The F-word is Back!

Nope, it’s not another TV series with our favourite Chef who suffers with Tourettes and I’m not about to launch into tirade of inappropriate language! It is that F-word that seems to raise it’s head all too often and only ten days into the New Year I’ve had two clients talk about it in the space of a few hours… I’m talking about F-O-C-U-S and the need for it in every business.

There will always be a never-ending line of business experts ready to give you their best advice and perhaps tell you that there is a quick way to fame and unlimited riches. Certainly, there are some basic business tactics that will help you cut the learning curve in half and propel your results but there is one fundamental element that is much overlooked; the ability to apply real focus.

Driving a business forward, especially in such ‘interesting times’, is not for the faint-hearted but fortune does indeed favour the brave. The quality that seems to be common to all successful individuals, be it in business or any other field, is the ability to apply near-pathological levels of focus to the task at hand. That may strike you as a strange concept; excess is never a good thing (or is it?!), so why is FOCUS my top prescription for a quantum shift in your results? Well, because I’ve seen too many examples that prove the argument. Just stop and think about it for yourself for a moment; consider all the people who you could list, according to your own definition, as being successful, or better still, hyper-successful. What attributes could be linked to all of them? I’m sure focus would be high on the list.

I think most people would agree with me in that Albert Einstein is probably regarded as one of the greatest thinkers in the history of the human race, and yet the quiet, modest man, who helped shape the world we live in today, was famously quoted as having said “I’m not smarter than anyone else, I just stick with a problem longer than most other people”. His message was clear; it’s not just about the level of your intellect that will determine your success, it’s your ability to apply real focus when it’s required.

So how do we find this elusive level of concentration and when? Any situation where you really need to deal with a challenging task requires high levels of focus. Perhaps you’re creating a new product or service, or maybe planning a new marketing campaign. Or you might be be aiming to push hard on sales performance for the next quarter. Of course people have different ways of finding focus but here are my top 3 tips:

  1. Make space to focus; this might sound obvious but it’s vital to lay a good foundation. Space in terms of physical space and time. Make sure you create time to dedicate yourself to the task at hand. Don’t fool yourself into believing that you can multi-task and allow interruptions.
  2. Create mental space too. Having a quiet place to work and allowing yourself uninterrupted time to focus are vital but you must also allow yourself to remove other distractions. Mental space is great way to liberate yourself from the daily tasks and ‘allow’ yourself the fully-deserved pleasure (and believe me, it really is a pleasure!) to ignore other priorities. Create a temporary island and jump aboard for a few hours, or even a day or two. Leave everything behind and know that it will all be dealt with soon enough.
  3. Find out WHY it is important to do the best job with this task. The WHY is so much more important than the HOW, or the WHEN, etc. Amoung the very many valuable lessons my own mentor taught me was that “when the WHY is strong enough, the HOW will become easy”. When you think you’re able to articulate the WHY, go one level deeper and really identify WHY it is really important to you.

Start using the F-word in your daily business diet in 2011 and you’ll see a change, guaranteed. You’ll feel a greater sense of control, you’ll achieve higher quality results and you’re going to stretch your abilities and help you grow.

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