Focus: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of True Immersion in Life, Work and Play (Part 2: Finding Focus After Getting Your Ass Kicked)

This is part 2 of a 4-part series entitled Focus: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of True Immersion in Life, Work and Play. Stay up-to-date on when part 3 comes out by subscribing for free with or . Connect with me on and say hi.

In part 1, I told you you are a naked, barefoot and un-caffeinated individual, free of all possessions and things because you’ve eliminated everything and anything you own that do not add value and positive meaning in your life, including a soul-crushing day job. You cannot find focus if you cannot even find yourself.

Okay, you can put some clothes back on but the message is still there, like an impromptu tattoo at 3 in the morning after a drunken night of craziness ending with a rambunctious dare to ink yourself. What does the tattoo say? ELIMINATE!

Part 2: Finding Focus After Getting Your Ass Kicked

Illegitimi non carborundum (Latin for “don’t let the bastards get you down”)

It was a sweltering hot day in July 2008 at the USA Karate Nationals in Houston, Texas. I was a 4th kyu (rank), belt color purple, over halfway to Black belt. It was my first Karate Nationals and I was infused with plenty of Starbucks coffee and the immense jitters of pre-competition anxieties.

Thousands of fans made the entire stadium echo with the voices, screams, shouts and cheers of many. My heart was pounding as I went up for my first fight against another purple belt, a young woman in her early 20s also.

Say What?

Punches and flying kicks ensued after we both bowed and the match begun. A rather nasty punch to my nose caused a drop of blood to land on my crisp, white gi (uniform). Oh no she didn’t!

Focusing on the task at hand (i.e., kicking her ass), I drowned out everyone and everything around me until it was just me and her. No shouts could be heard. No screams from fans pierced my ears. Nothing.

When one experiences tunnel vision, whereby everything fades to black except what you are completely focusing your entire spirit on, amazing things can happen.

I won the match after throwing one final roundhouse kick to her midsection.

She Thought Wrong

Next match was against a higher ranking woman than I was at the time. She was a brown belt. She thought she had an easy match, going against a lower ranking person. She thought wrong.

A rather nasty brawl of illegal punches and kicks caused the judge to award me penalty points, thereby fueling her rage even more. She couldn’t believe it. She was losing.

Focus. I was like Chun-Li in Street Fighter, minus the mini skirt and white-laced boots. I was focused and executed solid punches to her body, thereby solidifying my winning.

Going For the Gold

I just won 2 matches in a row and onto my last and final match, going for the Gold medal. What the … I thought. I saw my competition. She was a thin, but extremely fast brown-haired, brown belt 20-year-old from New Jersey, not saying much and playing it cool, eyeing the competition, me, a 5’5″ small-boned light weight Asian woman.

The match begun and I lost horribly, 0 to 8.

What happened? I lost my focus because I was so nervous that it was the Gold medal round. I couldn’t concentrate and lost the match when I easily could’ve made it more of a fight.

It’s okay. I learned my lesson, still earned a Silver medal at my first Nationals and harnessed my focus even more intently, earning me a Gold medal at the U.S. Open the following year.

How to focus? Medals and trophies don’t mean a thing to me. It’s the experience that does.

Just You and Them

Whether you’re fighting competitively, working on a huge work project, painting a mural, or simply cooking a meal at home, think of it like this:

It’s just you and them, baby. You and them.

No one else is in the room. No one else is watching. No one else cares.

Like Tim Ferriss started off in his book , his story of him and his partner dancing tango in a competition in Buenos Aires in front of thousands of people, it was just him and his partner out there having fun.

No one else.

Empty your mind and illuminate your inner focused ninja. Slash everything else around you. Be ruthless. None of this halfsey’s, I-don’t-want-to-hurt-anyone’s-feelings.

You Have to Really Want It

If you want to have focus, you have to really want it and will do nothing to stop at what you are focused on.

I got my ass kicked time and time again while working for corporations. I realized I was always “losing” because I was in a position where there was no winning to be had. I wasn’t going to cash out big, create grand and awesome things and sip frozen mango smoothies on the beaches of Bali after putting in 1,000 hours of pure, straight up hard work.

It is at some of your most trying times in life, where you are trying to find what you want to do in your life, that you must harness the focus you have within you and create those opportunities you’ve always wanted for yourself.

Nothing will be given to you. Focus cannot be given to you or inherited. There is no secret or shortcut to achieving all that you want to achieve.

You must want it so badly for yourself that you will stop at nothing until you get it.


In part 3 of this 4-part series, I’ll share with you how pouring all your energy into one focused action can lead you straight to the top. Stay up-to-date on when part 3 comes out by subscribing for free with or . Connect with me on .