“I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals and I try to ignore the rest.” (Venus Williams)
The see-saw effect of distractions from mobile phones, to clients and the news is common to most of us who live in an increasingly distracted world. Technology and noise fill the crevices of every moment of our lives and everything seems important and worthy of our attention. However, to succeed in business and indeed in life, one does need to have a razor sharp focus.
As the quote above illustrates, when Venus Williams started her amazing tennis career, her success was largely based on her ability to focus on her game, allowing other distractions to become a secondary part of her life. She will now have to balance the demands of family life, from her game, the distractions (albeit very good ones) will affect her game.
Two Sides of the Coin
There are two sides to this ‘coin of focus’: (1) If we don’t focus, our progress is impeded and we will not build something of significance; and (2) We need to remain focused on our goals and not allow distractions or circumstances to pull us down.
Roy T. Bennett said that, “What you focus on will grow.” If in a relationship, we tend to focus more time on the problems of the person we are in conflict with, these issues will fester, causing greater damage to the relationship. However, if we focused on their strengths and good qualities, our attitude towards the person would be different and the relationship would have a better chance of success.
In business, we need to focus our time, attention and resources in a specific direction and not be swayed from that. I have observed businesses suffering due to no real sense of direction, but rather rushing after the next trend without focusing attention on their strengths as a business.
Steve Jobs famously said: “Focussing is about saying ‘No’.” If I choose to focus on something – for example, building a certain product line – then I am essentially saying ‘no’ to building another product line.
Research has shown that if we dedicate more time in doing ‘focussed work’, our productivity levels intensify far greater than when we are not focussed. Experts recommend that as leaders, we should set aside at least 90 minutes per day – preferably the first 90 minutes – to give focussed attention on the main strategic projects that we are working on. This allocated time should be free of all distractions, and we should focus on one ‘key project’ that will move our business forward.
If we don’t create these moments of focussed time and attention, we are bound to spend our days just responding to challenges and not building our business. Those days where I have given focussed attention to the right things, have always moved my business forward in significant ways. Bruce Lee once said: “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”
In the Bible we are challenged by James 1:5-8: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Three things stand out from this: God promises to give us wisdom when we ask for it; we need to ask in faith, without doubting and we must not be double-minded. Often, many mistakes made in business is when we do not ask God for His wisdom with regards to strategy and direction. Then, because we are not sure about what we are building, we are not focussed on the right things, we find ourselves tossed around by market forces or the circumstances around us.
The world will always be constant in inconstancy, focus therefore on results, not activity. When you work, then work. When you rest, then rest.
About the Author: Dr Alan Louis is a third generation entrepreneur in a family with a 100-year business history. He devoted his life to Christianity as a child. Awarded a PhD in Commerce, is an Ultra Ironman Triathlete Gold medallist and was inducted in the IBC Hall of Fame for entrepreneurship. Internationally he has served on more than 100 private corporate boards, and has experienced the trials and successes of commerce for 3 decades.