How do you find your focus when faced with seemingly limitless problems... or should we call them "opportunities"?
Have you ever been in a situation where there is so much going on, whether it be too many problems or too much potential, that it's just incredibly difficult to decide where to go? I've been there plenty of times, often in the midst of change and transition. As a leader I believe this is one of the most important decisions we will make. Where do we focus our resources? What do we run after and what do we leave behind? I thought I would try to shed a little light on the subject, so let's dive in with 4 tips to finding the right focus.
FOCUS ON WHAT WORKS
One of the worst habits I see is spending too much time focusing on what we don't do well. Quit ignoring your strengths, play to them! Dan and Cip Heath authored a great book called, "Switch", in which they discuss the concept of focusing on the bright spots. Find what is working in your organization, define it, and attempt to repeat or learn from it. I recently heard entrepreneur Sarah Prevette speak, who is one of Inc.'s 30 under 30. Sarah spent significant time encouraging us to focus on what you do well. Seth Goldstein, founder of the insainly successful Turntable.fm, stated, "find what's going up and to the right and slam it on the table". When you're needing to make decisions on where to focus and what to do next, play to your strengths and do what you do well. Find your success, learn from, duplicate it, draw from it - focus on what works.
SIMPLIFY. NO SERIOUSLY, SIMPLIFY.
I've written about simplicity before on my blog because I think it's incredibly important to success in today's business landscape. Don't glaze over this one,- it matters big time. Change is happening at an incredible rate these days. Turnover rates are high, technology is advancing rapidly, the economy is wavering a bit, the world is amazingly interconnected, and consumer trends are more fickle than ever. It is so important for organizations to be nimble and streamlined. So don't only focus on what works, cut what doesn't. Sometimes it's no just about deciding what to do, it's also about deciding what not to do or what to stop doing. Don't forget this step. Stop doing whatever is not contributing to your success. There will be few times when you regret changing too quickly, but very often you'll regret changing too slowly. Simplify, streamline, and put all of your resources into doing a few things incredibly well.
PUT YOUR BEST ON YOUR BEST
As I mentioned before, I think we too often look to focusing and developing our weakness. Instead, be sure that your best people are on your best opportunities. Be sure your best resources are flowing into your greatest potential. If you must focus on developing weakness (which can be a valid effort at times), don't make the mistake of putting your best resources on it. That's just a recipe for mediocrity. If you're going to simplify and knock things out of the park, you can't afford to dilute great talent or budget on areas of weakness. That doesn't mean you shouldn't develop new skills and potential, it just means you've got to run after opportunties and measured potential. Don't beat yourself by dumping into something you'll never do incredibly well.
PUT ON BLINDERS OF VISON AND VALUES
Let your vision and core values be your blinders. They will guide you to what matters. Choose to focus on what definitively aligns with these. A razor sharp and actionable vision, along with a concrete sense of core values, are invaluable when it comes to making good decisions in times of uncertainty, change, or rapid transition. You've got to internalize what matters, what's important, and where you're going. These will be critical to your success. Take time to bump options, problems, and opportunities, up against vision and values. They should fit perfectly, don't try to "make it work".
One of our greatest roles as leaders is to define what matters. That can be incredibly difficult at times. Spend some time finding what works that aligns with your vision and values and than go all in with your best resources. Simplify down and fight overcommitment. You've got to become OK knowing that success will mean trimming the fat and running after success. At least that's how I do it.
What are your thoughts? How do you find the right focus?