Eleven Ways Leaders Create Focus

Focus is a key Personal Skill of leaders. The ability to bore into the most important things and stay attentive and focused on them, and continue that behavior as a means of solving problems, contacting prospects, writing a report, preparing a presentation, doing an analysis, maximizing the value of a meeting, is key to success. Focus maximizes time - it results in more being done in less time. And yet, for most people, acquiring the Personal Skill of focus seems impossible - too many distractions, too many things and too little time, too many impositions to even think of focusing on one thing for any period of time. The result is that a lot of decisions are made with superficial research, at best. Even the most important decisions get short attention - or get set aside, all in the name of not enough time.

You won't hear the highly successful using the excuse of too little time. They take the time - they make the time - they treasure their time - they refuse to let their time be dribbled away on "stuff." How do they do that? We asked the most effective leaders we know how they can seem to get so much accomplished.

Here's a summary of the advice they gave us. 1 - Be selfish with your time and be rewarded with focus and time to be generous. Guard your time against the many intruders that would consume it to no effect.

Once that's done, time for focusing just seems to appear. And time to be generous in giving to others appears as well. 2 - Know what's most important to you - that day.

If you can't state what are the most important things to you - for that day - you can't possibly maximize time and create focus. Goals are critical to creating focus and effectiveness. 3 - Live your life in "day tight compartments." Dale Carnegie made that suggestion in his book "Stop Worrying and Start Living." What does that mean? Don't waste time on yesterday, don't waste time on tomorrow - spend your time - physically and emotionally, in today.

Wall off all those things that try to intrude that aren't important today. Focus on today - exclude all other things. Make today it's own day tight compartment 4 - Create trust wherever you can. The more trust people have in you, the more time you will have to focus on your most important things.

5 - Eat the frog first. Brian Tracy - in a book of the same name, advises that the frog - the most important thing you have to do today - be the first thing attacked every day. Failure to do that results in constant looking over your shoulder and anxiety - both are robbers of focus.

6 - Ask! Ask for help, ask for resources, ask for information, ask for cooperation. And be a giver and a taker - in equal measure. 7 - Train yourself to focus.

Use an hour as your time block and spend an uninterrupted hour on focusing on the most important thing. Be amazed at the end of that time to see how much progress you have made. Extend that focus exercise to your other top goals. The skill of focusing and giving undivided attention for an hour is a top 10% skill - it gives enormous competitive advantage. 8 - Learn to say no.

If you're not enthusiastic about doing something you won't do a good job. And that will corrode trust, and create anxiety, and lead to interpersonal issues. Plus, being a martyr to someone else's needs is really unattractive - and unappreciated. If you've ever tried to really focus on something you didn't feel good about, you know what a waste of time that is.

9 - Be realistic. Everyone has a boss. It may be that on any given day very little time will be available for focus on important stuff.

Other things get in the way. Treasure that one hour that is available and spend it focused on the most important thing. 10 - Don't confuse busy with focused or effective. Often all busy is is a way to avoid the truly important. 11 - Be a respecter of the time of others.

To the extent that you want your time respected, you gotta respect the time of others. If you don't respect the time of others, you're a taker - and nobody likes or respects a taker. Start today - in this particular "day tight compartment" - to develop the Personal Skill of focus. Start with goals - and then translate them into daily goals and tasks. Watch your effectiveness and accomplishments soar.

Andy Cox helps his clients select and develop teams and talent. He focuses on helping leaders and emerging leaders define and develop their skills and talents using goals. He can be reached at , or at


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