A Superpower for Growth…
Who wouldn’t want a superpower?
The ability to do something amazing, to really make an impact and make some serious progress? Sure it would be cool to fly or be super strong – but if you’re a business owner, there’s actually a different kind of superpower that would be much more useful, especially if you’re trying to scale your business.
It might not seem like much at first – in fact most business owners would struggle to use this power, even if they could. But the reality is that it’s the lack of this ‘super power’ that causes most businesses to struggle, even eventually fail.
What is it? It’s a power that anyone can cultivate (although some people are naturally better at it than others). It’s the power of focus.
To clarify – what I mean by focus is the ability to hone in on what’s most important and spend most of your time and effort on that one thing.
In his fantastic book Essentialism, author Greg McKeown shares a great illustration of what focus looks like.
The image on the left is a good representation of how most us typically spend our energy – across a dozen different efforts, all headed in different directions. With that approach (no focus) it’s not surprising that we don’t make much headway.
Contrast that with the idea of using a focused approach (image to the right). Take all of that energy and use it to make progress in a single direction.
Now you’re getting somewhere.
Where does this lack of Focus come from?
A lack of focus can be external or internal.
I have a client who is currently going through a lawsuit. Based on everything I know about the situation, the suit has absolutely no merit and will ultimately be thrown out of court. But… because anyone can sue for any reason (merit or not), this business owner has to take the situation seriously (an unlikely loss could be devastating).
The end result is that this business owner and his team are being pulled in a lot of different directions, they’re distracted and it’s having some big impacts on day to day operations – and they can’t even contemplate trying to implement any new ideas (or even big client opportunities).
They’re dealing with a major external distraction and it’s causing a severe lack of focus.
Another, much more common, example is a business owner who really likes to chase ‘shiny objects’. The new idea, the new fad, anything that some other business might be implementing. The result is an ever-changing set of priorities that leaves the owner (and especially his team) with way too many things to focus on – and very little actual progress on anything. These are internal distractions and even though they are self-inflicted they can still cause a lot of damage.
How do you unlock this super power?
The good news is that anyone can become more focused, and with practice and discipline that power of focus can continue to grow and improve.
The bad news is that it takes discipline and a willingness to commit that a lot of people have a hard time with. But for those who can bear down and start on the path of focus, they will see amazing results – especially since most other people won’t be able to match them.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started on unlocking your own super power of focus.
1 – Figure out what’s really important to you.
This one may seem obvious, but the reality is that most of us don’t take the time to figure out what we really want or the most expeditious way to get there. As a business owner you may want to grow your business, but have you taken the time to get really clear on what that might look like and how you would most likely make that happen?
2 – Get comfortable with saying ‘No’.
Once you’ve got a direction that you want to head, then you’ll need to make room for doing that work (time and energy). That means, unless you’re a start-up, that you’ll need to stop doing other things… or get some help and delegate or outsource your other work as much as possible.
In the case of my client with the lawsuit – unfortunately he can’t do much about the legal process and he personally needs to spend a lot of time on it. However, he can, and should, spend some money and hire additional help to take over more of the day-to-day operations (or choose to shut some things down).
Figuring out how to gracefully say ‘no’ (or to delegate or outsource) will take time and effort upfront – leaving you unfocused initially. But that effort will pay off quickly as you get things off of your plate and free up your time.
3 – Stay the course.
Finally, this isn’t a one time effort, it’s an ongoing, continual battle to remain focused on what’s most important. You will be tested, internally and externally, along the way and it will be important to give yourself the time to adjust to new opportunities and challenges along the way.
What do you think? Are you as focused as you can be? When’s the last time you really thought about the one thing that’s most likely to move you forward? Did you do anything about it? We’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach