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When life seems blurry, ADJUST YOUR FOCUS.  ~ Unknown

Perception is reality and what we see is very important. When we adjust our focus or change the way we see things, rather; what we see changes too.

I am often asked how I manage my businesses, non-profit organization, Operation Help™, coupled with balancing my family roles and responsibilities.  By way of explaining why I am driven towards a deliberate focus in everything I do, whether personal or professional, let me tell you a brief story from my years as a youth.

When I was growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, my father gave my older brother and I a weekend chore of maintaining the garden and lawn.  My brother’s responsibility was cutting the grass and my responsibility was to ensure the flower beds were always kept neat and cleaned out. If anyone has ever cleaned flower beds before, you understand that it is important to do so properly so you don’t damage the plants.

Well, for a 10-year old (going on 11) who’d rather be riding his bike, watching Saturday morning cartoons or pretending to be Superman, cleaning out the flower beds without damaging plants takes intense focus and concentration.  Even the Man of Steel himself might consider this task tedious and time-consuming.  That is why for the first 10 times, my father stood along side me to guide the process until he felt comfortable that I could handle this job on my own.

Well, for the most part, I was patient throughout this long and tiresome duty. However, on this one particularly hot summer day of the 80’s, I had no interest in pruning flowers beds, especially when my best friend stopped by to say that he had the new Frogger video for Atari 2600.  Of course, in my father’s home it was a “work before play” mentality so I certainly could not think of asking to go check out Frogger before all the flower beds were cleaned out.

So…needless to say, a job that normally takes me 2-4 hours, took me a good 20 minutes and that’s being generous.

Long story short, with effortless grace and success to the tune of over 100,000 points for a first-time player.  Yet, I definitely didn’t score HIGH POINTS with my father who came marching over to my friend’s home to get me and ground me for months when he saw that I pulled up ever plant, bud or seed in every flower bed in our lawn.

No, he was not amused by how I maneuvered control of the frog in Frogger to duck and dodge hazards while crossing the busy roads and helping him navigate across the river and there was NO WAY I could dodge the unforgettable scolding from my father that reminds me even until this day that my short-term focus was, not only untimely, but forced me to take more time than ever before in the garden re-planting every morning glory, hydrangea, coneflower, gardenia and daffodil in the most meticulous fashion.

Calming your mental roller coaster and finding focus can boggle even the smartest, most (seemingly) organized person. Sometimes, switching gears, mid-stream can be more destructive, causing you to spend extra time cleaning up the mess. However, focusing your mind can cause the chaos around you to seem as if it isn’t there. If you stay focused and realize that Frogger will be there when you’re done, when you finally get to it, it will be a much better experience and you can truly embrace the high score.

~ Preston Byrd