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Focus: The Key to Success


eddiealaskaYou’ve heard the saying that men don’t really care what’s on TV, they just want to know what else is on TV.  Most of us have developed the skill where we channel surf like there was a reward for it.

Unfortunately, many of us bring that mentality into our business life.   Per University of San Francisco professor Dr. Jim Taylor, research shows that those who claim they are great at multitasking (which applies to most business people) are in fact, worse than others at it.

Per Taylor, there is in fact no such thing as multitasking, at least when it comes to work.  The best thing to do when you need something done, is turn off everything else, and work on the job in front of you.

Think about this for a moment, since when is starting anything an accomplishment?  It’s fairly easy to start anything.  I could get up from my chair right now and start a marathon, never leaving  the room.  It’s finishing that matters, not starting. And finishing requires focus.

There’s an old saying that the hunter trying to shoot two rabbits at once will get neither.

Country music star and record producer Vince Gill said that the title “producer” should really be “reducer,” because his job is to determine what will NOT be on the album.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the hardest decision in business was what NOT to work on.

It’s the same with us.  Who are your customers and prospects?  If you say “everyone” you are dooming yourself to frustration and failure.

Focusing is hard work.  Bain and Company published a white paper in 2012 called “The Focused Company.”  They contend that complexity is a natural trait of any large organization, and requires concentrated efforts to combat.   A focused company does not invest to win in every element of its business; rather it invests primarily in its core, the business in which it can outperform everyone else.

How does one go about this?  First, identify your core.  I find that many business leaders cannot do this.  If it takes more than a few sentences to describe what your company does, then YOU don’t really understand what you’re about.

Once you do identify it, focus on it like there’s no tomorrow.  When deciding how to spend your time, just ask, does this help strengthen our core business?  If the answer is “no.”  Then don’t do it.

I love what the character Dwight from the television series “The Office” said:  “I just ask myself, ‘would an idiot do this?’ If the answer is ‘yes’ then I do not do that thing.”

Here’s other hard part, your core may need to adjust and change over time.  If you’re selling sliderules, maybe it’s time you changed your core competency.

Focus.. and be successful.