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Power of Focus

A typical diode laser. When mounted with exter...

A typical diode laser. When mounted with external optics these lasers can be tuned mainly in the red and near infrared. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Consider two sources of energy: the sun and a laser. The sun is a powerful source of energy. It showers the earth with billions of kilowatts of energy every hour. Yet with minimal protection – say a hat and some sunscreen – you can bask in the sunlight for hours with few negative effects. On the other hand, a laser uses a weak source of energy and focuses it in a cohesive stream of light, producing intense heat and power. With a laser, you can drill a hole in a diamond or treat certain cancers. That’s the power of focus!


It works the same for your team. Laser-like goals require less energy to yield greater results. Clarity helps your team succeed because they can better prioritize their time and energy to focus on things that are most important.


If focus is so powerful and productive, why do so many leaders struggle with diffused employee efforts? Today’s change-intensive, information-loaded business world creates so many distractions that it’s hard for teams (and leaders) to stay focused on their most important goals. These distractions steal time and energy and blur the line of sight between our daily tasks and what’s most important to our team. As a result, activity can get mistaken for productivity.


I recently read this saying on a poster: “When winds of change blow hard enough, even the most trivial of objects can become deadly projectiles.” Inspiring leaders consistently define and refine their team’s focus to help them see clearly through the winds of change … and achieve extraordinary results.


Diffusion of effort is the enemy of focus … and success. The most important decision for a leader is to decide what is most important. Less important tasks should never steal resources from the most important task. Therefore, our focus cannot be 10 things or five things or even two things. Every team has one thing that is most important. That one thing, if achieved, enables everything else to fall into place.


Your team’s focus might be: producing defect-free products; providing the fastest service available; developing leading edge products; creating relationships that customers cannot walk away from; or meeting the technology needs of other departments. These are just examples – your focus has to be your focus. And it should guide all your decisions and actions.


A laser-sharp focus does not happen overnight. It takes time and effort to define, refine, reinforce and communicate your focus, but it needs to start now.


Action Questions:


1. Is my team’s focus clear to all of my team members?


2. What do I need to change to have a more laser-like focus for my team?


3. What tasks or initiatives must I say “No” to so my team can stay focused on what’s most important?




“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand.
The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus. ”  
– Alexander Graham Bell



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August 2019
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