Focus or Distraction?

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“You need to focus.” How often have you heard that from someone who’s trying to help you better achieve your goals! Ask a person what’s his/her goal and, in today’s multitasking world, you’ll get a few goals. What’s the cost of trying to achieve too many goals at the same time? As I point out with a slide in our Presentation Excellence training program, when an archer tries to hit multiple targets at one time, it’s impossible to get a bulls-eye. Only by focusing on one, and only one goal, is it possible.

Daniel Goleman, best-selling author of “Emotional Intelligence”, just published “Focus, the Hidden Driver of Excellence” in which he observes that the primal task of leaders is to direct attention in one of these areas.

  • Inner – self-awareness and seeing ourselves as others see us.
  • Other – reading other people, understanding and empathizing with others
  • Outer – making sense of the world around us, even with the fast pace of change.

In his book, he makes the case that the well-lived life demands we learn to focus on each area when relevant.

The well-focused leader balances an “inner” focus on his company’s culture and strategy, with an “other” focus on the competitive landscape, and an “outer” focus on the larger realities that shape the environment.

A given strategy makes choices about what to ignore and what matters: market share or profit, current competitors or potential new entrants, and which new technologies must receive attention.

One of the ways you can help people focus on their priorities in a given setting, is to help them eliminate distractions. Today, through social and traditional media, and our own daily interactions, we are bombarded by issues that present themselves but aren’t really worthy of focus. So, identifying what is a distraction and then eliminating it from contention, increases the ability to focus on true priorities, and narrow the focus at any given time, so a bulls-eye is achievable.

What common distractions get in your way? How do you narrow your focus to the absolute priorities?  Share your secrets of success!