Paying Focus and Attention

May 23rd, 2011

Creative people must learn to

  1. Pay attention while creating a focus.
  2. Collect ideas everywhere you can.
  3. Take notes and review them.

Paying attention is crucial in generating ideas.The pilot slang term for that, according to Micheal Michalko, is getting tone.  When a fighter pilot says “I’ve got tone” it means they have the target on radar lock.  Imagine that thing you see in movies when the missile is locked on a moving object.Remember how it follows the object no matter where it goes?  When the object jumps, it jumps, when the object swerves, the missile swerves.  That is getting tone.  Your focus must be locked to your goal securely but it is a necessity to pay attention to your experience as well.

We tend to live life experiencing tremendous amount of information, scenes, and happenings that sometimes we tend to move towards life with our eyes glazed.  The “looking but not seeing” syndrome.


Creative thinkers, according to Michalko needs to feed their minds with new information and ideas.  I’ve always thought excessive isolation is creative suicide.  The brain cannot feed on itself…otherwise it would end up eating itself.  Great ideas are always generated from familiarity of other people’s creativity.

Paying attention to what’s happening around you will do wonders.  Mundane things become miraculously interesting. Paying attention will help you develop a “binary vision”.  It is about seeing what others see, perceiving it as they perceive it but having this uncanny skill of noticing something unexpected. Little things that goes unnoticeable but definitely play a great factor in the greater scheme of things.

Slowly, you will perceive trends, opportunities, connections, relationships, contradictions, etc.  in places you once thought had none.


When you start to pay attention, these things you notice will start to trigger a thought that might lead to a new idea. Write what you think is worth writing.  Keep a handy notebook always at hand for ideas always come in the most unexpected moments.  You don’t need to linger and analyze what you wrote immediately.  Just write it for the thought might elude you if you don’t.  Read them when you have the time and you would be amazed.   You can annotate books as well.  Don’t be scared to create marginal outlines on books you love. On books that you tend to read over and over again.

Here is a test for you to see if you are paying enough attention.
How many F’s are in the following paragraph?

The necessity of training farmhands for first class farms in the fatherly handling of farm livestock is foremost in the minds of farm owners.  Since the forefathers of the farm owners trained the farmhands for first class farms in the fatherly handling of farm livestock, the farm owners feel they should carry on with the family tradition of training farmhands of first class farms in the fatherly handling of farm livestocks because they believe it is the basis of good fundamental farm management.

How many Fs did you find?
The number of F’s in the paragraph is thirty-six.  Anything less would mean you must have ignored the F’s in the word “of”.

(images are not mine but randomly picked online)


  1. very nice entry te ^_^ love it.

    i have a knack for writing notes on pen or mobile. hehe. because i tend to forget specific details. and i just love to write or maybe scribble :D

    focus is something that i lack as of the moment. i tend to start things and end up only finishing a few of them. hmmm. wonder why.

    anyway, very nice entry. :-*

  2. Wow, thanks for this info!

  3. really really nice.I thought it was taken from a magazine but it was you who made it! palakpak!

  4. I almost skimmed through this post, but I had to read it all, to “get a tone” :) Thanks for the focus reminder!

  5. With the power of focus we will bring the result in front of our eyes. Thanks Leah, you remind me today

  6. 33 F’s only. sobs. i should try to be more alert. wonderful blog you’ve got. will subscribe now! :-D

    a bit off topic but related to your creative thinking articles: are you familiar with the research of Dr. Mihaly Cziksentmihalyi. He did extensive studies on the world’s most creative people. I just thought you’d find it interesting too. :-)

    • oh no im not…what is that? please share more! ill research that :) thanks for sharing!

  7. I always forget something I knew would be a great idea to write about and that’s why now, when I have that “thing”. I see to it that I go jump right out of bed and start writing about it…sometime I use my phone to take note of it too…
    nice info…

    • yeah…do the things you write sometimes surprise you? it sometimes surprises me that i was able to think of such whenever i read back onw hat i wrote…i dont know…it sounded so simple and common when i thought about it at first..then i forget..then i read back..and sometimes, it makes sense ^.^

  8. I am very forgetful! That’s why I take notes almost instantly anytime on things i find interesting or I even record them on my phone. It really helps. I’m always stressed out with a lot of things going on my life and it causes me to forget things! bummer! Anyway, nice post! :)

    • thanks cherry, sometimes the stress comes from us trying to remember things we cannot, for the life of us, remember :)

  9. i just found out that writing is my passion,way back into my college days i always take note what my professor giving tips for us.thanks for sharing these thoughts.

  10. I did try your test and got 34 F’s as result.
    Guess, I need to learn to pay attention more, LOL
    Anyway, thank you for the test.
    It looks so simple but when we tried, it’s not that easy.

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