Focus is the secret to improvement in any area of your life and career. What you focus on, you will get better at. Whether it be art, or sports, or business, or any other area of interest…focus makes the difference between progress and plateau. When an organization, or an individual, loses their focus, they will slowly but surely decline. No focus = no progress. Nothing gets better by accident. You will never hit the target you can’t see.
The importance of focus is indisputable. The execution of focus is hard. Focus requires that we define our goals, our vision, our mission with language that gets to the very heart of our deepest desire and passion. And then, having identified WHAT we want to accomplish, we must exercise the discipline to eliminate everything else. Focus, by definition, means there are things you choose to ignore. Focus means there are things you will simply NOT do. Focus means saying no. And that, I believe, is the hard part of focus.
The proof of this “hard part of focus” comes around every year when organizations set their goals. Much time and energy is expended to create this narrow list of items that align with their mission and will be executed in the coming months. But then, project after project gets added throughout the year that have nothing to do with that list of goals. But some people just can’t say no. Someone has a “good idea” and everyone agrees to start working on it right away. This lack of discipline, lack of planning, lack of focus, will deteriorate the overall effectiveness of the organization in time.
Focus means saying no to some things, maybe many things, so that the main thing gets done, and done well. That is the hard part of focus. We substitute quantity for quality. We prefer a long list of good things, to a short list of great things. It is usually easy to say yes. It is hard to say no. Focus requires us to say no.
I think this is true on a personal level as well. What is your focus? What is mine? What are you hoping to accomplish professionally, or personally? And once we have figured that out, the question is this: are we focused? Are we doing the “hard part” of focusing? Are we saying “no” to the things that come in sideways and try to distract us from our goal? Focus means saying no. That is the hard part. And that is where focus begins.