Focus is the object of your current attention. All of your thoughts and actions are directed by your focus. If you are most interested in new customers, then that is where your attention will be focused. If you are most interested in creating loyalty, your attention must be focused on existing customers. The outcome of your effort is always a reflection of your focus. Focus affects customer loyalty in three ways:
How you think about yourself and your business.
How you think about your customers.
How your customers think about you.
First, let's examine how focus affects the way you think. The human brain and how we think can be separated into two categories: conscious and subconscious. The subconscious portion of the brain controls the automated functions of our bodies. It governs body temperature, controls digestion, dilates and contracts the pupils of the eye, regulates heart rate, adjusts metabolism, and manages all functions of our physical being. This part of the brain also records our memories. The subconscious brain retains every experience and thought we have from birth till death.
On one level of consciousness, it may be hard to believe that there is actually a record of our every experience and thought. Under normal circumstances most of us have little ability to remember experiences from long ago; however, in extreme circumstances when there is little distraction, people have been known to recall with absolute clarity long forgetten events and experiences.
I have known several people who were prisoners of war held captive in Vietnam. During their confinement, with nothing to occupy their minds, they spent their time thinking of past events. Some of these men spent several years in prison. In their minds they reexamined everything that had taken place in lives. As amazing as it may seem, these men remembered long-forgotten poems from their childhood. Poems that they had not thought of in many years returned to their consciousness. They learned they could recite these poems line for line. Bible passages and foreign language words and phrases emerged after deep thought. Everything they had ever learned was still available to them, only it was buried deep in their subconscious minds.
Of equal importance in understanding the subconscious mind is the recognition that this part of our brain is not rational. The subconscious mind records everything without judging the information. It is as if our subconscious mind is a tape recorder. It records information without validating importance or truthfulness. As soon as our subconscious mind accepts an idea, it proceeds to put it into effect immediately. It works by association of ideas and uses every bit of knowledge that we have gathered in our lifetime to bring about its purpose.
For example, you are getting ready to walk out the door. You usually leave your keys on the table by the door, but you look at the table and your keys are gone. You announce, "I can't find my keys." Your subconscious mind takes this information and immediately uses its full power to prevent you from finding your keys. As long as you repeat the phrase, "I can't find my keys," you won't find them.
If instead you would have said, "I don't see my keys, but I'll find them in a minute." Your subconscious mind would recognize this command and immediately use its full power to locate your keys.
The subconscious mind is somewhat like a vending machine. If you deposit the right amount of money, the vending machine gives you a candy bar. The vending machine isn't rational; it only does what it is told to do. You could cram a $100 bill into the vending machine and it wouldn't give you anything. Give it 50 and it gives you the candy bar. The subconscious mind, like the vending machine, is irrational. The subconscious mind cannot compare information and make decisions.
The conscious mind is rational; it compares information and makes decisions. It is forever making comparisons and judging and assessing the validity of every thought and experience. The conscious mind can only deal with one thought at a time; however, these single thoughts are being processed at lightning speed.
We can compare the conscious and subconscious minds by thinking of a large ship. On the bridge of the ship is the captain; the captain is our conscious mind. His job is to make sure that the ship reaches its destination. The captain is considering the speed of the ship, the wind, ocean currents, and the ship's proximity to land. He compares all this information before he gives a command to the men working below deck in the engine room. The men in the engine room represent our subconscious mind. Their job is to follow orders. They don't know where the ship is going; they only follow orders. If the captain says full speed ahead, the engine room opens the throttle wide. They don't know if the ship is close to rocks or shallow water, or even what direction the ship is traveling, they only follow the orders of the captain.
Here's the part that is most useful: While the subconscious mind is doing an infinite amount of things simultaneously, the conscious mind only deals with one thought at a time. You determine each of the thoughts being processed by your conscious mind.
Let's examine one more element of how we think before we apply this information to our quest for loyal customers. The reticular activating system controls which part of the mind will deal with a given issue. For example, in the morning you put on a wristwatch. While you are attaching the watch, your conscious mind is in control of your thoughts. This part of your brain is monitoring the procedure to make sure the watch is fastened properly and won't fall off. It told you which arm to put the watch on, detects the tightness of the band, and everything else associated with this task.
Once you have attached your watch, the reticular activating system moves all thoughts about your watch to your subconscious mind. If you had to always think about your watch, you would not be able to do anything else. You couldn't work, read a book, or have a conversation because you would be totally occupied with your watch. But the reticular activating system will notify you if the anything unusual happens. If the band breaks or the strap comes undone, the reticular activating system immediately sends a message to your conscious mind notifying you to redirect your attention away from whatever you're doing and take care of the watch.
You can see the reticular activating system at work when you buy a new car. For example, you buy a blue Buick thinking it will be the only one in your neighborhood. On the way home from the dealership, every other car you see is a blue Buick. The reticular activating system has noticed the importance of your decision and is on guard for all blue Buicks. Because the reticular activating system is working at all times, you are free to use your conscious mind for whatever purpose you choose. You do not choose the activities of your subconscious mind, but you are in total command of your conscious mind. You choose what you think about and what you focus on.
This ability to focus is the determining factor of everything that happens in your life. Albert Einstein stated the whole matter succinctly when he said, "The world we see is the world we are." The psychologist Denis Waitley said, "The world we see is the only world we know." In other words, our inner world represents our habitual thinking, beliefs, opinions, imagery, training, and indoctrination. We are perpetually projecting this inner state of mind onto people, conditions, and events. We look at people and conditions through the content of mental imagery. Everything we see and experience is filtered and bent through the prism of our minds. You might say that the whole world turns between your ears. If we see the world as hostile, we will live in a hostile world. If we see the world as wondrous, we will be filled with wonder and curiosity.
It is the thoughts that habitually occupy our minds that determine our world. Our deepest thoughts determine the world we see because what we think about becomes objectified in our lives. What we think about is what we see. We control what we think about and, therefore, control what we see. Ultimately, what we see becomes our reality. Our deepest thoughts are objectified in our lives.