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Focus Until It Hurts! Then Focus More!

by David Brock on September 25th, 2007

Most of the organizations I encounter have one common challenge—-focusing. In the past week, I have been involved in projects with 4 companies—2 Fortune 50 companies, a large company, and a very early stage start up. All had exactly the same problem:
They had not identified and committed to executing the 1-2 things critical to accomplishing their goals. As a result, each was failing to achieve their goals. Consistently, failure to focus is the biggest issue I see confronting organizations and people.
This got me to thinking, why is it so tough? Some thoughts:
Focus is boring: It is so much more exciting to look at new ideas, to try new things. If I focus, I am forced to complete one thing before moving to the next.
Focus is not cool: After all, we seem to measure our worth by how much we can multitask—-multitasking is the enemy of focus—but it’s what we are all about—how many meetings can we manage simultaneously, how many emails, phone calls, and the story goes on.
Focus requires thought: If I am going to focus on something, I have to think—really think—-what is it that I need to focus on, what do I give up, is it the right thing to do, should I be doing other things? Once I’ve decided, then I have to continue to think. It’s much easier to wander and react to crises.
Focus requires discipline: Discipline—it’s such a boring word—isn’t it much more fun to react? Why do I want to be so predictable?
Focus demands accountability: If I commit to one thing and just do that—-people will have an expectation—I will actually be responsible for doing something—for accomplishing something. If I choose not to focus, then it is more difficult to pin me down—I can move from crisis to crisis, issue to issue, but I never really have to produce a result.
Focus demands courage: What if I choose the wrong thing, what if I am wrong? Everyone around me is not doing this—you can’t pin them down—this makes me responsible for what I do—for the result I produce. Sometimes, we are all alone in doing this.
Lots has been said about focus, but we do everything we can to avoid it. Imagine the difference in each of our lives if we could just start to focus. Imagine what each of us and our organizations could accomplish.

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