Focus in Leadership and in Life

Picture acquired from  LeadershipWatch

Picture acquired from LeadershipWatch

For years, we have been told that the ability to multi-task is essential for success in the workplace. Some leadership “experts” have likened multi-tasking to spinning plates on the end of long sticks. We have been told that the more plates you can spin, the more impressive you are as a professional. Then, after we have multiple plates spinning, we are stuck in a situation where we have to keep them all spinning all the time or we and our career like the plates will come crashing down.

Now, as I read more about leadership and personal development, I am seeing evidence from real-life scenarios and psychological studies which have proven that multi-tasking is the worst thing you can do for any kind of real, long lasting development. “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” Think about that for a moment (seriously, pause for a couple of minutes ponder the ramifications). Have you ever wondered why it is that circus lion trainers take a chair into the cage with them? When all four legs of a chair are facing the lion, the lion is trying to focus on all four legs of the chair. This causes the lion’s brain to be overwhelmed and he cannot focus on his strength…killing the prey that is in front of him.

John Maxwell, provides a recommendation on seeking to be focused in life and leadership. He has a formula or perhaps what should be called a ratio of how to focus your time as a leader.

  • 70% - Focus on your strengths

    • Everyone has areas of incompetence. Pursue your areas of strength rather than weaknesses.

  • 25% - Focus on new things

    • Spend time learning about new things that relate to your strengths. This is where you will find tremendous growth

  • 5% - Focus on areas of weakness

    • It is unavoidable that you will need to address areas of weakness. Seek to minimize the amount of time spent here

Something to consider…have you been majoring in the minors? Do you spend so much time in your areas of weakness that you lose sight of your strengths? Here are some further thoughts to consider in gaining more focus:

  • Work on yourself - You are your own greatest asset and detriment. What are you doing to help yourself?

  • Work at your priorities - List them out 3 or 4 priorities, and be clear. You are the only one who can fight for your priorities.

  • Work on your strengths - As you follow the formula listed above, you will see tremendous growth

  • Work with your contemporaries - We are all in work groups, each individual has their own strengths. You cannot be effective on your own.

Are you unsure of your strengths? Perhaps you can ask a trusted colleague. Consider purchasing, "StrengthsFinder 2.0”, better yet see if your whole team can get a copy. Go through the questions and compare/contrast the results.

It is up to you, on how to best focus your efforts in leadership and life. I have found it better to learn from those who have gone through the struggles and are willing to share their insights. Find a mentor, read a book, connect on LinkedIn with a leader whose thoughts and opinions you trust. You will find that the more you focus on your strengths in life and in leadership, the more success you will achieve.