Follow the Focus…
If you focus, you can get there.
If you lose focus, you will likely wind up swimming through troubles large and small…
A personal trainer will tell you that.
A financial advisor will say the same.
A music teacher would advise you to do this.
A solid business leader would give you the same advice. In fact, Steven Covey said it well. To succeed, you must develop this habit:
“Begin with the end in mind.”
If you can see where you are going, the path is straightforward.
Track coaches have their runners visualize crossing the finish.
Focus on the finish.
I once heard a successful football coach tell a crowd of thousands that teams that win never tell their teams to “follow their heart.”
“Winning teams don’t follow their heart!” he said.
Then he raised his voice to underscore his point:
“Winning teams “follow the focus!”
That was the primary lesson of a magnificent acrobat from the 19th century.
I grew up just a few miles north of Niagara Falls—so all through childhood, and into adulthood, I heard (and sometimes witnessed) stories of famous exploits.
Some were foolish: in 1920 Charles Stephens planned to go over the falls in a barrel. He equipped the barrel with an anvil for ballast, attached himself to the anvil for security, and sank to his death with the anvil.
Some were a combination of both planned and impulsive: Kirk Jones, a fellow from Michigan, wanted to jump into the falls with no protective gear at all, just the clothes on his back. Of course, he wanted to have the exploit videoed in order to achieve fame and fortune. Jones, on a lark, make the decision, in October of 2003. He and a buddy bought a used camcorder to record the event. On October 20, after imbibing copious amounts of booze, he jumped into the Niagara River on the Canadian side, about 100 yards upstream from the 175’ drop. He did survive the fall with only bumps and bruises but was banned for life from entering Canada ever again—and he and his buddy were so intoxicated, that his buddy couldn’t work the camera to record the exploit!
Some were well planned and failed. In 1995, Robert Overcracker purchased a parachute, and made a measured plan to ride a jetski over the brink of the falls. His goal was to use the event to draw attention to the plight of the homeless. On October 1, he shot out over the Niagara Gorge on his jetski.
The moment was dramatic, captured on film by an Egyptian tourist. Then, his parachute failed; he died at 39, his body was never recovered.
Some were well planned and succeeded. In 2012 Nick Wallenda walked a tightrope across Niagara Falls, with permissions granted by the US and Canada, on condition he use a safety harness. Wallenda was a family member of the flying Wallendas. He had never used a harness even once in his life but conceded to the governing authorities. His tightrope walk was broadcast on both sides of the border; Wallenda made not a single error and could have succeeded without the harness.
Wallenda (and the members of the Wallenda family) knew that focus was the key to success.
Go back to 1859, more than 160 years ago, and there was a French acrobat nick-named Charles Blondin (due to his bright blonde hair). He crossed the falls on a tightrope that was 1300 feet long, two inches thick and made entirely of hemp. He did that feat before adoring throngs of tens of thousands a total of about 300 times. One time, he paused mid-crossing, made an omelet on a skillet, and lowered it down to people on the deck of the Maid of the Mist for them to enjoy.
Mark Twain didn’t like him.
But President Millard Fillmore did. So did the newspapers, and the throngs of tourists who would flock to see his astonishing feats.
Yet there was one historic event that pushed the newspapers to a feeding frenzy.
Blondin’s manager, Harry Colcord, was standing in front of a crowd of fans on the American side. Blondin had just pushed a wheelbarrow across the gorge on the tightrope, astonishing those on Canadian and American sides of the great falls. Spying out his manager, he singled him out to “work the crowd.”
The manager was delighted. He recognized that Blondin knew exactly how to please a crowd.
Blondin yelled out, “Do you believe I can cross the Niagara Gorge on a tightrope?”
“I sure do!” yelled back the manager, pandering to the enchanted crowd.
“Get on my back!” yelled Blondin to the manager…
Surprized, Colcord knew he had no choice.
He jumped on to 5’4”, 140 lb. acrobat.
The Frenchman calmly walked across the gorge, Colcord piggybacking him from the American to the Canadian side.
Blondin earned his living by well-planned acrobatics. In time, he retired, and died of old age (complications related to diabetes).
What was his secret?
At either end of the tightrope, he affixed an oversized silver star, so that he could see it no matter where he was. As Blondin walked the tightrope, he would not look to the right or to the left. Rather, he would do one thing and one thing only.
He would fix his gaze on that star and walk toward it.
With that star in the center of his vision,
he would let it guide him to the other side.
Blondin followed the focus.
This brings us to the book of James, chapter 1, verse 12. Here is my own translation of the text:
Blessed is the one who remains faithful under trial,
for having been proved genuine through it,
that one will receive the crown of life,
which is promised to all those who love Him… James 1:12
James is telling the people to focus.
Fix your eyes on the crown at the end of the journey.
Let trials sharpen your focus, proving you are genuine, and true.
Do not focus on the trials, or you will wind up in the swirling chaos.
James tells the audience of those who love his older brother, Jesus, the Risen Lord, to keep their eyes focused on the reward, the crown that Christ Himself would grant to those who would not allow trouble or trial to distract them from their goal—knowing Christ Himself at all costs.
Trials were all around them, attempting to distract them from their goal.
Attaining Jesus’ kingdom was to be the focus of their lives.
They were to follow the focus.
© David Chotka 2020