There is an old (and wise) adage that states, “If you want to defeat them, distract them.”
My company, Credo CFO’ & CPA’s, has something called “The Credo Way”, which spells out the 10 mantras we live by and go to for guidance when we need to. #8 of The Credo Way states “Our ability to stay focused gives us an unfair advantage against our competition”.
In the culture we live in today, I do subscribe to what many have called the “man-made ADD world”. The level of busyness and pace of our lives (not to mention the technology that makes everything accessible, including us!) has created an ADD culture even for people without ADD.
Certainly, this creates an opportunity for those that can remain focused. The ability to remain focused is increasing in value all the time. And, I truly believe that being focused gives you a significant advantage over the competition. This ability, I believe, also makes you a much more effective and attractive leader.
World renowned self-improvement and effectiveness guru Stephen Covey says ““The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Now, think about this for a minute. What he is saying is, start with a blank calendar or blank to-do list. Then, go to your priority list (preferably written). Finally, block off/schedule your time so that it is a direct reflection of your priorities. Do you think this has something to do with “focus”? You bet it does! Try the exercise and see what you come up with. The results might really surprise you.
If you want to achieve extraordinary results, you must begin at the very core of all your choices – as to where you spend your time and energy — your focus.
We like to believe that we are always doing activities that are the direction of our focus, but, unfortunately, we instead end up spending a lot of time worrying about things or just plain being afraid. I know I do. I suspect you do as well. Don’t worry, this is a human trait. We all do it to some extent.
That’s exactly why, when a leader can master the ability to focus, they have an unfair advantage. And, as we get more and more into a world of speed, convenience, multi-tasking, constant distractions, etc., the leaders that can discipline themselves to focus on their mission will keep widening this gap of unfair advantage.
Focus is not a new concept as an effective trait, but I believe it will become even more important in the future. And, these types of “soft” skills are becoming more and more relevant as technology continues to progress.
Jesus knew that he needed to stay focused. He had a mission, and he did not deviate from it. In his 40-day journey in the desert (see Week 2: Great Leaders Are Confident or Matthew 4:1-11), Jesus had many “business opportunities” to pursue that did not relate to his mission. Jesus was both a teacher and a healer. And, he knew this. He stayed focused on his mission.
A lot of business owners and/or entrepreneurs are good at a lot of different things. In other words, they tend to be generalists rather than specialists. If they are not, typically, their business either never gets off the ground or it goes under. Reason being, they start off as CEO, CFO, COO, CMO, CIO, etc. and then slowly delegate down duties as their business grows. Some can never stop trying to do all of them, and it ultimately kills their business. The wise business owner evolves and slowly delegates the areas they are weak in and then starts to really focus in on the areas they excel at – the areas where they are the only one that should be doing that work. That shift of focus is a process, and it is not always an easy one. Ask any business owner who started their business from scratch and now has a full payroll. There’s a struggle there to relinquish control and to shift focus to where the business needs it most. And, thank God for competition that only allows the best to rise to the top!
Now, think about Jesus when you think about someone staying focused. Jesus was not just good at a lot of things, he was good at everything! Therefore, his choices of what he could or would do with his life had no limits. So, to get a better understanding of this, it can often be more powerful to think about the things Jesus did not do as opposed to the things he did do.
He did not write books and distribute them. He did not try to build wealth to give to the poor. He could have.
He did not remove illness from the world. He did not overthrow all the evil leaders of the day. He could have.
He could have seen his mission as serving God and living a sinless life as an example for all of us. But, how “unfocused” would that have been? That is too vague! That means he would have had to spend a lot of time thinking about how to spend his time. That’s not focused! He didn’t do this. He had a very specific mission. And, all his actions were on that mission. He did not deviate.
I am not saying that you should not plan and think about how you spend your time. In fact, I think that setting aside time to plan your time is an investment that pays enormous returns. But, even that time needs to be both focused and disciplined. You can’t live there too long. You must get on to action, and with that, very focused action.
I also am not claiming to be some sort of focus guru. Not at all. I struggle immensely everyday with trying to stay on mission. In fact, I have a written life mission which I pull out every now and then when I need to “center” myself. I would highly recommend to anyone that they do this. It helps more than you might think. Email me if you want an example. email@example.com
Jesus was an effective leader because he was focused. And, his focus led to consistency. People are very attracted to consistency and passionate focus on a mission.
We could all become tremendously effective by imitating Jesus’ focus.