Put a piece of paper out in the sun and nothing happens to it. Position a small magnifying glass above it, and it burns in a couple of seconds. Same energy, different focus…!
Where your focus goes, your energy flows…
As far as we know, there is no genetic component to business achievement. There is no person simply “born to succeed.” Those who have achieved massive success have practised two major elements: being intention-driven – no one has succeeded by accident – and remaining focused on the things that make the most difference.
Since the turn of the century, it’s been increasingly challenging to maintain our focus, given the proliferation of media channels and devices transmitting information.
Right now, with the global changes caused by the pandemic, it’s arguably the most difficult time in recent living memory to control focus. Managing our concentration to allow our enterprises to survive and thrive into the future is tough. But control it we must! Opportunities will still present themselves. Businesses and consumers may be more selective, but they will still need to spend money with someone.
Being aware of where our focus is at any one time gives us some clues on what changes we can make to move forward in business, and put more joy in our days (which I would argue is the primary purpose of running a business).
So…do you find yourself focusing mostly on:
What’s MISSING or what you HAVE?
- Are you dwelling on roadblocks, or brainstorming possible solutions?
- Are you frustrated by a lack of resources, or are you focusing on being more resourceful?
- Are you feeling alone, or seeking out assistance from other sources?
What you can’t CHANGE or what you CAN?
- Do you spend lots of time reading the news, or researching your market trends and what you need to learn to stay ahead? (HINT: be careful of headline news, it’s almost always bad! Media companies want your attention, and your brain is designed to pick up bad news first!)
- Do you find yourself complaining a lot about things beyond your influence: other people, politicians (be careful, misery loves company!), or improving your own skills?
- Are you spending a disproportionate amount of time following celebrities on social media (HINT: these folks are unlikely to care much about you), or seeking to build relationships with those who will help you advance?
PAST, PRESENT or FUTURE?
- Do you need to let go of a past mistake?
- Do you reminisce about “happier times” instead of making today better?
- Is there a past relationship that needs closure, or a relationship you need to repair now?
- Do you feel you’re drifting, or do you have definite short and long-term goals?
Yes, effective leaders spend substantial time focused on the future; however, they also take care to learn from the past without dwelling on it. Importantly, they also take stock of what’s happening now. Too much focus on the future and you miss today’s golden moments!
Quick note: If your main focus is on what’s missing, what you can’t change, and you’re dwelling on the past, do whatever you can to shift one of those parameters fast! Usually, talking to someone else helps.
Sub note: It’s tough to remain downhearted when you’re focused on someone else: their needs or concerns or how to make them happy.
Focus is critical for success, and we have more control over it that we appreciate. Answering the three questions above will give you a quick indication of where you’ve been directing your precious focus, and hopefully give you a smart tool to concentrate it better in the future.