Guilty as Charged
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
People have asked me how I decide what to write about. The answer is always, “what I am learning at the time.” This week is no exception. I was struggling with making progress on the many projects that I have in the works. Trying to cover all the bases and still get things done. Recently, this quote appeared in my growth feed – “You cannot succeed in life by scattering your focus and trying to do a dozen things at the same time.” – Napoleon Hill. Guilty as charged! Once I saw the quote, I knew right away that I needed to stop and reflect. My first thought was to go back to the 3Rs that I wrote about two weeks ago. Clearly, that wasn’t enough. So why not, why wasn’t it working? As I reflected, I realized that I had failed to shift out of crisis mode. Crisis mode has a short-term focus, and we work extended hours to keep as many balls in the air as possible. You can only operate at this level for a relatively short period of time without crashing and burning.
Once I switched out of crisis thinking, I began to see what I may have learned in the past. Low and behold back in November of 2016, I wrote this; Steve Jobs put it best when he said, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you have got to focus on. But that is not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. I am actually as proud of the things we have not done as I am the things we have.” As I reflected on that statement, it became clear to me that I needed to make better choices. If I am going to say yes to one thing, I am actually saying no to something else. Since my time is finite, there will need to be trade-offs. Sometimes we need to say no to the good to make time for the best. Wow, I wish I hadn’t forgotten this one. What else might I have missed? I decided to do some new research to see what I might find.
How about mindfulness? As it turns out, if you prepare your mind before you start a task, you can achieve greater focus. Begin by silencing your devices—email alerts, phones, tablets, anything that might disturb you. Next, take some deep breaths and allow your mind and body to calm down, then slowly begin to think deeply into your task and start working with your thoughts. This may seem strange at first, but over time your brain will learn that this is a time for deep thought and heightened focus. Music or the appropriate background noise can also help during your focused work.
If you would like to hear more tips for improving your focus, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 154 of The Next Page podcast.