I coined the world slotra
as a sort of cross between a mantra and a slogan? The first definition
for slogan in Websters New Collegiate is A
war cry or rallying cry esp. of a Scottish clan. When you
need to bolster your courage, when you need to get off your rump
and go to work, when you need to overcome your own inertia or
nervousness, repeat the following slogan to yourself over and
over, making the intensity and urgency of your tone rise each
time you say it until it becomes like a war cry Focus
creates power! Focus creates power! Focus creates power! Youll
be up and moving!
In a sense, this is the principle that
makes slotras work. By repeating the slotra over and over, you
allow your mind to focus, like the sun through a magnifying glass.
The sun could shine all day without changing a piece of paper
lying on the ground. But use a magnifying glass to focus a lot
of light on one little spot, and youll start to see something
Its like reading a book. You read
and get a lot of good ideas, and then get up and go on about
your day, and the ideas never had a sharp enough focus onto a
single point to make a difference. But take one of those ideas
and repeat it and think about it and tell your friends about
it, and youll start to see something happen. Repetition
creates focus. Focus creates power.
In experiments on Yoga practitioners, researchers
found that their intense focus during meditation created a specific
power: the power to maintain an alpha brain rhythm even during
annoying stimulation. During meditation, the yogis brain
waves slowed down and became rhythmical. It is known as an alpha
state, and the state cannot be achieved by force. You cant
make yourself, by any effort, create that state, because
the state of forcing or making yourself puts your
brain in a beta state, a normal waking state characterized by
a faster and more chaotic electrical pulse.
Once the yogis got into that alpha state,
the researchers tried to see what they could do that might pop
them out of alpha and into beta. They tried strong light, a loud
banging noise, touching them with something hot, ringing a tuning
fork, and sticking their hands into ice-cold water for forty-five
Something they didnt try was smacking
them on the back of the head with a baseball bat. I think it
wouldve worked, but I wasnt there at the time and
they didnt ask me for my ideas. But anyway, the things
they tried didnt work at all. The yogis stayed in alpha,
and their alpha rhythm didnt respond at all to the annoying
stimuli. By contrast, normal people sitting there who had relaxed
enough to be in alpha would immediately come out of it from any
of those stimuli.
What were the yogis doing? They were simply
repeating some stimulus over and over. Either saying a word over
and over to themselves (a mantra), or holding a picture in their
minds eye, and when they drifted away into other thoughts,
they brought their mind back to that picture or word.
Focus is what created the power.
The ability to stay with what youre
doing without getting your attention scattered by non-relevant
stimuli is a vital component to your general effectiveness in
life. Csikszentmihalyi wrote, If the rock-climber were
to worry about his job or his love life as he is hanging by his
fingertips over the void, he would soon fall. The musician would
hit a wrong note, the chess player would lose the game.
If you can set a goal and stay with it
through all the normal distractions of our modern world day after
day until you reach your goal, you are in possession of a power
to be reckoned with!
Focus creates power. Even my repetition
of this principle here is creating a certain amount of focus.
But repetition is boring, isnt it?
Lets look at that for a moment. Boredom means what? Its
an unpleasant state characterized by a wandering mind. Your mind
wanders, which is the opposite of focus.
When youre repeating your slotras,
and your mind wanders, you can handle it in one of two ways.
I dont know which way is best. Either you can wait until
you notice your mind has wandered, and then gently bring it back
to repeating the slotra again. Thats the peaceful way.
If you have too much stress in your life, thats the one
If you want more motivation and energy
in your life, I recommend the other way: say your slotra fast
enough and intensely enough that your mind doesnt wander
The repetition of the slotra focuses your
mental powers on one idea and forms a well-worn path through
In Ben Franklins autobiography, he
wrote about how he changed himself. He made a list of thirteen
virtues he wanted to acquire. He said:
My Intention being to acquire the Habitude
of all these Virtues, I judgd it would be well not to distract
my Attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on
one of them at a time, and when I should be Master of that, then
to proceed to another, and so on till I should have gone thro
the thirteen...I determined to give a Weeks strict Attention
to each of the Virtues successively.
His method of concentrating his attention
on one at a time worked wonderfully, and through the practice
of these virtues became one of the most useful men in America
during his lifetime.
The most effective formula for success
is: Pick one goal and think about it and work toward it all the
time. Make it your Magnificent Obsession. There may be many things
you want. As Earl Nightingale suggests, write them all down,
but then choose one. Forget about the others for now. Choose
one and make it your top priority, your most urgent daily obsession.
Do this, and keep it up long enough, and success is practically
Einstein and a colleague were once working on a scientific paper,
and when they were done, they needed a paper clip. They looked
around and found one, but it was bent out of shape. So they started
looking around for a tool they could use to bend it back into
a usable shape, when they came across a whole box of paper clips.
Einstein immediately took out a good paper
clip and bent it into a tool that he then used to bend the original
paper clip back into a usable shape.
His partner said, What are you doing
bending that paper clip into shape when we have a whole box of
perfectly good ones!?
Einsteins reply was, Once Im
set on a goal, it becomes difficult to deflect me.
He said later in his life that this little
incident characterized him more than any other. Its a silly
incident, and it was a foolish waste of time to bend the paper
clip back, but the habit of staying on a chosen course is extremely
powerful, and fully worth it even if the habit occasionally wastes
This world can easily be looked on as a
trap designed to take you off course, whatever course youre
on. The world is full of enticing temptations, annoying circumstances
and catastrophes, full of people who want your attention, your
energies, and your money to go somewhere other than down your
track. Staying on track is a tremendous test of will.
The chief obstacle is something inside
your body, something built into your genetic makeup a
curiosity that makes the human species the most successful on
Earth; a greed for what you dont have, a desire to see,
do, and hear new things. Combine that built-in desire to gain
pleasant experiences with the free-enterprise system, and stir.
What do you get? A dizzying land of temptations and distractions.
The world is literally screaming for your
attention. Advertisers, salespeople, your friends, your enemies,
and your own mother want your attention. They want you to take
your attention off your goals for a moment and put your
attention on their goals.
Distraction is the chief obstacle to achievement
of any kind. It doesnt seem like an obstacle, and that
makes it all the more difficult to overcome.
In The Millionaire Mind page-a-day calendar,
the author who studied millionaires scientifically
tells about a school-bus driver who was able to send his children
to medical school, private colleges, and graduate school, and
then he retired with a net worth of three million dollars. What?!
Wait a minute! Obviously you dont make much money as a
school-bus driver. But he was consistently frugal. That was important.
He stayed focused on his goal.
One advantage of being a school-bus driver
is lots of free time, and what he did consistently, staying on
track year after year, was read about investments. He saved money
by being frugal and then used what he learned in his reading
to invest his money wisely. Thats how he did it. Not with
a supreme exertion but with staying on purpose no matter what
the temptations or distractions.
AN EXAMPLE OF FOCUS
Gail Borden thought condensed meat was
the wave of the future. It was 1844 and people often died from
eating tainted meat. Before refrigeration, people needed other
alternatives. Borden experimented and found a way to boil 120
pounds of meat down to ten pounds, making it not only easier
to carry, but less likely to spoil.
When the California Gold Rush began, he
saw a ready market for his product, and he and his brother Tom
built a meat-condensing plant and started cranking out the product.
But of course, the Gold Rush didnt
last very long. After it was over, his main source of customers
dwindled down to nothing and his business went bankrupt.
Dont infer Ive given
up, he told a friend. He knew the process of condensation
was valuable, and he was determined to convince other people
of it. After several more years of experimentation, he wrote
in a letter to a friend, Every piece of property I own
is mortgaged. I labor fifteen hours a day.
He was paying the price of accomplishment. Often it doesnt
come easy, especially when you want to make a difference. He
wasnt just trying to make a living. He could have just
gotten a job. He had a vision, if you will: A big, shining vision
a hundred feet tall of the Value of Condensation. He knew it
was useful, and he was determined to bring his vision to fruition.
He was obsessed. He said, I mean to put a potato into a
pill box, a pumpkin into a tablespoon, the biggest sort of watermelon
into a saucer.
Gail knew a lot about condensation, but
apparently he was condensing the wrong thing. He was persistent,
but he wasnt a blind fool. He didnt keep trying to
give people what they didnt want. What would they
want? What could he condense that would serve humanity?
Pondering this question one day, he suddenly
remembered an incident on a ship he had read about somewhere.
Cows were on board to provide fresh milk (again, this was before
refrigeration) for the babies on the voyage. But the cows took
sick and four babies died from the tainted milk.
Maybe condensed milk would be useful. Gail
started experimenting and found a way to condense milk without
making it taste burnt, and opened a factory.
Dairy farmers saw this as a threat and
started a campaign against this unnatural form of
Keep this in mind: When you are doing something
that needs to be done, even if it is all good, and even if your
intentions are pure, there may be someone who finds your new
thing a threat to an already-existing status quo. They may put
up obstacles. What can you do to deal with it? Stay the course.
You are not responsible for making everyone happy. You are responsible
for accomplishing your goals.
Gail prevented himself from being distracted
and continued toward his goal, and almost went belly up again.
But then the Civil War broke out and the Union army thought Bordens
condensed milk was the perfect thing for a field ration. His
business was saved. After the war, public perception had changed,
and his business prospered. Condensed milk was indeed useful,
and his company has been providing Bordens condensed milk
for more than 120 years now.
On his grave, the epitaph reads, I
tried and failed, I tried again and again, and succeeded.
He faced plenty of temptations to go off track, and plenty of
But you can accomplish tremendous things
when you keep your eyes on the goal.
Read the next chapter: Unremitting
Resolution Can Accomplish What Seemed Impossible
This article is part of a series on Slotralogy.
Read the first section here: Slotralogy