I’m always looking for common themes among my Vistage members. What is going on in their businesses and their lives and how can we make both our businesses and our lives better? Today’s theme has recurred several times in this past month so it is worth writing about.
I like to play golf. And like every other golfer in the world I hit some good shots, and I hit some bad shots. The Master’s just took place in Augusta a few days ago. I watched the professional golfers hit some good shots (great shots actually), and some bad shots.
I would not claim that I am a good golfer, but there is some shared commonality between the great pros, and us weekend hackers. We all know how to, and have hit those good shots. But very rarely do we perform at the level we are capable of. Likewise, much of the time professional golfers do not perform at the level they are capable of either. In the post tournament interviews there is a common theme among the winners ….”I was really able to focus”… “I felt relaxed which helped me focus”…”after that bad hole I regained my focus….”
So there must be something important about the ability to focus….
Distraction is Focus’s evil twin. Okay, let’s face it. We all have ADD. My wife reminds me that I am like the dog in the movie “UP” that is continuously distracted by a “SQUIRREL!”
And so in business (and in our personal lives), we often become overwhelmed with the many details and distractions that come our way. Our lives are a large mosaic of a million details, some more important than urgent, and some more urgent than important. My guess is that we all experience at least 10 out-of-the-blue problems on a daily basis that we think are urgent and must be handled before we can move on.
And of course, the efficiency and power of technology makes this challenge even worse. Texts and emails are delivered quickly to the microcomputers we call cell phones. And we make it worse if we tweet, Facebook or Instagram while we are waiting for a stop light. (Of course, none of us would DRIVE while distracted!) Managing technology distractions merits an entire long discussion of its own, so we’ll save that discussion for another day.
Unfortunately, many of us tie our value and self-worth to our ability to solve these problems ourselves. We delude ourselves into rationalizing that we can do it faster, it will save the company time, we can do it better, etc. At the end of the day, our “to-do” list is no shorter than when the day began, and often times we did not accomplish the important tasks we originally planned to do.
So what is the solution? Focus.
Pick one thing, the most IMPORTANT thing in your business that needs to be accomplished and focus on completing it, or at least make significant progress toward its completion. Schedule the time. Be disciplined about starting the project on time without interruption. Be disciplined about ignoring or deferring the distractions of the day. Focus.