I'm beginning to understand more and more that focus is the antidote to the noisy world we live in. Focus helps us pause (mindfulness) long enough to create the space needed to prioritize, gain clarity, and even rev up the creative juices. This zen-like practice forces us to accept the very thing we have a hard time coming to grips with: that we can't do it all.
I would like to submit the following to anyone who will read this: acceptance that you can't do it all brings freedom. Freedom to let go and be free from the false sense of urgency we are constantly plagued with; free from the expectations we entertain from others or put on ourselves.
Focus says "I can only do one thing at a time, and I choose this. Everything else is secondary".
Here is a great book that I would recommend on the topic. Click on the image to learn more.
Here is a great blog you can check out on ways you can incorporate it in your every day life if you aren't up for the long read from the book:
We all want to make a difference. But how bad do you want to make a difference is the real question. I used this video when I spoke to students about success and the psychology of achievement. When you want something so bad that it feels like you NEED it, then you are more likely to take action that moves the needle. Ask these questions to determine if you just want to want success in making a difference, or actually NEED to make it happen.
Do you want to make a difference so bad that you are willing to:
If not? Then you have to give yourself a gut check. How bad do you really really want to be successful at making a change?
There is nothing more painful for a visionary than being a visionary with ADHD.
I'm not kidding. If you are lucky enough to be called a visionary leader, and you suffer from this, life can get pretty tough. Why? Because your ability to cast vision....after vision.....after vision....of how things should be without actually getting there gets old. You lose credibility.
Sure, people will habitually leave and new people will replace them and start the new cycle of becoming enthralled with the charisma of the vision and inspiration, but you never really grow or go anywhere....or at least anywhere far.
Inspiration, especially the one that comes from a new vision, isn't leadership! And if you are casting a vision for your organization through inspiration alone, without having strong anchors in systematic and strategic yearly planning, then you truly aren't doing your vision justice. I would go so far to say that you are just being selfish keeping the vision to yourself without having it shared in reality with everyone else. Besides, what is the point of having a vision if you can't penetrate reality and impact those you lead?
Everyone talks about being busy. Well, here is a newsflash:
Everyone is busy.
The question is, what type of busy are you?
Is your "busy" the type that is going to get you 80/20 results that you want? Or is it the type that gives you anxiety because you have three digits following "unread emails" in your email notification?
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
There is no way around it. How we spend our time is a direct reflection of our values.
What are your values? If I asked you what they were, would you able to list them or explain them to friends? If so, could I "reverse engineer" your calendar and get an idea of what your values are? If not, then there is an opportunity for living out your values more.
If we are talking about work, do I see time dedicated to reading up on your industry and planning ahead for the trends? If not, sharpen your axe.
Do I see weekly or monthly staff/team trainings to make you exponentially more effective? No? Then stop reading this and sharpen your axe.
"But I don't have time!"
Sharpen your axe anyway. We have to understand that there is a price when you sharpen your axe. You have to literally shave off the edges off the blade to get a fresh one. There is always a trade off.
We have to decide to sharpen the axe even when it is difficult. (Did you know the word "decide" has its roots meaning "to cut off"?)
We have to CUT OFF anything that keeps us from investing and building our capacity in leadership and operations. We have to cut off this mentality that makes us think we have to answer EVERY email, EVERY call, EVERY social media notification immediately.
Otherwise, we are living someone else's values and you demonstrate that you don't have any.
Applying 50% of a 100% rock solid plan doesn't give you 50% of the results.
For example, I would be a fool to expect to follow 50% of a recipe and expect to get 100% of the final product and taste. That cake would be bland or burned.
I would even be more of a fool to think I would get 20% at that.
Unless you know the area or topic inside and out like an expert (like many of our grandmothers who just eyeball everything and still make amazingly delicious food because of YEARS of mastery) then you need to model those who are successful and find "the recipe" of what works.
It is funny how we can fall in the trap of slacking on this. But would you allow it in other areas of your life? Would you want your doctor to only follow 50% of the plan for an operation or surgery? Do you want your mechanic to fix your engine 30% of the way? Of course not. Then why should you apply a solution half way and expect outstanding outcomes? Just because it might be hard to see the direct impact doesn't mean we should give up on it so easily. Let it bake. Let it simmer. Give it time. Stick with it.
We have to understand that small and subtle details matter when trying to engineer great results. Stick to the plan. Master it. THEN you can tweak it.
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