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Focus and Enthusiasm

Approximately 50,000 – yes, as you may already be aware that’s the number of thoughts, according to psychologists, we have each day. That’s a lot of thinks!


Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try. – Theodor Geisel

Approximately 50,000 – yes, as you may already be aware that’s the number of thoughts, according to psychologists, we have each day.

That’s a lot of thinks! Just do the math: that’s 2,083 thoughts every hour or about 35 thoughts every minute and around half a thought every second.

I know how can you have half a thought?

Then again, maybe that’s the derivation of the often heard saying – ‘You know what? I have half a mind to …!’

The famous author of the classic book ‘Alice in Wonderland’, C.S. Lewis, once said “We have the tendency to think and feel and not act.”

That’s true, isn’t it? With the flood of thoughts and feelings going through our brain every day, how can we possibly act upon even a small percentage of them?

Fortunate are those who discipline themselves to take action on their predetermined goals, which are aligned with their life’s purpose.

James Allen cut clear to the point when he said “Above all, be of single aim; have a legitimate and useful purpose, and devote yourself unreservedly to it. Let nothing draw you aside.”

Having a single aim and clear purpose for our life allows us to harness our many thoughts. I think that kind of focus has a settling effect on our brain.

Because are myriad thoughts are corralled around the specific plan for our life, we are more energized and in control.

Having a single aim for our life is so important, isn’t it?

Last month, at the annual teachers’ convention in Calgary, I took in a session featuring a famous Canadian, Cassie Campbell, as the guest speaker. Of course, Cassie is renowned for captaining Team Canada’s women’s hockey team to two Olympic gold medals in 2002 and 2006.

The gist of Cassie’s hour-long talk was about leadership and teamwork, and how individuals who have a determined focus, combined with a strong work ethic, can make significant progress towards their goals. Ms. Campbell impressed all of us with her passion for being the best in her athletic and professional life.

On the second day of the convention I was similarly impressed with another featured speaker, Murray Banks, from the State of Vermont. This gentleman is a consummate motivational speaker who also has a strong athletic background (namely, skiing and triathlon).

Mr. Banks is also a former teacher and school administrator who spoke in an entertaining fashion about the power of focus and enthusiasm. He really hit home the point about the importance of using our teaching style in such a way as to fully engage learners in the classroom.

According to Mr. Banks, the great teachers are those who not only have a passion for their craft, but are also, by their animated enthusiasm, able to ignite enthusiasm for learning in their students.

Did you ever have a teacher like that? I mean the kind of teacher who was not only enthusiastic about his or her work, but besides that, one of their main concerns was finding ways to make you feel important.

Kathy Davis once said this about being a positive influence on youth. “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove … but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”

Feb. 28, in my Grade 11 English e-live class, we were discussing the writing of the famous American author, E.B. White. Earlier last month we had looked at one of his essays called ‘A Boy I Knew’.

Back in 1969, Mr. White had this to say about the craft of writing. “A writer should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.”

When I think about what it takes to be a great teacher, and the kind of teacher Murray Banks spoke about, the beautiful thoughts of E.B. White on writing are very apropos. Would not the same thinking apply to the subject of teaching?

With all apologies to E.B. White, ‘A teacher should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Truly effective teachers do not merely reflect on and interpret course content and life lessons, they, by their exemplary model, shape their students to be difference makers in their own lives’.

Leonard Quilty is a Teacher with the Center for Learning@Home in Okotoks, Alberta. He can be reached by e-mail at ‘’.

Organizations: Murray Banks, Team Canada, Center for Learning

Geographic location: Wonderland, Calgary, Vermont Okotoks Alberta

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