Skip to content

The Thought Tornado

David Sherry
2 min read

There are so many blogs about productivity.

So many websites that give you templates for how to do your work, be more productive, creative...  but my intent here is for us to discuss the undiscussed.

There are nuances that relate to our mindset which drive our actions further than surface level fixes.

And to understand these nuances is to gain mastery of ourselves at work and in life.

One of such areas is our Focus.

Focus is one, if not the most important tool of the mind.

I've noticed this in the workplace, in meetings, in relationships, and even in conversations in my own head...

We encounter The Thought Tornado.

The Thought Tornado is what takes us away from our priorities. It takes us off topic. It shifts where we're putting our attention to areas of unnecessary detail, rather than a top priority.

The Thought Tornado occurs when we spiral our focus out of control away from what matters.

This can happen in a meeting (someone brings up something unrelated to the focus, and the whole group spins outward towards this new topic).

This can happen in a relationship (one person's small comment becomes the focus of a larger fight with bigger importance than reality). It's like a rock in a shoe.

And this can happen in our own heads: We're working on a task and suddenly a text, an email, or a thought pops up that drives us down a rabbit hole away from what we had been doing. And when we get out of the swirl, we forget where we've left off.

This shift gains importance as it gains focus.

And this is the critical understanding of the power of focus.

It's intensity increases as it's used.

Focus is a magnifying glass.

And that magnifying glass can be used in very positive ways, it's what helps us gain depth of skill and understanding.

But when that magnifying glass is being used on your toe, instead of on the court...We waste priority to distraction.

So why is it that we get caught in these cyclones?

Why do we revert to the small unimportant details, or place our focus on irrelevant data?

Well, it's a matter of awareness and discipline.

First, we are unaware, like an ostrich we're caught with our face in a hole which shows us nothing. And it's tough to be aware that this is where we're looking (at the time).

And the discipline is to have a priority for our focus at all. To know what the priorities are, and to stick to them takes thinking, rather than reacting.

And so the undisciplined, and the unaware waste time by using their precious Focus in holes, and they get carried away by tornadoes.

Whereas the disciplined in the aware keep focus, therefore bring strength of mind, using the priority like a rail for which to hold for momentum and direction.

If either of these are currently difficult for you, becoming aware, catching yourself once you've been swept away, or setting priorities and keeping them...

At this stage let me only suggest that you not try to change anything, but to simply understand the consequences of functioning this way. And as your awareness grows, you will grow.

The downstream effects of unaware and nonfocus are wasted time, wasted brain power and attention, other people's wasted time, and most of all a lack of effectiveness moving towards what you actually want.

There are plenty of things around us chasing for our attention, tornadoes spinning past us we can get swept up in...

In essence; we take the bait.

Having a priority in the first place takes effort. It takes high-level thinking, rather than reaction.

Keeping the priority takes discipline. It takes calmly returning your focus to where you wish to keep it.

You will get swept up.

So return as quickly as possible.

And use your priority like a wheel...

Hold onto it, let it guide you.

xx David