might improve communication ten-fold would I get your attention? What if I suggested that this one word can increase obedience? Efficiency? Success? Personal peace and satisfaction? Who wouldn’t want to use this one word?

When I work out with Linda, my trainer at One on One Fitness, she has me do a variety of things. We use free weights and lots of equipment. She has me throw balls and, believe me, it’s nothing like what you might remember from your playground days. We use ropes, but not to jump with, and we use flexible bands, too. Linda also insists that I ride the bike, walk on the treadmill, and use the elliptical. Cardio!

One piece of equipment can benefit me in many different ways. It depends on which apparatus Linda attaches to the machine and the grip she assigns. I might be working biceps, triceps, or my back. She might have me use free weights to work biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, or back. You get the idea.

After a few reps, Linda often says “focus on your back” or “focus on your biceps.” “Focus” is the one special word. I’m enthused about the difference it makes.

When I hear, “Focus on your back” I immediately feel the muscles there more than I had. Until then, I was working out and benefiting. But, as soon as Linda tells me the main reason I’m doing an exercise, I can focus. It matters! I now benefit more.  Hearing “focus” helps me focus.

Today I used the sled. This, too, is nothing like you remember from childhood. A winter ride down a steep hill in the middle of a snowy winter would have been easier. Linda positioned my feet in two different ways to affect my muscles differently. I was amazed at the difference 10 inches made. Then, to add to that, when she said “push through your heels” it changed my focus. Direct instruction matters. The word “focus” helps us provide that.

So, this summer, rather than seeing your son in his room and only declaring, “Remember, I expect this cleaned up today” what if you added, “Focus on the piles on your desk”? Do you agree with me that he wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed and might procrastinate less? Now he doesn’t have to look around and try to figure out how to get started. You’ve given him direction by using the word “focus.” It’s a powerful word.

Rather than just saying, “You haven’t read enough today” you could add, “Focus on finishing two chapters and paying close attention to how the author develops the main characters.”

As a wonderful dinner is wrapping up, rather than requesting help by saying something like, “I need some help in here” you could add, “Let’s focus first on the countertops.” Again, there’s bound to be more hopefulness, efficiency, cooperation, and success and less complaining, whining, and frustration.

We can learn to do this for ourselves, too. For instance, I no longer think about cleaning my house on the weekend. That’s not realistic. It’s easy to feel defeated before I start. I usually think about what is most important and realistic to accomplish and I think instead, “Tomorrow I’ll focus on switching seasonal clothes in my closets.” Or, “Tomorrow, I will focus on dusting the nativities in the living room.”

When wanting to write a new book proposal, it doesn’t do me much good to think about writing the entire proposal. It’s such an overwhelming responsibility that it’s easy for me to not even start. But, when I decide to focus on the 150 word summary of the book, I can accomplish that. I can successfully write when I decide to focus on each section and not the entire process.

What do you think? Might the word “focus” benefit you as you give direction to others? Will it benefit them? And, how might you use it in your own inner thought life? In what ways will you begin to use it to see if it matters as much to you as it has to me? I’d love to know if you’d care to take the time to leave a comment.