Focus! Focus! Focus!

My wife and I stayed recently at the Atwood House in Chillicothe, Ohio. Atwood House is owned and operated by Bill Hirsch, a former butler for President Nixon. In telling about attending to the President’s personal needs at Camp David, the one trait he stressed was Nixon’s ability to focus.

Bill told us that a responsibility he had each morning was to respond to the President’s request when he wanted coffee. Bill would place a cup of coffee on the President’s desk as he worked. More than one morning, he took the steaming cup of hot coffee, placed it on the desk, and left the room. Minutes later the President buzzed him and asked, “Where is my coffee?”  Bill simply took another hot cup of coffee in to the President, removing the cold one that the President hadn’t noticed. President Nixon was so focused that he had not been aware of Bill’s presence the first time.

In today’s environment of multi-tasking, all of us need to be reminded of the importance of focus. To be able to shut out distractions and not succumb to the temptation to check email or our cell phones every few minutes is a matter of self-discipline that we all need to practice. As Alexander Graham Bell said, “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”


Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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