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, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

Two nights ago my wife and I were watching “Flip This House”. On the show two guys in designer clothes are trotting around buying garbage houses, repainting them and selling again (mere days later) for twice what they paid. A sweet gig if you can get it.

Anyway, the Prada shoes are working well for them and they decide to hire an intern. This guy they bring in is super keen and they start tyring to show him the ropes – make him a millionaire in a day – so he can be just like them.

So they’re at this beater house and they keep asking him what needs to be fixed so they can flip the place for a mint. Problem is, every time they start telling him something he answers his cell. Eventually they just give up, hop in their swanky truck, and leave him there chattering away on the phone.

When the kid finally realizes he’s been dumped he calls one of the guys for a ride. They tell him they will pick him up if he catches a peacock (they run wild in that part of the States).

So, for an hour and half this kid runs all over the place, chasing peacocks up onto rooftops, out into the road, and into everybody’s yards.

Finally, sweating and defeated, he begs them to come get him even though he can’t catch the birds.

When they pick him up he asks why they made him chase peacocks. The millionarie says, “Because you can’t catch a peacock unless you’re focused.”

Beyond the designer clothes, swishy trucks and greased back hair I think there’s a rich parable in that sentence. Lots of people intend to make lots of money but few are willing to attend their intention.

I’ve noticed three kinds of people. 93% of people live in the past, regretting yesterday, inadvertently squandering today, and generally living aimlessly. 6% live in the future, refining their ambition and striving for tomorrow’s goals.

The remaining few have moved out of the past and looked hard at their future. They have defined their intention and moved back into the present to attend their intention.

By bringing their focus into the moment, by becoming present, these few exert an enormous amount of attention on each fragment of time. While the previous 6% spread their attention over years and years of uncontrolled and untouchable future moments these people point their entire capacity at single moments.

I’m one of the 6%. I have yet to find my focus. I think that’s my thing these days.

As the focus becomes clearer, it’s going to be increasingly important to understand what I am choosing in each moment.

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Speaking of focus….

Isn’t greatness the result of constant attention to detail?

Horace, in the Art of Poetry advises Piso … when you have written something, keep it beside you for nine years before publishing it.

The Aneid was written over ten years and Virgil, as he lay dying wanted to destroy it because it was imperfect. His friends stopped him.

The poem Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, took 8 years to write.

In the orginal manuscript of the Republic, Plato writes as his first sentence. “I went down the Piraeus yesterday with Glaucon, the son of Ariston, that I might offer up prayer to the goddess.” There were 13 other rejected versions of that same sentence on the manuscript. Perfect cadence mattered to Plato.

The Lord of the Rings required 15 years to write and perfect.

Speaking of focus …

Thanks John. Great addition.

This post came out of a conversation where a friend and I were trying to understand how a young man could achieve in four years what an older man had achieved in 20.

Their skills sets were the same, education was equivalent, both had started young.

Of course there’s a billion variables but a stark difference between the two was an ability to be present.

– The young man worked from 6:00 until 4:00 while the older man “always worked”.

– The young man had a healthy body, exercised regularly, and spent a lot of time outdoors. The older man lived at his desk.

– The young man had an excellent home life, his kids loved him, his marriage was healthy. The older man had just closed out his third marriage.

In all these roles, the young man was awake and present. The old man was away somewhere in his mind, somewhere in his future.

Like I wrote above, lots of variables determine success in these things, but certainly attention to intention is one of the big ones.

It makes sense that anyone who intends to be a great writer would attend deliberately (even fanatically) to that goal. And it is an excellent example of the present process required to attain that future. After all, books are written one word at a time.