CONSULTANT DIRECTOR | MEMBER UAE SUPERBRANDS COUNCIL |
Whether it is the canvas of our life, our professional career, a challenge that we need to overcome, or an extremely simple task that we need to perform, choosing the right focal point can make all the difference. This applies in equal measure to what we do in the outside world, the family, or just in finding a deeper meaning of our existence.
But how does anyone unleash the power of focus?
The clarity of outcome desired is often directly proportional to the sharpness of focus. It also raises many relevant questions. Does one have the skills and competencies to get there? Does one need to acquire them by education or through strategic alliances, or a combination of both? Does one possess the resources, the knowledge to reach there?
For that, each of us needs to identify that one specific thing without which our success is not ensured. It could be knowledge, resources, the right team, the skills or anything else. When we begin, there are always many things crying for our attention, but if we keep our gaze on the end goal and the journey, the real challenges soon start to float up. The ability to crack our biggest challenge is what unleashes enormous energy. That is what needs our undivided attention.
About twenty years ago, an ex-boss of mine, and now a close friend, had taken up a new assignment with a company that was losing business rapidly. Employee morale was at an all time low, and many employees were seriously looking around for other opportunities. Fortunately for him, the market situation was such that too many good opportunities were not available. His job was to turn around the business. When I met him, I asked him “What is your plan? His reply was instantaneous “I need to find just one or two right persons, persons of character, commitment and integrity to partner with me and be committed to turn the place around. It will happen.” And that is exactly what happened. I firmly believe in the same philosophy.
More than a decade later, when I was heading another large organization as their number two person, this friend of mine and I met over a coffee. And he asked me what my direction was. My reply was equally prompt “The one thing to always keep in mind is to find two of the most important things that will bring the change desired, and go for them. If the list is longer, there may be one too many.”
Knowing where and how to begin is only half the story. The final outcome, depending on the task, can take from a few days to a lifetime. The attainment of a goal can be ensured only if we stay the course and continue to move ahead. Managing failures, surmounting challenges, enjoying the tailwind, enduring the headwind will all be par for the course, using a Golfer’s jargon. Maintaining and managing focus is an everyday exercise and becomes second nature if we master the art.
There can be two potential approaches, which apply not only to the world of business and making money, but for any area of our existence where we wish to evolve.
In one approach, we visualize the outcome, find the most important challenge or the place from where we can work up the most effective momentum and then concentrate our energies on that. As we succeed the path begins to open up.
But what happens if we fail? Well, we periodically go back to the drawing board, back to the basics.
In the span of our life, however smart or capable we may be, there will always be occasions where there will be failures. Some small, some debilitating. Sometimes, there may be multiple starts. If the vision is big enough or compelling enough, it will be a small price to pay in the long run.
Another approach is the jigsaw approach. It works best when we have a big vision that will take a long time and plenty of resources and energy to fructify. Where many different elements need to come together to define success. It could be a professional or life goal that can only play out over years or even decades, or an entire lifetime.
Just like in a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle we may not be able to start with one piece and build the entire picture by adding pieces around it. We may need to take one section and build that, then move to another section and build that and so on till finally we can bring them all together to make the complete picture.
The key in this approach is the ability to keep the big picture in mind. And every time we bring a piece of the puzzle together, we celebrate it. That keeps replenishing the energy.
Anyone can learn and use the power of focus at any age or stage of life.
Finally, if we look at the common threads in all the biographies of successful people across different schools of thought, profession, economic strata or geography we will find three similarities. Firstly, they all had a vision of the outcome that they wanted to actualize. It may have come early to them or sometime during their journey in life, but the real momentum always came once that vision came in place. Secondly, they ceaselessly worked to make it happen concentrating all their energies and resources. Work became like a hobby. And thirdly, failure was just another important teacher or challenge that required to be overcome.
Yet again, the best example of focus and the final outcome is the branding and positioning of the city of Dubai. Every low phase has sharpened the City’s focus, and ultimately pushed for an even better final outcome.