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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

You get what you focus on

Note: Check out the book Enlightened Leadership: Getting to the Heart of Change by Ed Oakley and Doug Krug. Published in 1994, this book is still a great read for leaders.

Nothing earth shattering here: You get what you focus on.

However, that maxim goes two ways. There’s an old saying regarding race drivers: Watch the track, not the wall. The reason is simple: If you focus on the track and you stay on the track. If you focus on the wall, you hit the wall!

Just ask any traffic cop about this phenomenon, and he or she will tell you that many police officers get hit while giving traffic tickets because other drivers focus on the flashing police lights and actually hit what they focus on! This is one reason that officers now park at an angle when they stop cars on the road—to shield themselves from oncoming-focus-entranced drivers.

Here’s a simple experiment you can do at home: Fill a cup very full with water and carry it from one room to the other. The first time you do this, focus on where you’re going, not the cup of water. The second time, focus on the water and NOT spilling it. I guarantee you that when you focus on the destination, not the barrier—slopping the water onto the floor—you’ll be much better off.

Same is true at work. Focus on results, not reasons why something’s failing. Focus on what you have to do to succeed and you’re much more likely to hit the mark. Lots of work these days on zero defects—in fact focusing too much on defects, actually attracts them and can make you crazy searching for them. Better to focus on 100% results (positive) side of the equation, not the reasons (blame) side of the equations. Also, does wonders for keeping teams positively energized. See the next post for more on that.

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