I have come to appreciate the need for focus, in my life as well as my business.
Last year, I took the time to create an About page on my website. This is not a fun task. It’s hard to distill who you think you are down to a single document – one that you are willing to share with any person who might read it. Creating this About page, though, forced me to focus on who I am and who I want to be. In the end, I chose to describe myself in the context of what I care about: family, games, and faith.
To be sure, I’m not the father or husband I hope to be. Nor do I have the skills I need to run my business as I know it should be run. And I would be a prideful liar if I were to say I have the faith I desire to. The very act of creating my About page – by focusing my life story and writing it down – has helped motivate me toward achieving those things I desire most in life.
Giving voice to your desires in a public way will motivate you to focus on what is most important to you.
What I’ve learned about focus:
1) Focus must be personal. You can have mission statements and broad plans, but every person needs a focus. Every team needs a focus, one that incorporates and feeds off the focus given to each team member.
2) Focus must be clear. Spending more time with your kids is not focus; spending an hour with your kids every day is. Increasing your sales is not focus; growing sales by $2,000 per month is. Being kind is not focus, volunteering once a month at a local soup kitchen is.
3) Focus must be visible. You don’t need to write it on your website, but write it somewhere and look at it every day. I have a clear focus for each of the areas of my life I hope to improve. These are on my wall, above my computer, and (thanks to NudgeMail) sent to my In Box every morning.
In addition to the above, it is also imperative that you remove distractions from your focus. I spent years without the ability to say ‘No’ to a new idea. Every idea had to be tested… Now! Pretty soon, I was doing a dozen different things – some well, some not so well. Last year, I decided to disentangle myself from commitments that kept me from my focus. Some commitments were killed altogether; I left Iron GM in November, to focus on Gamerati. Others were incorporated into my central goal or pushed back until they made more sense; I took down my game review site, and will incorporate it into the Gamerati site once that is built.
Removing distractions includes removing distracted or distracting people. It’s hard to part ways with someone you work with, particularly if you enjoy having that person around. Letting an employee go often feels like a break-up. But, if that person is unable to focus on their job, or keeps you or your team from focusing on the task at hand, you need to let them go. In the end, they will be better off in a job they can focus on, and your other employees will get more out of their jobs when they can focus on creating value and changing the world.
What is your focus?
Is there anything in your life that is distracting you from that focus?