Remember when you had a realization that resulted in a permanent and dramatic change?

I don’t necessarily mean your entire life changed – those kinds of epiphanies are quite rare – but some important aspect.

Maybe it was how you thought about your health.

Maybe it was about your relationships or career.

Often it isn’t even a flash in the sense of happening quickly, but rather an idea that sticks with you and gradually changes you over time.

In many ways, The Focus Formulas is the result of several ideas that have stuck with me over time, sometimes a very long time.

In this post I’d like to share a few of these, both so you can apply them directly and so the rest of the blog will make sense.

Mindset 1: EVERYTHING is a skill that can be improved

“I’m just not good at X” was not accepted in my parent’s house growing up and will not be accepted here.

There’s ALWAYS a way to get better and usually a way to get good.

A caveat is that we ARE more naturally suited to some things than to others. However, some things can’t be ignored. You don’t have to be the best, but you have to improve enough that you aren’t limiting your potential.

One of the most important examples of this from my childhood were my conversational skills. I tended to either be shy or, when I did talk, do so at great length regardless of whether my audience was interested or bored to a state of tears and/or catatonia.

My mother, seeing the difficulties this gave me making friends, and no doubt imagining an older and still awkward version of myself trying to talk to girls and further calculating the unfavorable odds of grandchildren, decided to help me fix it.

It took a long time. I was clueless, but she was patient. It took years, but by my early teens I was a passably skilled conversationalist and by 17 I was considered charming.

Today conversational skills are one of my greatest strengths and I can’t imagine my life without them. I would almost certainly be a different and vastly less happy person.

So, now you see why I don’t believe in letting yourself make the excuse  that you’re just not good at something you need.

Mindset 2: Look for simple, motivating models to understand a complicated world

Models are always oversimplified, but they can be very illuminating, allowing you to predict things you otherwise couldn’t. Generally, the most important thing about a model is its predictive accuracy, followed by its simplicity.

All other things being equal a simple, an easier to understand model is preferable.

For our purposes, there is another factor to consider. When devising models to help you think about your own productivity, you should aim for something that is true and accurate but also something that motivates you to take productive action.

A simple example of this is the saying that “time is money.”

You might feel bad about wasting time, but if you internalize the saying “time is money” to the point that you can actually feel your bank account getting smaller when you’re thinking about spending an hour watching cat videos, avoiding time sinks will happen more naturally.

Now, strictly speaking this isn’t true – wasting time usually doesn’t directly cost you money.  It does cost you opportunity, though, which is even more important but also less visceral for most.

Thus, you’re better off believing that time is money.

Now, I’m recommending this only for convincing yourself. I’m emphatically not telling you that it’s ok to deceive others. But fooling yourself a little bit is ok.

Mindset 3: Maximum practicality

I have no interest in writing long, academic articles.

Been there, done that.

I’m here to help YOU.

I keep my advice practical, whenever possible, something you can use right away after reading.

I keep my prose concise, clear, and conversational – the point is to UNLEASH your brainpower, NOT tie it up unnecessarily with hard-to-parse sentences or convoluted reasoning.


Stay tuned for part 2, where I discuss the other key mindsets that go into everything I write here.

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