Have you ever been hungry for lunch and not able to focus on anything, let alone accomplish anything, until you get some food? Your attention is on one thing: getting food—now! Sweet or salty, it doesn’t matter as long as it gets in your mouth—now. This is your utmost goal and the focus of your actions. Everything else is put aside or is addressed only half-heartedly. Until you get a hold of some food, you have no interest in discussing, starting, or working on any other project.
As you read that first paragraph, could you relate to the urgency of needing food—now? How many of you actually started to get hungry and forgot whatever else you had been working on? As humans we have a limited ability to effectively focus on more than one thing at a time; however, when we do focus intently on something, we direct our energies and often achieve our goal.
As managers, many of us need to develop or strengthen our abilities to maintain a single-mindedness of focus so we can more effectively achieve our business goals. We cannot rely on tunnel vision or be work-obsessed. Instead we need to develop a consistency of focus to ensure that what we are focusing our minds and energies on, are issues that will keep propelling our organizations and us forward. Because if the things we are currently focusing on won't move us forward: Why are we wasting our energies on them?
If you need more and better-trained employees, how much time have you spent actively recruiting them today? If you need to increase sales, what have you been doing today to generate sales? If you need to re-align services to better meet customer needs, how much time have you spent today making the necessary changes? These examples sound rather basic, but you would be amazed at the number of organizations exerting an all-encompassing grumble about these or similar issues daily, and in the end only addressing them half-heartedly. The one issue that seems to be the main problem area is, consequently, downgraded and addressed as a third, fourth, or fifth-level matter. With that less than stellar level of focus (and energy), how can one hope to effectively and quickly resolve any problem?
To gauge your ability to focus your single-mindedness, ask yourself and your management team these two questions:
- What is the most pressing issue facing our company (your department)?
- What specifically have we done today to address that #1 pressing issue?
If you're not feeling the same sense of urgency for your most pressing issue as you did with the ‘hungry for lunch’ example above, that should be a pretty clear indication to you that you are not as focused on your pressing issue as you should be; and therefore, you're not putting as much energy towards it as you could be.
Be more single-focused by becoming as hungry to achieve your business goals as you are to get your lunch.
Copyright MMIV Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.