Ever watch a puppy playing with a toy. You can’t help but watch with amused wonder as they clumsily run, pounce, and toss around whatever it is they are playing with. Then… a butterfly innocently flutters into view and… off the puppy goes in hot pursuit of something new. Within seconds, a squirrel scampers across the puppy’s field of view and… off he goes again! The puppy’s complete and total lack of focus is so much fun to watch!
Yet, when I have to put on my business leader’s hat, a team’s or individual’s lack of focus is not as cute, humorous, or wondrous. In fact, it is one of the biggest detractors of greatness that I see in individuals and organizations.
The key to successful execution is focus. In order to take a business or team’s vision and single-mindedly concentrating on executing it, you need to be focused. It is all about ignoring the butterflies and squirrels that happen along the way (and they are everywhere!).
As far as discipline goes, focus is the single hardest thing for an individual leader to master. If we look at the 3% crowd of people that have mastered greatness in their field, we will discover that they have the unwavering discipline to focus only on what needs to be done to achieve their objectives. Everything else is ignored. The same is found in world-class athletes that have learned to intensely focus on crafting near perfection in their field. If they are the best at golf, they do not try to be the best at tennis too.
The late Steve Jobs once said:
“That’s been one of my mantras – Focus and Simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”