Focus is an important principle in leadership. A leader can be likened to a captain in charge of a ship represented by his/her followers, and if the leader fails to focus that means the ship is heading for a wreck. Defined as the concentration of attention or energy on something, focus is one attribute that is difficult to cultivate in a society that rewards multitasking. Although it is considered a skill in leadership, the challenge with multitasking is that it makes it hard to focus on issues which, from time to time, may require full and immediate attention.
In order to succeed, a leader must have a kind of “super sight” that can only happen when he/she is focused. As Jack Canfield observed, “Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfilment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.”
Despite the fact that real leadership is desperately needed in all aspects of our society today, the multitude of distractions we face often prevent us from not only seeing the opportunity but also seizing it. This article presents practical insights that will help you surmount this challenge.
Prioritise your responsibilities
Anyone who is called into leadership will have to deal with so many tasks. Sometimes the situation can be so overwhelming that it could discourage us from doing the needful. Someone once asked John Wanamaker, that great American pioneer of the department store, “How do you get the time to run a Sunday school for four thousand scholars, in addition to the business of your stores, your work as Postmaster General, and other obligations?” Instantly, Wanamaker replied: “Why? The Sunday school is my business! All other things are just things.” Wanamaker understood how to prioritise his responsibilities. That’s why he was able to remain focused and achieve such great success.
Keep to your source of motivation
Everyone has a source of motivation. Consciously connecting with this source of motivation can boost your staying power and see you through every task that you undertake. Don’t lose steam midway into a task because you are bothered with the end result. Rather, as Greg Anderson says, “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
Understand your scope
What matters at the end of every leader’s journey is whether he/she fulfilled his/her calling, be it spiritual or secular. A leader must therefore understand and stay within the scope of his/her calling. This will keep the leader from diverting to other causes which are nothing but distractions, to the extent that they are irrelevant to the calling.
Stop your distractions before they start
Start your day by taking time to assess the most common distractions and consider ways to limit or minimise your exposure to them. Another way to stop your distractions is through meditation.
Now that you know how to maintain focus, it is also important to realise that your commitment will be tested. You must therefore develop the necessary discipline to back up your decision to remain focused. The degree of your achievement and scope of your impact will be directly affected by the depth of your focus.
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