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Focus, Practice, & Discipline
Written by Joe Rossini

Most of the fun times in our lives occur as a result of acquiring new skills and the enjoyment of being proficient at them. Being adept at tennis, golf, fishing or dancing can add lots of joy and pleasure to our lives. We learn these skills through focus, practice and discipline.

Children learn to play musical instruments well or become a star in little league by focusing on fundamentals and having the discipline to practice on a planned schedule. Coaches and teachers have a strong influence in developing disciplines. A piano teacher provides lessons on Monday’s and Thursday’s and fully expects that their students will practice on the other days. If the student develops this discipline, he or she will learn to play the piano very well over time.

A little league coach focuses on fundamentals and holds disciplined practice sessions during the season, and the truly dedicated players can become stars. As parents we encourage our kids to learn one skill after another while growing up by focusing on the fundamentals and then practicing with discipline.

So what happens to these kids when they become adults? Complacency too often sets into their mindsets. The daily routine of commute, work, commute and hit the couch becomes the norm. Humans are very habitual. Once we get into a routine, it usually won’t change unless it absolutely has to. If we’re not careful, our daily routines won’t include the learning of any new skills. In fact, our routines may not include any learning whatsoever; only entertainment.

There’s nothing wrong with entertainment; but ONLY entertainment? That’s a different story; and the results that it produces can be ugly. Just take a peek at the closing years of the Roman Empire. If you’ve ever heard of the term “bread and circuses,” it stems from the Romans. In order to keep the Roman people from becoming too unhappy and in order to keep them distracted from the policy decisions being made, the government provided them with enough food (bread) so that they wouldn’t starve and enough entertainment (circuses) so they would be amused and distracted.

Every choice that we make produces some result. A well-educated, well-skilled group of individuals will produce one result, while a group of individuals who live on handouts and need to be constantly entertained will produce a totally different result. Since you only have the power to choose for yourself, making a daily decision as to which group you want to belong to.

Too many adults ignore the thousands of inexpensive, interesting and fun adult courses available at local high schools and colleges. The topics covered are wide and varied. My wife and I make it a point to sign up for night classes each year and it is very disheartening to see the embarrassing turnouts. For instance we attended several computer courses that averaged 6 students. A fun dance course had only 8 students. Our horseback riding class, which was a blast, had only 5 students. Where is everybody?

There are so many talented teachers with skills to offer adults. They just need more students that want to enhance their lives by learning new skills. If you’ve been playing hooky from night courses, get motivated and start attending.

If you are unable to attend classes, then TEACH YOURSELF new skills. We live in an age where information is available to anyone with an Internet connection. You can learn how to do anything, and not just from one source. Let’s say that you wanted to learn about computer networking. Back when you had to rely on your local library for information, you may have been lucky to find a single book. But with the power of the Internet, you can get the equivalent of a full college education in computer networking, and then some.

Whatever it is that interests you, go and get involved in becoming good at it. Don’t just do it for a day or week, stay focused and disciplined. Practice the fundamentals of whatever it is that you enjoy. If you make the decision to do so, it’ll make one less person eligible to be seduced by the “bread and circuses.”

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