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Focus Wins the Day!

Meg Whitman quote, Don't boil the ocean

The metaphor in the picture strikes a chord with me … because, like most business people I always have a million ideas for improving things, all of which are amazing of course!

The reality is that if I try to focus my attention on too many things then I dilute those efforts and nothing gets done well.

What does that mean in the real world?

I think it is human nature to want to fast track to the end, to reach the goal without all that “hassle and effort” in the middle.

  • It could be as basic as my annual drive from Toronto to Florida.  This means more than 24 hours on the road.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Star Trek moment and find myself transplanted, car, trailer and motorbike too … without all that driving?

  • It could be my quest to lose weight.  Wouldn’t it be nice to just take a pill and “Hey Presto!” I’m slim and trim again without all that discipline and sacrifice in the middle!

The reality is (a) we need to work for anything worth having; and (b) we need to control that urge to get everything done and over immediately … in order to be be successful at the things we focus on!

“Perseverance is not a long race, it is many short races one after another.”  Walter Elliott

This same philosophy applies in the business world.

  • As a business owner you want to grow, and there are multiple strategies that can be adopted.  You might (a) hire more salespeople, (b) open new offices in new locations, (c) acquire another company or (d) perhaps add new lines of business?  If you try to do all of those things at the same time then most likely you won’t apply the right focus and will have problems.

  • As a leader there are numerous areas you would like to improve, perhaps the productivity of your sales team, the success rate of your proposal team, the efficiency of your back office and on and on.  If you need to be personally and deeply involved in all of these initiatives then trying to make it all happen at once will most likely not be a happy experience.

I think you get the message … but one last example, because this same philosophy applies to individuals.

We often have big aspirations for ourselves, and we want to become the CEO tomorrow, conquer the world the next day and retire rich by age 40. We can all point at the few names that have had that sort of success, but we can also point to lottery winners.  The chances of success are pretty slim!

“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.”  Brian Tracy

So here is my  advice to individuals striving for success:

  • Go for your dreams but be realistic.

  • Work hard, but smart.

  • Never give up, and don’t beat yourself up because it takes longer than you thought it would.

  • Be very focused … you can’t fix everything at once.  Eat the elephant one bite at a time.

  • Enjoy the journey … achievement feels good.  So celebrate the wins along the way.

Too often we derail our potential by trying to tackle too many things at once.

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”  Tony Robbins

Don’t try to boil the ocean … it is just too big!