Two Words that Create Focus Quickly
He just stood there, pleased with himself…
Our children played Tee Ball. Focus isn’t part of a kid between 4-6 years old. They wander around the outfield chasing butterflies, scratching themselves, and finding bugs in the dirt. Some just sit in the grass.
I’ll never forget one little player who surprised himself when he stood up to the tee and connected with the ball. He just stood there, pleased with himself.
The ball was a magnet. The infield was in chaos.
Moms and dads, sitting in the stands, yelled, “Run! run!” So the little fellow neatly laid the bat down and ran…straight to third base!
One excited player threw the ball at him. Thankfully she missed.
Finally, a coach pointed the wayward base runner toward first base. He joyfully trotted over the the unoccupied pitcher’s mound toward his new goal.
While he zigzagged, another player grabbed the ball and gave it a mighty heave. Who knows where?
By this time, the delighted base runner was gleefully jumping up and down on first base.
Unfocused leaders and employees:
- Passionately run around.
- Forget the big picture.
- Hit the ball once, but don’t follow through.
- Take the circuitous route.
- Need constant attention.
Three focus questions:
- What’s the most important thing you can do this morning?
- How can you bring out the best in others this morning?
- How will things be different if you/they succeed this morning?
The rubber hits the road when you add two focus-words to questions or statements – “this morning.”
Short-term deadlines create focus.
- Accelerates success.
- Maximizes resources.
- Unifies effort.
- Enables winning.
Some, perhaps many, on your team have the attention span of Tee Ball players. Frankly, I weave. Don’t you? But, leaders create and maintain focus.
What prevents focus?
How can leaders create focus?
What prevents focus? How can leaders create focus?
Part of what prevents focus, Dan, I think, is people living under the delusion that they can multitask. And the vast majority of people cannot. In trying to accomplish this they must divide their mind, intentions, activities, and therefore their focus in an ever-changing list of priorities. If one thing is a priority in this moment, this morning, then that one thing is where you need to direct your personal resources. That is focus.
Leaders can create focus by outlying a clear vision and prioritizing steps in terms of the sequence things need to get done.
More importantly, we do it as leaders and individuals by setting boundaries and learning to say, “No,” more often.
I’m sure it’s a paraphrase of someone’s quote, but if everything is important, has priority, then nothing does.
Thanks Martina. Fantastic insights. My favorite is, “saying no.” When we say yes to everything we dilute our impact. Focus enhances impact.
Thanks again for your insights.
Wouldn’t it be great Martina if we were all as good as we think we are?
We’re not? 😉
Ain’t that the truth Dan. “HEY, when do you sleep my friend”??? LOL
Wanting to jump in and just “get work done” hinders my ability to strongly focus.
I create better focus myself by starting the work day with meditation. When I share with someone that my best days are those that start with meditation and mini-planning sessions I then ask “how do you make sure you’re focused on your most important stuff first?”
You do now have me thinking that in line with my one word (giving), I should also ask how they’ve helped others lately. How might I do that tactfully (question to Dan & Fans of Dan)?
Thanks James. I hear you saying, “focus on achieving focus” 🙂
For me, unfocused is the natural state. Chasing rabbits is the easiest thing to do.
Well, here’s two!!!!!
Even more shocking cause I am a dude!!! Lol
Great Stuff Dan!! Great!!!
Here are two more
Getting goals set firmly in the grey matter with a dual coding technique, that is what I do for the folks!!
Folks can create focus at the beginning, a pattern interrupt…google it.
Prevent focus, a scattered mind, undisciplined mind, lack of dual coded mind I always say!!!
I want to help 1 million USA kids retain what they study up to 68%, kids of all ages. Anyone wants to help let me know.
Thanks Scott. I feel like you should focus. 🙂
Thanks! Dan! Hehe
Isn’t it sad? I want to help people. Want to help them retain whatever they want, up to 68%. It isn’t difficult, just use two senses in the learning process as opposed to one, simple.
I want to help 1 million kids have better lives. Can you imagine a kid graduating with an average of 28 points better? C to A? Give them a better start in life or not?
And those two aspirations get a thumbs down.
Besides how sad that is. how is it possible someone could thumbs down those two goals?
I guess a person who wants to stay stupid and doesn’t like kids.
Guess it takes all kinds to create a blog community. Go figure.
Scott – two worse words than “I’m pregnant”
what great advice! Thanks for the post
3 Focus ? Answers
1. Tell your family you love them.
Great focus Tim. Thanks
Yes….morning!! That’s the key. Start right!! A good start sets the trajectory and momentum for the rest of the day…especially with focus. I’ve recently reclaimed my mornings and it makes all the difference. Thanks Dan!
Good call Steve. Glad you stopped in today.
Funny how the little guy didn’t know what to do when he successfully hit the ball! So maybe the next question would be, if you achielve success this morning, what will you do this afternoon?
Agreed… I feel a large part of good leadership is staying ahead of your team, in essence showing them what’s next. “Lousy Leaders” as Dan calls them too often sit back, unengaged, and only jump in to critize.
Thanks Duane and Dan for the great example.
Thanks Duane. Lets start thinking and acting like we are going to succeed.
Excellant Daune. Making it there is only half of the equation, what you do once your there is ta whole other story. Steve
Coincidentally I just wrote a blog post this morning about ‘focus’ I wish I’d read this first – I love that 2 word addition. 🙂
Thanks stuartart. I read your post. I totally agree that multi-tasking doesn’t help focus or productivity. Thanks for being a regular here.
I always find stimulating, thought provoking info here Dan – keep it up. 🙂
Great article and even greater picture!
Another fantastic post. Lovely metaphor…
Will share this with my colleagues…this morning.
Your story, Dan, reminded me of another I experienced in LIttle League. We had a boy on the team; big, lumbering kid who was the catcher because that was the only place we could put him. At bat one time, he takes a swing and miss for strike three and starts to lumber back to the dugout. But the catcher missed the ball, so we are all yelling, “Run, X, Run!” At which he drops the bat, and runs…..right into the dugout and sits down!
Sometimes, what affects our focus is the wrong focus as well.
Thanks Paul. Love it. I sat here in my office chuckling.
Thats just too funny Paul, “I don’t care who you are”!!! Steve
I spent years in the dugout and bleachers as my son played T-Ball and Little League. It occurs to me that this little boy was very focused on getting his embarrassed self off the field as fast as possible. The team was trying to help him get back into the game but their directions only enhanced his faulty focus.
Guess that comes back to the whole leadership concept and what Dan is trying to tell us, doesn’t it! 🙂 If the yelling would have been “First Base, X, First Base,” instead of “Run, X, Run,” would the outcome possibly have been different?
Dan – Love the 3 focus questions! I printed and gave out to all my team this morning. Great way to start the day. Thanks.
Thanks Carrie. It’s a pleasure to be useful.
I enjoy what happens in a person’s mind when I ask them, “What’s the most important thing you can do this morning?” Even if we don’t have an answer, it gets the mind going. Best
Great post Dan! It seems in your story the lack of focus was caused by really not knowing how to win and what each member of the team does. I think in grown-up world, blame can also be placed on distractions like email, phone calls, and anything that can take the place of having to decide what’s most important and then doing it. I love watching little kids play sports – it’s hilarious.
It takes insight and courage to decide what’s important. Plus, we need to know our vision and mission, as well as values.
I think you’re right. We blame our distraction on lots of things. But, in the end, we’re distracted because we don’t know where we’re going.
Awesome points Dan.2 impactful “focus” words for me “Right now” along with having a walking “to-avoid” list. Often time we carry , “To-do” list & forget to carry “To-avoid” list in the world of dramatic distraction.We have Facebook , twitter,TV & many more attention seeking gadgets that are fighting for the pie of our attention.
Having Right amount of focus to Right things is becoming a competitive advantage in current economic situation..
Thanks for your regular blogs. I love them..
WIth lot of Respect & Gratitude
Thanks Pratyush. You are nailing it. I’m learning to listen with an “Am I prepared to take action on this” approach. If I’m not willing to do something, I don’t hang on to it… It’s a NOT TO DO item.
Thank for the good word
Good morning Dan
I got a nice ‘chuckle’ from todays post. I played quite a bit of ball in my youth, played back-to-back state title games in Babe Ruth only to turn down a college scholarship at Shippensburg to be a Marine. So, last year my son-n-law convinces me to help him coach my grandaughters Tee-Ball Team. I can relate to the circus like atmosphere most of the players displayed. At times, things were frustrating at best. I vowed never to coach Tee Ball again. And then as the season ends, we meet with the players to hand out trophies. As trohies were passed out every problematic player we had hugged me, thanked me for being thier coach, and said they could’nt wait to come back next year to play for me. As you may have guessed, “I’ll be coaching again this season”. Darn kids anyhow! Several of your comments today are compelling. (Unfocused Leaders), #3. Hit the ball once, but don’t follow through. In my 54 years I’ve watched many receive promotions due to solid work ethic and reliability only to rest on thier laurels while no longer pushing themselves toward growth and self-improvement. (Three focus questions:), #1. Whats the most important thing you can do this morning? Several years ago I implermented a ‘mantra’ to focus on what REALLY needs to be done next, my mantra, “The most important thing to do, is the most important thing to do”. This sharpens my focus while keeping the little things from stealing my time and energy. I love the addition of, “this morning” as it causes you to re-evalute yesterdays to-do-list and prioritise new issues. To answer the question, “What prevents focus”, I find that often unclear agendas and expectations leave people in a state of confusion and progress comes to a halt.
Good one my friend, “Cheers Dan”…
Thanks SGT. Your comment is a post within a post.
Those darn kids! But it does illustrate the power of being appreciated and feeling like we matter. We’ll put up with lots of junk if we feel like we are appreciated. Love that.
Re: prevents focus: One of the biggest screw up we make is allowing confusing or lack of clarity to hang around. I find it takes discipline and courage to push for clarity.
Dan this is just in time. I’ve been all over the place trying to write a new book proposal. When I got interest from a publisher, I said the proposal will be finished in two weeks. You are spot on about short deadlines increasing focus.
Thanks Marlene. Best wishes for the new book!
Here’s a link to Marlene’s current book: “Stop Workplace Drama” http://amzn.to/1405kqZ
This truly is an insightful post…on many levels. Yes, of course, it reminds us of the absolute significance of focus and the ramifications of lack of focus. And it gives us the buzz words to energize our efforts immediately…now!
At the same time, Dan’s writing spawned two additional thoughts in me. One comes from his gorgeous story and how the story was written. Do we, as leaders, talk like we write? Do we make our conversation–our dialogue vs. discourse–with our staff members as interesting (perhaps as anticipatory) as Dan did his story? Is it possible, and should we?
Another thought from today’s post. Does our job makes us happy, or do we bring “happy” from home to the workplace? As I was reading Dan’s story about this little boy–my mind was racing not only to the end but to my personal experiences–like how I used to get ready for the big game. Heck, I used to get all pumped up. I brought “game” to the game.
Thus, my question from whence begins success.
Thanks Rick… “I brought ‘game’ to the game” KaPOW!
You and Rick always bring your a games Dan. You keep me on my toes… Steve
Re: interesting – In my humble opinion Rick, yes we could and absolutley should. Our nation has drifted away from Character-Based Leadership-“building relationships with others while inspiring them to be & do thier best”. It is time for a ‘Leadership Revolution’! “Who’s with me”???
During this whole time while reading all these wonderful comments I’m thinking to myself, “Is this the most important thing I should be doing… this morning?”
Apparently it is 🙂
Thanks for the chuckle Rex!
Whoa. Last night I prayed for focus. This morning, the first thing I read was this article. Prayer works. And, I know exactly what has to get done THIS MORNING. Thank you!
Thanks Trisha. Wow…I feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself. Thanks and best for the journey.
Thank YOU! I even did the Brian Tracy thing and “ate that frog.” Wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be.
“Never doubt the ‘Power of Prayer’ Trisha”!
Hava great day!!!
I always liked these five words “May I count on you to …” they not only provide focus but also commitment.
Pow!! That’s awesome Larry.
Sorry, I guess that is six (6) words … oh well fingers faster than my brain
Great leaders don’t nesassarily have to know how to count Larry. “They simply have to know who they can count on”…LOL Steve
I need to get MY next blog article written this morning. 😃 Thanks, Dan.
Go for it Steven!
Ha ha , my first touchdown was after an 80 yard sprint to the wrong end of the field!
From Alice in wonderland, the Cheshire Cat
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where –” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
Enjoy your day, and thanks for the reminder this morning….
Thanks Richard. I wish I would have been there for that 80 yard sprint. I can just hear the sidelines. Sometimes when we are running in the wrong direction, shouts from the sidelines sound like cheers to keep running… hahaha
Great stuff Dan! Thank you for inspiriting us by encouraging us and warning us of an unfocused life. Totally agree on your two powerful words. My two words are like yours – “Morning Disciplines”. Seventeen years ago, I finally decided to just carved out the time to do what is most important for the day. Not “working” but “developing” My personal time gets me focused for the day. My “Morning Disciplines” is a two hour block of time that starts with spiritual development including reading, praying and journaling. After getting my heart prepared, I go for my daily run with my favorite teachers and pastors loaded on my iTunes so my mind can be challenged as I work out my body. As a leader, I really don’t have 2 hours a day, but I have realized that I can’t afford not to make the daily investment. It sets up my day to lead and serve at full capacity!
Morning Disciplines = Focused Day
Thanks Dan. Your comment makes me feel like rising up!
It’s so incredible that taking care of ourselves is the first step in serving others. Of course there are sacrifices. But, focusing on developing ourselves give our leadership more impact. Bam!
Dan your two hour sacrifice shows real dedication to true leadership. Hope you don’t mind if I steal your idea, “it’s uh good one”! Thanks Steve
I’m just trying to be useful. If you want to pay rather than steal, I take credit cards.
Roger that Dan. Next time, breakfast is on me…
Reblogged this on THE STRATEGIC LEARNER and commented:
I’ll admit that dredging up memories of Tee Ball was the perfect hook … but what Dan did with this little story is really remarkable.
Adding #5 to Focus: Establishes reliability. Focus, short-term deadlines, reliability; all are connected and lead to a path for achieving the main thing.
Dan, sometimes I feel like that little boy. So I love your questions for what they provoke in my head. I love what they will bring me.
Dan, Thank you for posts that help me THINK better!!
It occurs to me that the little batter was VERY focused on hitting the ball. Once he did that, he wasn’t sure what to do. What he hadn’t grasped yet was that the goal wasn’t hitting the ball, it was scoring a home run. Hitting the ball was only one step toward the ultimate goal. The rest of the “movie” wasn’t firm in his mind, so neither was the “deadline” at first base! “This morning” is long enough to work through a “step” but short enough that I can postpone stressing about the 346.5 other things I interrupting my thoughts!