More Bang For Your Buck

More Bang For Your Buck June 25, 2015


by Dave Martin

Have you ever fired a rifle? Better yet, have you ever fired a shotgun? A shotgun cartridge contains hundreds of tiny pellets. All these pellets are packed tightly into a large casing, and, when fired, the casing opens and the pellets are propelled in multiple directions in a powerful explosion created by a large amount of gunpowder. The opening of the barrel of a shotgun is huge in order to allow all these little pellets to “spray” outward as they exit the barrel of the gun, giving at least one of those pellets a high probability of striking a moving target at a close range. The large amount of gunpowder causes the shotgun to make an extremely loud noise, and the powerful kick of the gun is the simple result of the law of physics: great energy is created in order to spray all these pellets outward with force, and the energy creates a recoil that is incredibly strong.

The shotgun is designed this way in order to give the hunter the maximum possibility of striking a moving target. And he doesn’t even need to aim that accurately in order to be successful. But the shotgun has an obvious disadvantage: The farther the pellets travel, the farther they spread apart, and the farther they travel, the slower they travel. Consequently, the shotgun is very effective at close range, but its range is extremely limited. As soon as the pellets travel a few feet, they lose their velocity and fall harmlessly to the ground.

The rifle, on the other hand, has a much smaller cartridge with a much smaller load of gunpowder. The rifle makes very little noise when it is fired, and it has virtually no recoil because it expends very little energy. Nevertheless, the tiny cartridge that is fired from a rifle has a range of about 1 mile and is very deadly. Why? Because a rifle cartridge fires a single piece of lead, not a large number of pellets. The single cartridge exits the rifle through a tiny hole in the end of the gun, giving it precise direction as it spins out of the end of the barrel. The lead pellet follows a straight path from the barrel of the gun to its target, and it impacts its target at a high velocity and with incredible accuracy. As a good friend of mine once put it, “A rifle, properly aimed, can pick a housefly off a fence post at 50 yards.”

The energy created by the rifle is not consumed by spraying pellets all over the place; the energy of the rifle is reserved for propelling a single piece of lead at a precise target. And the power of the rifle is not consumed in the first instant it is fired; the rifle is constructed to be effective at greater distances, to be much more accurate, and to concentrate its undiluted force on one stationery object.

Thus is the power of focus. Because of the lack of focus, the powerful force of a shotgun is severely limited at greater distances. Because of the principle of focus, the less powerful force of a rifle is intensified at greater distances. The rifle is more deadly and more accurate from long distances because the rifle was designed to be focused on a specific target. The shotgun is less deadly and less accurate from long distances because the shotgun was not designed for focus. Instead, the shotgun was designed for the hunter who is not aiming at any specific target.

Are you aiming at something specific in your life? Are you focused on a particular purpose or a particular goal? If you’re not aiming at anything in particular with your life, if you’re just shooting into the air, hoping to be fortunate enough to make a significant impact, then you are a lot like the shotgun in my illustration. You are trying to make as much noise as possible by scattering yourself in as many directions as possible with as much of a kick as possible. But if you want instead to do something meaningful and enduring with your life, you need to become more like the rifle. You need to be focused.

Successful people, like the rifle in this illustration, are not necessarily more powerful than unfocused people. In fact, they are often less powerful. But because they are focused, these people are able to squeeze more out of themselves than their counterparts who are not focused. In fact, for the most part, highly successful people are just average people with a focus. They have learned to hone in upon a single target and to expend all their internal “gunpowder” in an effort to propel their lives forward toward a single, defined target.

If you study the lives of accomplished people, you will soon learn that every great person has a focus. Focus equals direction. Focus also equals power and strength, because focus better harnesses the attributes that one has in hand and pools those limited resources in order to more effectively achieve a goal. Unfortunately, most people are not focused in their lives and particularly in their approach to the future. In fact, most people live totally frantic and scattered lives, and they feel like they are expending great amounts of energy while never striking any real target.

Have you ever worked all day long, but at the end of the day you just couldn’t remember anything meaningful that you did? Have you ever felt exhausted at the end of a long day, but at the end of that day you really couldn’t say that you had done anything significant to advance your dreams or push your passions forward? Feelings like this are typical, because most people feel this way most of the time. And the reason they feel this way is because their lives are devoted to what’s urgent instead of what’s important. Their lives are devoted to a daily series of emergencies rather than the execution of a plan. Day by day, the activities in their lives increase, but they walk around with an aching realization that they aren’t really getting anything done. They feel like time is marching on but that they’re making no meaningful progress in life, that their lives are nothing more than physical existence. The problem is that their lives lack focus.

Everything significant that has ever been accomplished in this world was accomplished by a maniac on a mission. Whether with noble or evil intent, the real movers and shakers throughout history have been individuals who have possessed a singular focus in life that compelled them to expend every moment of their waking lives and every ounce of their intelligence and creativity to achieve one great goal. The person with focus is virtually an unstoppable force. The powers of nature, the realities of time, and the opposition of other people may slow him down, but, in the end, he will prevail, because he will not relent until “that thing” which consumes him comes to life. In the same way, the person who desires to be great must bring his life into order. He or she must develop a focus. Jesus said, “When thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light” (Luke 11:34, KJV). The ability to focus on one primary and overriding objective without the blight of distraction is the ability to do great things and to rise above the fray.

Because you are created in the image of God, I am convinced that you can achieve anything, be anything, and build anything you put your mind to. But the harsh realities of this world won’t allow you to do everything that interests you. If you truly want to be great, therefore, you are going to have to focus your limited time and resources upon that singular passion that most deserves your time and your attention. In the Bible, James said, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8, KJV). He “is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6, KJV).  And this observation is still true today. If you divide your heart, you will divide your effectiveness. But if you focus your heart upon something specific, nothing can take that away from you.

Use your God-given talents to create the future you were designed to live. Identify and embrace the unique ability that is yours, then focus upon the development of that gift and its application in your life. Use your primary strength as God intended you to use it, to enrich the lives of others and to propel your own life from where it is right now to where you know it can go. Stop spreading yourself so think and aim at the target. Remember: You can do anything you want to do with your life, but you cannot do everything. You need to focus.

unknown (1)Dr. Dave Martin is America’s foremost Christian success coach and the founder of Dave Martin International. His book, Another Shot, is available at and at bookstores everywhere.


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