We all use words in our daily life that have origins in the technical world. Thus those words are used as analogies of how it works. Focus is one of those analogies that can bear some scrutiny.
We often hear people say, “Focus with laser like precision.” First of all lasers by themselves don’t focus. They are known as collimated light which doesn’t deviate over a fairly long path. Laser beams can be large or small. I’ve built lasers that were 3 inches in diameter and others that were 1.5 mm. Lasers are sources of light not focusers.
Focusing of light is done with a lens. A lens bends the rays of light differently in the middle than at the edge. It makes all of these rays converge on a single spot. You can probably remember playing with a lens as a child using a hand held lens and a piece of paper and the sun. You moved your hand holding the lens until it focused the light so tightly that it burned a hole in the paper. That is focusing a source.
But did you know that the quality of the focus depends on the quality of the lens being used? If you took that hand held lens put it in a lens holder, focused it exactly on a piece of paper and then studied the spot at best focus you would see bright and dark spots inside the focus spot. These are caused by what we call aberrations of the lens. There are many kind of lens aberrations and that hand held lens would probably have most of them. There is a whole industry that creates ‘perfect’ lenses; what we call diffraction limited lenses to do very fine work.
Let’s go back to our analogy about focusing our minds on our work. As we saw in the physical optics case focus requires 1) a source 2) a lens 3) an imaging plane. Our analogy would imply that we need 1) energy to run the process 2) a well prepared mind, clear on what we are attempting and 3) an output that we desire.
So focusing is about having good energy to start with, a clearly stated outcome to bring to bear on the work and an output mechanism to bring forth what you have created. You need all three of these things to ‘focus’ on your work. Exhortations about focus need to keep these necessities in mind.
Clarity about focus comes from understanding the origin of the analogy.