A bedouin walking through the desert is able to notice a shadow from three miles out, and can tell you exactly whether or not it is a dog, a camel, or a person. A hunter can see a person or an animal amidst the dense forest or jungle foliage from nearly 1,000 feet away. A smart businessman can see an opportunity for a new venture or idea just by reading in between the lines of a newspaper.
How are these people able to do this? How are they able to see – either physically or in their mind’s eye – what so many of us are unable to? The answer lies in their ability to focus, and their knowledge of their field (both literally and figuratively). This is called selective attention.
The phrase Selective Attention means the ability to be able to hone in and focus on one thing at any given time. It is why when you are at a party you are able to speak to one person despite the fact that there are so many other people around, or why you are able to find a person in a crowd despite the fact that there are thousands of people.
In both cases, you know what to look for – in the first scenario, you are focusing on one person and drowning out the external stimuli from the rest of the people. In the second one, you know exactly who you are looking for, so you are able to not pay attention to anyone who is not the person you need.
How to get it
There are tons of hacks out in this world which claim that they will be able to get you to be able to do anything you need, and that you will be able to unlock your brain’s full potential. However, there is no way to “hack” your brain into understanding selective attention in a day.
In order to get this skill, you need to practice for hours on end, year after year, until you are an expert in what you want to be able to do. The bedouin spends his whole life in the desert and therefore knows what to look for to the point that it is intuitive. A hunter who hunts constantly year after year will be able to get the shot because they intuitively know what to look for.
A professional athlete will be able to win because they are able to see and expect what their opponent will do. No, this does not require so much thought or guesswork by them, they already know intuitively what will happen.
How to start
One thing that is crucial in being able to train your brain to superfocus is the ability to rely on measurements and statistics. So long as you can measure what you are doing, you will be able to see if the things you are doing or changing are working, and adjust accordingly.
However, be warned that this does not happen overnight, and will take years and even decades to accomplish. But if you stick with it and see results, you yourself can be on your way to greatness.