The Power and Freedom of Focus
Life without focus is thin.
Unfocused leaders drive everyone crazy including themselves.
Chasing shiny objects frees at first, but loses it’s luster with the passage of time. Exhaustion and frustration set in.
Success requires focus.
Focus is dangerous. What if’s and what about’s dilute focus, drain energy, and destroy confidence.
Distraction is easy, just do whatever you want whenever you want.
Focus demands the courage to exclude.
Fear is the reason you’re spread too thin. Fear of:
- Falling short. It’s always possible to focus on the wrong thing and come up short. Wrong focus produces wrong results.
- Missing out. Those with focus don’t chase every shining object that crosses the path.
- Disappointing others. Those who focus say no. Yes feels pleasing. No feels disappointing. The need to please others is the reason so many leaders get lost.
Focus on fewer things or, in the end, you focus on nothing.
Focus brings strengths to bear on opportunity.
Authentic leaders find focus when they:
- Clarify their passion.
- Acknowledge and compensate for their weaknesses.
- Enjoy and apply their strengths.
The freedom of finding personal focus:
Finding focus begins as a journey toward authenticity that ends in service to others.
Three points of focus for successful leaders:
- Today’s win.
- Passion and talent in others. Successful leaders always develop and release talent.
- Purpose. Why are we doing what we do?
The daily focus of successful leaders is creating energizing environments where talented people love producing great results.
How will you win by doing what matters today?
Successful leaders create clarity, simplicity, and forward movement.
The importance of focus is clarity of mission, message, product, and result.
What distractions are most dangerous to leaders?
How can leaders clarify focus for themselves and others?
Dan, An important post. It’s easy to keep adding to the list of attractive things to do, particuarly when they all feel important. It’s easy to pretend it’s not a lack of focus when the distractions are also worthwhile endeavors. I’m so with you. The best achievements do involve the courage to exclude, even excluding what could otherwise be worthwhile activities in a different season.
Thanks Karin. You point out the seduction of attractive things that may feel important. You got me thinking about priorities and values as they relate to finding focus. You have my best in your new endeavors.
This sounds a bit like my problem. I have a very hard time saying no because so many times saying yes has lead to an opportunity to pull some of my focuses under one umbrella and I didn’t even realize it at the time.
Interesting comment, Karin – and response, Dan. A little story about including or excluding…My great-grandmother, at age 92, told my parents that she was having more difficulty remembering names and things in the news. My father looked at his “grandmother-in-law” and replied, “Maybe you’re just being more selective…”
Excellent post DR. It appears leaders that can focus themselves, their colleagues and their organization on key priorities seem to do well. I think where folks often fall short in staying focused is having the consistent and reliable ability to prioritize goals and tasks that move an organization forward… “we’ve always done this” or “always did it this way” or “we’re too busy to change our focus (or priorities).”
As always, hope you are well and receiving the success you’ve earned and deserved. Have a fantastic week. bdb
Thanks Dan. The three contexts of focus; self, others, and organizations opens a door of incredible opportunity to create and enjoy success. We can’t focus others until we are focused ourselves. There is the challenge for those of us who are fascinated by bright shiny objects. 🙂
Thanks for the well wishes. It’s a joy to know you and read your insights here.
Good morning Dan;
‘Extremley’ useful post Dan. Without focus even your (worker-Bee’s) flounder about from priorirty to priority, chasing the all elusive, ‘MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO’. Leaders without focus will eventually frustrate those who work for them. Your people begin to question your motives and apparent lack of vision. Because your direction is not clear, your people become appehensive to take action. Now your at the point where even your ‘outside the box thinkers’ & ‘Go-Getters’ become reluctant to “step up to the plate and join the game”.
Voluteerism and morale begin disapper. People simply want to know, ‘they’ and ‘the work they do’, MATTER…
Focus gives leaders AND followers clear direction. Focus illuminate’s mission. Focus produces a vision, a crystal clear road map to get us where we want to go.
Without focus, many of us simply ‘fluonder around’ wasting time making it appear as though we’re accomplishing ‘something’, “usually somehting thats a waste of time and energy”.
Show me a Leaders who lacks focus and I’ll show you a leader who lack’s purpose.
Beside’s, without purpose, “what’s the purpose”?
“Ka-POW right back atcha my frieind”…
Focus is so important, especially if you are responsible for leading others. Some of the most deprecating feelings an employee can have is one born from the frustration of having a leader without focus. Leaders without focus will often agree about good ideas, but never follow up. They’ll say they care, but their effort goes to their issues and goals (which are really their boss’s issues and goals).They won’t mentor or provide timely feedback, but they will leave you baffled with a “borderline” or “poor” annual review.
In almost every case that I’ve seen a leader without focus, it seems they were promoted because they did their last job well, not because of potential.
My advice: Scout your future leader’s focus during interviews and make sure you can align with it. The interview is just as much if not more of you trying to find the right fit than the employer. Make sure the focus is clear, concise, and well-understood by them. It isn’t wise to take a position with a leader without focus. Of course, it doesn’t help if you get re-assigned to a different boss, but you have to be proactive.
Thanks John. The connection between focus and follow up is powerful. It’s so true… when we aren’t focused we don’t follow up we just chase the next thing. Pow! That’s a kick in the pants.
Mine is tuneless and I am tone deaf. What music are you playing?
Thanks Seeker. You lost me this time. 🙂
My apologies, Sir. I was out of focus this morning.
You have rightly mentioned, fear of not getting what you want is the most dangerous distraction. Here I would like to focus more on effort and less on goals. Generally people focus more on achieving goals. When they do not achieve, they get frustrated. Many times, in order to achieve goals, people take different and often easy routes. Some people tend to deviate. All these happen because of our expectations. When we decided to do anything, we should focus more on efforts. Right and committed effort has potential to get our goals. We should not focus on goals but efforts.
It is very logical and clear as well. There is way to achieve anything. When our way is right, nothing can stop us to achieve it. I do agree that we do not have much control over external circumstances, and we may not get as we expected. But, the truth is that focusing on process, means and efforts can help us to achieve goals. Just focusing to achieve goal, leaving means and effort could prove disastrous.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. The focus on effort solves so many problems. When we focus on goals perhaps we get discouraged because of slow progress. Maybe we make excuses or blame people because things aren’t going well. I can see the value of focusing on effort. This also suggests that rewards should include effort as well.
Your quote: “Yes feels pleasing. No feels disappointing. The need to please others is the reason so many leaders get lost.” No DOES feel like failure, but it is sometimes impossible to say, which leads to everyone being disappointed. The upside of NO is that the work you finish will be even better, and you will be seen as a better leader for being able to recognize the most important
priorities. Thank you the strong message.
Thanks Larry. No may feel like failure but when success is enhanced by a powerful NO the pain lessens. 🙂
Focus … I’ve struggled with this one. When you have a strong curiosity for things it is easy to get distracted by the next interesting thing. Pride and ego also hampers focus since some people cannot admit they can’t do everything.
Thanks Michael. Glad you brought up curiosity. I’m one who could benefit from focusing my curiosity.
Your observation about ego really applies. Pride says I can doe “everything.” Or, “I don’t have weaknesses, therefore I can do anything.”
Wow, Dan! I wanted to read this quickly and move on to the next thing on my list, but then this phrase hit me, “Fear is the reason you’re spread too thin.” You hit me right where I was living. Thanks for the wake up call and for practical suggestions to help me focus.
Thanks Jill. It hits me too. Best for the journey.