Scott Kelly and Chris Bosh on Learning to Focus

From a Wall Street Journal column that asked luminaries to weigh in on the subject of focus:

Scott Kelly

“Becoming an astronaut takes focus. In space, there are some things you do that are so critical that if you were to do them incorrectly, you could kill yourself, your crew members; you could destroy the spacecraft. If you’re shutting down an engine during ascent, the implications of doing the procedure improperly are that you blow up.

But there are things we can control and things that we can’t, and we need to focus on stuff we can control and ignore everything else or at least not pay nearly as much attention to it. That was critical for me in space. I was in control of throwing the switches and pushing the buttons, but there were things I didn’t have any control over, like, Is a piece of micrometeoroid debris going to hit the spacecraft and cause it to depressurize? I needed to just focus on my job and ignore as much else as I could.”

Kelly is a former NASA astronaut and former space shuttle and space station commander.

Chris Bosh

“There’s not much difference between a bad team and a good team and a great team, but usually the bad teams don’t have any focus. What I mean by focus is moving on to the next thing, staying totally in the present and focusing on the task at hand. That can be extremely difficult when there are a lot of people yelling, when there are distractions.

One of the exercises I like to do is just sit down and do nothing. I like to let the thoughts wash over me. Before a big game, I’d be reading. I’d need silence. I’m not trying to get hyped up. I’d know the challenges were coming. People always ask me, ‘How does it feel to be “in the zone” playing basketball?’ If you practice it every day, if this is your skill, your muscle memory, your body, your brain, your neural activity will begin to take over and you can just do what you do.”

Bosh is a former professional basketball player who was an 11-time NBA All-Star and an Olympic gold medalist.

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