The Focus Matrix: How To Catch Up And Pass Anyone In Anything

The Focus Matrix: How To Catch Up And Pass Anyone In Anything

June 28, 2019

Nobody starts out the best at something.

At first, there’s always many people ahead of us.

If we believe in the talent myth, then we’d just give up before even starting.

They have more talent than me. I’ll never catch up. 

Of course, this isn’t true.

But it stops many people in their tracks anyway.

If we don’t believe in that myth, what do we do then?

How do we catch up to people who are months or years ahead of us?

It actually isn’t hard. And these days, it’s getting easier and easier all the time.

All we have to do is focus.

In his amazing book Daniel Coyle opens with a story about a thirteen-year-old girl doing something amazing.

She learned a month’s worth of practice in six minutes.


First, it’s important to understand that she wasn’t a prodigy. She was just a regular girl with no special skills. She was described as mediocre at the time.

But when music psychologists Gary McPherson and James Renwick saw a video of this girl practicing, they were floored.

In front of their very eyes, the girl accelerated her learning speed by ten times.

Her method? Focus.

First, she listened to a song she liked (crucial). Then she took a deep breath and played a few notes. Then she stopped and stared at the paper. She frowned, narrowed her eyes, and stared at the paper some more. She leaned forward into the music sheet.

She was in optimum focus mode.

Then she went on, stopping and starting, going back and re-doing notes she missed.

She unconsciously slipped into “highly targeted, error-focused” practice. It’s how the best musician in the world would practice, and it’s how anyone can be the best at anything.

All told, the video was “six minutes of an average person entering a magically productive zone, one where more skill is created with each passing second.”

First we have to understand that our body posture helps our brains.

If we want to get into the 10x zone, we need to sit up, lean forward, and slightly frown.

This is what elite-level learning looks like.

Then we need to focus. Nowhere in this video does the girl stop and check a phone. There’s no chit chat. Or daydreaming.

It’s just her, her posture, her frown, and her focus. And when she did that, she learned a month’s worth of skill in six minutes.

Think about the implications.

Let’s say that, if we focus at this level, we can learn a month’s worth of skills in 15 minutes. We’ll assume we’re not as good as the video girl.

And let’s say that, with breaks, we could pull off three 15-minute focus sessions in a time block.

At the end of our practice, we’ve just gained 3 months of progress on the distracted person currently ahead of us.

If we practice five times a week like this, we’ve learned 15 months of skills in one week.

Using tennis as an example, if we can go to a clinic that allows us to do three fifteen-minute blocks of deep focus per practice, we can catch up to someone who started a year ahead of us in one week.

In two weeks, we can catch and pass someone who started two years ahead of us.

In a month, we can match the skill of someone who began four years ahead of us.

Here’s how fast we can go. This is the Focus Matrix:

  • One 15-Minute Focused Session 5x Per Week = Catch someone 5 Years Ahead in 3 Months
  • One 15-Minute Focused Session 3x Per Week = Catch someone 5 Years Ahead in 5 Months
  • One 15-Minute Focused Session 1x Per Week = Catch someone 5 Years Ahead in 1 Year, 2 Months

That’s the power of turbocharging our learning. We can catch up and pass almost anyone.

All we have to do is put our phones away and focus.

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.