By Jonathan Moerbe, CEO and Master Coach, Rialto Academy
Gary Keller once said that others might outwork him, but no one would out-focus him. That’s part of the reason he wrote the book, The ONE Thing—because he wanted to capture and share that tenacious attitude that opened doors others saw as sealed shut.
In 2019, focus seems a lost art, or at least a challenged one. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on a plane, 37,000 feet in the air, yet I’m able to listen to music on a phone that also has access to millions of apps, multiple social media accounts, and one email app that filters five mailboxes into one. The screen in the seat in front of me offers a choice of movies and television shows for the remainder of the flight, should I decide to flip my brain off and 30 Rock on. Shiny things are everywhere.
Yet only with focus does the important work get completed. That’s why at Rialto, we read about focus, teach about it, commit to practicing it, and honor its quiet power. Focus will always be the difference between success and mediocrity, so here are three helpful suggestions to help upgrade our focus mindset as we move through Q4.
One enemy of focus is the lack of balance between strategizing and actually doing the work. In The E Myth book series, Michael Gerber breaks it down—identifying three roles that every business owner must play, in harmony, to gain proper focus. The same rules apply for anyone with a leadership role.
Role 1: The Entrepreneur. This is the strategist who plots the path and designs the business. In this role, you lead with creativity.
Role 2: The Manager. This is the role that creatively coordinates resources, both people and processes.
Role 3: The Technician. This is the doer role—the one who works IN the business, instead of on it. There’s creativity here, but it’s based on improving task performance.
True focus comes when these three roles work in concert. For example, if you spend too much time visioning, the rest of the organization can feel disconnected; if you spend all your time head-down in technician mode, it can be hard to see the big picture and you might not notice you’re walking in the wrong direction. Blocking time for creativity, and focusing that creativity on each of your three roles is a guaranteed path to success.
When someone asks me, “How are you?” my natural response is: “Good! Busy!” It’s reflexive and it’s true, but I think it’s also a self-validation—if I’m busy, I’m important and successful, right? But the next time someone asks me how I’m doing, I’ll try a reset and say: “Good! I’m focused!” This is a good way to keep the expectation and honor of focus high in a society that tells us that being busy is the only important indicator of success.
Focus Through Play
My daughter just turned three. As my wife and I were comparing different preschools and their mission information, we picked up on a common theme lauded by the standouts: children learn through play. Both independent- and group-play are vital to how children understand the world, and this is also a type of focus. Not a predictable type of focus but more a flowing focus, like water winding to your best learning path. This type of focus must be allowed, not pushed.
As an adult, I have a tendency to want to figure things out “in the lab” to control the method and increase the likelihood of success. But watching my daughter focus and discover the world through trial-and-error play, I’ve come to realize how important it is to just get out and try things—to entertain different outcomes. Real life has complications, but it also has unexpected opportunities. By simply trying things, we can learn faster and learn focus in a way that planning alone cannot provide. I now emulate my daughter’s method of learning, and allow the natural focus of discovery through doing.
There’s enough time left in 2019 to make it a spectacular year, no matter where you are on your path. If you make focus your mantra, you’ll find success, whether you’re 37,000 feet in the air, working in your office, or learning through play.
Mastering focus is one of the many things Rialto Agent University (RAU) can teach you. Check out our related courses below.