The Goalkeeper and the Ball as an Allegory for Maintaining Focus

As a kid, I remember some of the 6-man football matches my friends and I played with three on each team, four as players, and two as goalkeepers. I usually got nominated as the goalkeeper. I was terrible at the beginning, but I got better and received more nominations over time. As a goalkeeper I wasn't an expert, I was just using a simple trick that I picked up after playing a few matches.

In order to be an effective goalkeeper, you have to focus on the ball at all times, and forget about the game, the players, everything around you. All your attention should be on the ball, where it’s moving, how it bounces e.t.c. It's like practicing mindfulness meditation, forgetting about everything else, and just focusing on one thing - the ball. When you can do this, you have solved half of the problems associated with being a good goalkeeper. Professional goalkeepers may have to be concerned with things such as catching technique, speed, style of kicking, and so forth.

I think this primary act of solely focusing on a ball was easily transferable into my young adult life and in most things that I tried to do. studying, programming, working, writing, podcast conversations/editing. Focus is necessary if you want to learn anything deeply or produce anything that people will appreciate for a long time, but if we're being honest, maintaining focus is hard, but it can be sustained by taking away players and games from whatever you're doing and concentrating only on the ball - the task at hand. I figured this style of aggressive reduction is more effective in lessening distractions. The main takeaway from this would be to constantly identify the ball in whatever you’re doing and actively try to maintain your gaze on it at all times.

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