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Focus — Why It’s Vital For Success

And Why People Are Losing Their Ability To Achieve it
why focus is so important

The Secret to Success

To accomplish anything difficult, we need to be focused. When we are unfocused and distracted, we may be able to do easy things, but we often make mistakes and blunders and create problems rather than solve them. To do difficult and important things well, we need to be focused.

In 1852, the Rev. Charles Marriott gave a sermon where he preached “Singleness of Purpose is The Secret to Success”, drawing upon a lesson he learned in his religion. That lesson was: we will be empowered and possessed by that which we put first in our life. When we focus on that one thing, we will be powered by extraordinary energy to realize it.

Later, in the 1920’s, Napoleon Hill taught this in his classic “Laws of Success” and then in “Think and Grow Rich”. Even later, Bill Willson taught it in his 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. With countless documented cases over the years, we know that these men taught people how to overcome great obstacles and achieve great things, things that many had thought were impossible.

The lesson: what we focus on taps an almost magical power to bring it about, to help us achieve solutions and accomplishments that had been beyond our reach. You have probably also heard it referred to as a metaphysical “Law of Attraction”.

In my early business career, I discovered that in the very early morning, before anyone else arrived, in the dark with only my writing pad illuminated, magical things would happen. I developed ideas and plans that flowed like a fountain. I created plans and imagined things I had never thought of, and experienced a drive and desire to get them done that strained against the bounds of reality. When others arrived, they seemed to be in slow motion and could not catch up.

I had discovered the power of focus and undistracted attention to a singular purpose. Later, I was able to apply it, along with other lessons learned, to solve my 25 year obesity problem, lose 140 pounds permanently, shift from being a 40-year-old college dropout to a holder of undergraduate and graduate degrees, become a licensed health professional, develop a network of therapists using my weight loss methods, and author a book and audiobook that teaches others how to solve their weight problem. The lessons learned not only changed my life, but thousands of others. It could change your life too.

Perhaps the most important lesson: stop being scattered and distracted and get focused.

The mental magic phenomena. It’s real.

In the training I’ve engaged in as a mental health counselor and therapist, I’ve made some very interesting discoveries in the study of clinical hypnotherapy.

When we are relaxed and extremely focused, we can slip into an altered state of consciousness that generates phenomena that does not occur in normal wakefulness. It is not sleep, but it’s not normal wakefulness either. It is a natural experience that usually happens routinely if we are not stressed and distracted. It was what happened to me when I arrived before anyone else, before people started chatting, the phone started ringing and I was being pulled in a hundred different directions.

This altered state is called “trance”, “meditation”, “being in the zone” or “focused”, depending on what frame of reference you are using. Scientists have documented it by measuring brain waves that show us activity in the brain. When we are in this focused and relaxed state, the brain waves are different than when we are asleep, and different than when we are awake. Not only are the brain waves different, but other physiological conditions are different too.

These phenomena that occur in this state are quite remarkable, almost magical. With this altered state, we can improve performance in sports, the arts or business, performing flawlessly and effortlessly, experiencing creativity and execution that is genius. We can turn off the experience of physical sensation, even pain, such as when we are having dental work done. We can improve physical health, achieving with the mind what we used to think could only be done with drugs. We can set our mind on problem-solving in our sleep, so we wake up with a solution. We can set our mind to move toward goals in ways we are not even aware of, our “luck” improving as we come up with ideas we hadn’t thought of before and opportunities present themselves that are quite serendipitous.

It seems we tap into a source of energy and genius, a consciousness within ourselves, other than the ordinary one when we are not focused. In fact, some, like some who frame this experience as meditation, think that we become connected with a consciousness greater than our own. When we are focused like this, we access power and knowledge not available to us otherwise.

How We Prevent This “Higher Consciousness”

Simple. If you live in a way where you are constantly distracted, scattered and stressed, never giving yourself a chance to be quiet and alone without the chatter, you will never experience this higher consciousness. If you are constantly attentive to your smartphone, email, texts and newsfeeds, you’ll never discover what it is.

Before I discovered the benefit of arriving early and being alone in the quiet, I, like most others, came in to be greeted by the phones ringing and people needing my attention. Often times, before I knew it, it was noon. I had been busy, but it was like running in place. I was getting nowhere.

Today, people walk around with their smartphone going off all the time, calling for their attention every few seconds. They multitask, as if they were a computer, intentionally avoiding focusing on any one thing more than a second or two. I’ve been advised that smartphone users spend less than two seconds on most content, the attention span of a gnat. If that becomes habitual, we have someone unable to focus. It’s a case of learned attention deficit disorder.

In the past few years, we have created a lifestyle of being stressed and distracted rather than relaxed and focused. With this, we never experience that altered state of consciousness I was describing, or the accompanying phenomena that had been a regular part of life prior to being stressed and scattered.


Hans Selye is the doctor who was the first to demonstrate biological stress. He taught the world what it did to us physiologically. He defined stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”.

When you have to be ready to respond to a demand, you experience a state of tension, of physiological and psychological stress, a readiness to respond.Unrelieved, it can cause all sorts of problems. I discovered this in 1991 when I was one of the few people to walk around with a cell phone attached at the hip as an on-call crisis intervention counselor. Even when nothing was going on, if I was on-call, I knew the cell phone might sound and demand my attention at any moment. I was not relaxed for the entire time I made myself available to respond, even when I slept. When my shift was over and I was without the cell phone, only then could I relax. When I was at the beach where no one could interrupt me, I was able to experience an even greater relaxation, unavailable to all demands.

If you live a life with a device that calls your attention all the time, your body responds with every chirp or bing, and you live in a constant state of stress and distraction. If you have the phone next to the bed and you know it’s on and might sound, you live in a constant state of stress, even when you sleep. If you are scrolling through newsfeeds and multitasking through your day, you never focus on anything for more than a few seconds.

There is a good possibility that you have never experienced this state of consciousness I described that occurs when you are relaxed and focused, the magical “zone” that artists and athletes describe where they are inspired to create flawlessly, that meditators say you need for 20 minutes-a-day to perfect your health, to really heal in all ways. Not even for a second.

Getting relaxed and focused everyday, for as long as possible, can produce miracles. Being stressed and scattered can make you sick. That’s why getting relaxed and focused is so important. And people today are losing their ability to achieve it, living the way we do, always attentive to our devices, always multitasking, always distracted.

Get relaxed and focused every day, away from the world and its noise for a while. Make a habit of it. It could generate your miracles.

Why Now Is the Perfect Time to Lose Weight

best time to lose weight

February 2017 is absolutely the best time in history for you to permanently solve your weight problem. Here’s why:

1) Summer is coming!

If you start now, you can lose 30 to 70 pounds or more by the time your summer vacation starts. Whether you use my method or some other science-based approach, count on a much happier summer, feeling slim with a new outfit or two, a spring in your step and vacation photos you feel good about. Don’t put it off. Read some of my clients’ and readers’ comments about my method and my book and audiobook to see what I’m talking about.

2) There are more low-calorie, great-tasting foods available than ever before. The marketplace is exploding with new products to make weight loss easier.

The food industry has stepped up to the plate (no pun intended) and done a great job answering our demand for food and services to help us lose weight, maximizing enjoyment and convenience and eliminating the sense of deprivation.

Today we have Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones and Healthy Choice frozen dinners, all around 300 calories — easy, tasty and low calorie meals when we are too tired or rushed to fix something. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’s spray makes vegetables taste great with almost no calories. Walden Farms makes dressings without calories so we can have a scrumptious salad and save our calories for meat and potatoes. Egg Beaters makes it so we can have twice the scrambled eggs for the same calories and Hellman’s makes it so we can have sandwiches with mayo without breaking the budget. Splenda helps us have rich coffee in the morning without wasting lots of calories on sugar, and diet soda lets us have something besides water with lunch and during the day without worrying about how many calories we’re getting.

Restaurants are putting the caloric values on their menus, making it much easier to eat out. They are also offering more and more items to fit the caloric requirements to lose weight. I used to avoid eating out because it was such a pain to try to figure out the calories at restaurants –it was so much easier to eat at home. Now I can enjoy eating out without the stress and without gaining weight. There has never been a time like this before. It’s the perfect time to lose weight.

3) No festive holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s to throw you off track.

No explanation necessary.

4) We live in a time of easy access to all the qualified information and assistance you need.

Because of the recent intense focus on the obesity epidemic, we are seeing more legitimate research on weight loss than any time in history. There has never been a better time to lose weight. Good scientific information is as close as your laptop or smartphone, as long as you are careful about the validity of the information.

Technology itself can be a tremendous help. Many of my clients are now using their smartphones to track their calories. They love it. There are hundreds of apps available to download and many are free. This terrific help probably did not even exist the last time you seriously tried to solve your weight problem.

5) You are smarter, more knowledgeable, more mature, stronger, more determined and better equipped than the last time you tried to lose weight.

The “you” that exists today knows a lot more than the old you, not just in facts, which is true, but in wisdom and maturity too. You’ve tried and failed in the past, and learned things that cannot be learned any other way. When I finally solved my weight problem, losing over 100 pounds for good, my success was due largely to what I had learned from all my failed attempts.

When we were childish, we wanted someone else to solve our weight problem for us, but no one else can. We wanted to lose the weight without doing the work and giving up what stands in the way. You know differently now. With what you know today, and what you can learn this spring, this is the perfect time to lose weight. That day has come.

Order my book The Anderson Method, or call one of my therapists for one-on-one training, and get started now.

The Two Best Weight Loss Ideas, From Weight Loss Successes

Clients and readers from all over the world losing weight cite two specific techniques as having almost mystical power for them, both techniques from the field of cognitive psychology. They engage both the power of “cognitive restructuring” and the hypnotic power of suggestion and imaging.


In my method, “fasting” refers to abstaining from anything with calories between planned meals. Planning ahead is an essential technique. We don’t do spontaneous no-rules eating. Having a plan engages imaging and suggestion, triggering hypnotic-grade power to help you actualize what you have imagined you’ll be doing, rather than being open to other suggestion and hyper-vulnerable to urges.

We structure our lives in a very black and white fashion. Several times a day, we have our planned meals, the time and content entirely our choice, and the rest of the time we are fasting. Several time a day, the eating switch is on, and we have our meal, and the rest of the time, it’s off, and nothing goes into our body except non-caloric beverages.

Thinking of it as fasting is a form of cognitive restructuring called reframing, changing the meaning and experience of what we are doing. Rather than experiencing a woe-is-me deprivation of doing without, a period devoid of anything good or meaningful, we are actively engaged in the very important devotion of fasting, burning calories and fat, and accomplishing something very important to us.

We’ve borrowed fasting from the spiritual traditions, casting our activity not as a “nothing” period without something satisfying, but as a sacred activity, full of meaning. It’s a devotion of ourselves to something greater than ourselves, our health, in a holistic sense.

Clients rave about the power they derive from this, their new ability to abstain, and the exhilaration, thinking they actually feel their body burning off calories and fat. It’s a mental experience that must be experienced to be understood, something I and my clients talk about and contemplate with wonder. It is one of the two ideas clients consistently remark as being an almost magical help to them.

Hunger means you’re burning fat.

This is another cognitive restructuring, reframing technique. We change the way we experience hunger, the meaning of it and the actual experience of it.

Feeling hunger is a normal human experience, nothing to fear or avoid. I didn’t always think this way. I remember when I saw it as a reason to eat something right now! It was an excuse, too. The dietician told me to listen to my body, and my body said to eat! The problem was, it said it far too often, and it told me to eat a lot, so that I became fat.

I used to say I was starving. I’d say I was dying of hunger! What I was telling myself caused me to experience something awful, to feel awful. Something in me heard this and responded accordingly. It always rescued me from this terrible suffering in the nick of time! Unfortunately, it made me fat.

What we tell ourselves has power, almost like a hypnotist whispering in our ear. When we change the script, the suggestions, our experience changes.

When we undereat, eating less than we burn so that we start burning our stored fat, it’s normal to feel hunger. We don’t have to be afraid of it or work frantically to avoid it. We need to experience it in a new way, not as a terrible torture, but as a sign of success, as evidence that we are burning fat off our body, losing weight. If we ate something to stop it, we’d stop the burning. We don’t want to stop the fat burning! We want to keep up the fat burning! Burn, baby, burn! Hunger means you’re burning fat!

We can drink a glass of water to quiet the hunger. In fact, what we experience in our brain (where we actually experience everything) as hunger is often actually a need for water. Have a drink of water and continue to fast until that next meal you have planned. Then give yourself a pat on the back for abstaining, for your strength! You’ll make a habit of it.

Successful weight loss is more about what you think than what you eat.

These two techniques are the ideas most often cited by my clients as being surprisingly helpful. They give them power that they hadn’t had before, and developing this power is more about learning how to operate your mind than simply dieting or “making up your mind”. Therapeutic Psychogenics is a term I coined to identify what really gives a person the ability to successfully lose weight and control their weight. It’s about using behavioral technique to change the way we think, feel and act, rather than just using “will power”, which never worked for me. There are a lot more in this bag of tricks, but these might get you started.

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He was an obese heavy smoker and workaholic until his early thirties, and burned out, but survived and changed direction. He changed in many ways, among them, losing 140 pounds permanently. Health, in a holistic way, is now his mission. He’s trained a network of therapists in his methods and he is the author of The Anderson Method of Permanent Weight Loss.

Why Your Company Should Help Employees With Their Weight Problem

weight loss wellness programs

photo: obesity

Most wellness programs approach weight control with exercise and nutrition programs, which don’t address the underlying causes of and solutions to your employees’ weight problem. Helping them with a clinically sound behavioral solution will help them lose weight and be healthier, and will also help them to be better problem-solvers and goal attainers.

Why Your Company Needs to Help Employees With Their Weight Problem:

1) Weight management is the single most important issue in an employee’s health. Excess weight and obesity is the single greatest cause of preventable disease and premature death in the American workforce. It affects every aspect of their health and well-being.

2) They don’t know what to do to solve the problem. They may think they do and you may too, but chances are, you don’t. Neither do most physical trainers and dieticians. That’s because for most people, it’s a behavioral disorder, similar to an addiction or gambling problem. Just knowing what’s got to change and even wanting to change is not enough. Intelligence, good character and “will power” are not enough. There are other powers at work, and to overcome them, you need to know how. That’s what behavioral therapy training teaches.

3) Because many health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue and mobility impairment improve greatly with weight loss, your employees who lose weight will exhibit more energy, positive attitude and higher productivity, as well as less illness, diminished productivity and absenteeism.
A sound behavioral approach, including pyschoeducation and training in cognitive behavior techniques, will help them become better managers of their emotions and attitudes and the behavior related to them.

4) The problem-solving, time management, stress management and goal-setting skills learned will be applicable to all the problems and objectives they have, on and off the job. They will become better at handling problems and getting things done.

5) The improved health, sense of well-being, self-confidence, self-esteem and personal mastery will make them more effective and motivated on a long term basis.

6) The biggest reason to help them is that they need the help and there are few able to give it, other than your company. And it’s the right thing to do. You’ll be proud and thankful that you made it happen.

By all means, promotion of exercise, gym memberships and nutrition classes are a great benefit to the employees who take advantage of them, but the very best way to help overweight and obese employees is to give them access to comprehensive behavioral approaches to weight management.

This article first published at

The Gods of Enthusiasm And Success

In another time, another life, before I veered off into the path of becoming a psychotherapist, later becoming known as “The Weight Loss Guru”, I was the CEO of a small chain of furniture stores. One day, while touring one of the stores, I spotted a sign the store manager had posted in the break room: “Those who are not fired with enthusiasm soon will be!”

The scary sign had appeared soon after a sales trainer I had hired preached that enthusiasm was the single most important ingredient for success in sales, as well as every other aspect in the operation of a business. My manager’s sign was not quite the lesson I had hoped would be remembered, but alas, it was a truism. Success, and even survival, were not possible without this vital ingredient.

Today, I am known as the clinician who “healed thyself” when I lost 140 pounds permanently with The Anderson Method, a weight loss program that has become recognized nationally and spread internationally. In the years since that business lesson, I have become an expert in human behavior and dysfunction and teach recovery from the most difficult of challenges. The importance of that lesson about enthusiasm has only multiplied.

In that lesson we learned that in order to be really successful, in order to be fully alive and fulfilling our true potential, we needed to be filled with real enthusiasm. Success, especially with difficult things, requires us to summon all the energy we can muster, and invest it in the mission. We cannot be even remotely apathetic, “cool” or blasé about things. And we learned that enthusiasm referred to the spirit or God (Theos) within us (en+theos).

So, here we were, learning, from an established business trainer, that our success in business depended on a spiritual quality, energy that came from something inside us. It was not something that we needed to get. It was already in us, what made us alive. If we did not know it or sense it, getting it was a matter of getting in touch with it, becoming aware of it, giving life to it and drawing on it. Enthusiasm was not an intellectual thing, related to being smart or educated or skilled. It was a spirit. It was not something to be acquired from the outside world. It was an energy already within us, perhaps untapped, but waiting to be called upon and unleashed. What is it? How do we experience it? How do we put it to work? What are its’ characteristics?


Passion is feeling, emotion, strong emotion. Games and wars are not won by those without emotion, who are dispassionate about things. We must really care about what we are doing and be able to express that emotional investment through our words and actions. To tap and unleash enthusiasm, we need to feel it and express it, in no uncertain terms, not hold it back.


We need to be genuine. We can’t be faking it. Our passion has to be real, not an act. It has to come from the depths of our soul. If we sign on to a mission, to succeed, we have to believe in it, for real, not pretend. If you can’t be sincerely committed, you need to find a mission you can be passionate about. You have to care, really care about success in this mission. It’s not enough to say it’s important. There has to be integrity, where you mean what you say and say what you mean.


Desire has gotten a bad rap, but wanting or craving is a powerful drive that is the prime motive in many success stories. It’s something we feel from day one, and psychologists have said that “needs reduction” is what causes drive and motivation in us. It’s not an intellectual thing. It’s not something we create. It is part of our psyche that you feel when you spot an object of your desire, be it a love interest, an adornment, a car, a promotion, recognition, a house, a cupcake…. Desire. Wanting it badly.

Wanting springs as an energy from within and takes you with it, so that you dream about it, obsess about it, create ways to make it happen, and you can’t stop it. Sometimes, desires have gotten us into trouble, been harmful, sometimes led to big troubles. Some have said that desire is a sin, a mistake, something we should extinguish. But rather than snuff it out, we need to channel it. Constant craving for food when you are overweight has to go. But consistent strong desire for the well-being of yourself and your loved ones needs to be fueled.

We need to foster the desire for the things that will make our life and our world better — not greed that makes the world worse, but a passion for a better life, a better world. We need to channel that energy and activity to attainments and objects of desire that help instead of harm, that make life better, healthier, happier, whole. A desire for what is good is not a bad thing. Fuel it. Build a fire. Let yourself dream, imagine, crave and picture that which represents real success, so much that you can taste it. Build up a burning desire. That kind of desire and enthusiasm spring from the same well.


Enthusiasm is the natural experience when you love what you are doing. It is the fire you feel when you work for the benefit of what and who you love. It is the opposite of greed. It is the devotion of yourself to something greater than yourself. There is enormous endless energy there. Embrace it.

The Right Gods

Can one be enthused by greed, by hate? Certainly. We choose the spirit we choose to give life to. While we think that we possess spirit when we are enthused, the definition of enthusiasm is to possessed by the spirit. So, we better choose wisely. There are different outcomes with these different spirits within.

Commitment and Success

To commit to something, in the origin of the word, is to “join” or “send with”. When we honestly commit ourselves to a mission, a cause, a goal or to someone we love, we are giving our very selves, our souls, to that process, and there is an energy engaged beyond understanding. It wells up from within and powers us. It is not something only of our own making. It is enthusiasm. If done with the right spirit, it propels us to favorable outcomes (the definition of success) in line with those spirits, loves, missions and goals.

Do you want to be successful? Be enthused.

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He was an obese heavy smoker and workaholic until his early thirties, and burned out, but survived and changed direction. He changed in many ways, among them, losing 140 pounds permanently. Health, in a holistic way, is now his mission. He is the author of The Anderson Method of Permanent Weight Loss.