Sonia Sotomayor: Clarity and Focus

sonia sotomayor.jpgWhen I left my position as a magazine editor in New York City to come to teach at The University of Texas, my publisher told me that I was the most focused person she knew.

Her comment gave me pause. I had noticed that most of my colleagues spent the day chatting and then had to stay into the evening to get their work done. I left at 5pm each day, and never missed a deadline. But I had never thought about my capacity for focus, as such.

Many years later, I recognize my need for depth of focus. As a coach, I am required to be 100% present, and at the same time thinking analytically and strategically. I don’t like feeling scattered. When things get too fractured and weightless, I re-ground myself by reading a book. A long, heavy, non-fiction book with pages I actually turn.

That said, reading this bit of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s interview in the February 11 issue of Time magazine makes me feel like an amateur:

Q: You were so restless as a child, your nickname was Aji, “hot pepper.” Why pick a profession that requires sitting and listening to long arguments?

A: When I am concentrating, I can be fixed in place for hours. In fact, there was a joke in my office that everybody would come and chat outside my door because they knew no matter how loud they talked, if I was concentrating, it would not disturb me at all.

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