“In a world where information is abundant and easy to access, the real advantage is knowing where to focus.” James Clear, Atomic Habits
In his best-selling book, Atomic Habits, James Clear sets it straight. Set your eyes on the prize and focus, then count on results.
I was recently asked by retired C-Suite client the number one issue I see with entrepreneurial, rapid growth CEOs. Without hesitation, two answers came spilling out, not in any order. The first was the struggle to let go of control, especially if the business is birthed by him or her. The second? Shiny object syndrome. Let’s face it, in a world rife with opportunities, it’s tempting to get side-tracked.
In light of a new year and timing, let’s talk about focus as we revisit strategy, set new goals, and chart a plan for achieving them. In working with companies on strategy and executive development, I often visit with leaders who have trouble with capacity. As we step inside their calendars and activities, it becomes glaringly apparent – taking on too much is impeding the ability to focus most on what matters.
What’s the answer? How do we get more time? Once we have it, where do we focus it? If some of these basic practices are followed, you can create more margin and intention. There are three key prerequisites for focus:
Understand where your time is going. When reviewing the last 30-60 days, what are you doing exactly? What percentage of time are you spending by category? If you’re a C-Suite leader and at least 90 percent isn’t going toward strategy and people, it’s time to realign.
Create ways to manage the time robbers. Eliminate and delegate. Here’s a classic case….A leader goes to multiple networking events because it feeds her influencing and relationship strengths. She tells herself it’s for the good of the business, yet for the past three years of doing this regularly, there’s no measurable ROI. Eliminating this would give back 10 hours a month to the business. Those same strength’s needs could be met through team conversations and LBWA – Leading by Walking Around. Seeing it outside of ourselves makes it more obvious, doesn’t it?
Determine your organization’s top three pillars (areas of strategic focus) and related top three goals for each pillar within the next 1-3 years. By the end of the year, if these goals are accomplished or exceeded, it’s a win. Each team and individual should also map out their three focus areas and goals tethered back to the organization’s top three. While this process may seem trite and basic, it works! Why? Because everyone is focused and accountable to the big three. If every initiative, project and activity doesn’t connect back, then it’s a signal to stop, then redirect.
Lou Holtz was undeniably one of the greatest college football coaches of all time. He consistently instructed his players to ask themselves this question multiple times daily – “WIN?,” or “What’s important now?” By spending a few minutes each day asking WIN, it sets the focus for the day in light of the bigger strategy and goals defined for the year, guaranteeing you are in the right lane to drive the right results.
In a world overloaded with information and opportunities, and a myriad of distractions vying for our attention, here’s to a year of FOCUS.