The Real Reason You Don’t Focus on What’s Important

Credit: Artful Doodlers

Bruce Lee said, “The successful warrior is the average man, but with laser-like focus.”

He should have added: laser-like focus on what’s important.

Because, you know what’s most important, don’t you — what actions will move the needle in your business. And yet you get caught up in things that are urgent and demanding immediate attention, but not that important in the long term.

“As a leader, says Adam Pisoni, Yammer CTO, “you’ll probably feel great about how busy you are. It feels like you’re adding so much value, when it’s just a sign that shit is rolling uphill to you too quickly.” 

Like my CEO client who runs a real estate development firm and found himself having too many low-priority conversations, like what size dogs should be allowed on the properties.

Or the tech founder who answered the phone to take a (small!) customer order and then got caught up in sending the order form herself, instead of delegating the follow-up to someone on her team.

Or the CTO who is constantly getting pulled into team meetings and, for months now, hasn’t been focusing on the most important thing — the long-term product development strategy they need to stay competitive.

Here’s the thing: this is normal and human. We all like to feel needed.

Also, your brain will always react to urgency as if it’s a survival threat. It doesn’t make much distinction between “client has question about new feature” and “HAIR IS ON FIRE!”

And, your brain loves instant gratification. When it perceives that something is “done,” it releases serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. And it doesn’t distinguish betweenunimportant“done” — ‘checked email!’—  andimportantdone — ‘Outlined strategic plan!’

It will always crave the feeling of “done.”

Bottom line: none of natural instincts are going to change by themself. So if you have a big vision — for your team, your business — it’s up to you to to be vigilant about managing your attention.

So what would happen if you stopped reacting to the tasks that are urgently in your face…and started focusing relentlessly on what’s important for the long term?

First, you’d end the day with a sense of deep satisfaction that it was meaningful and well spent. This would make it easier to get up and do it again the next day, and the next. Seeing your singular focus, your team and colleagues would start to do the same, and be more respectful with their requests. Focus is contagious.

Who knows, you could be like my CEO client who stopped having “dog” conversations and put his focus on business development. He sent me a long list of “wins,” including: being selected for the NYC board of the world’s largest executive association, getting press in the Wall Street Journal, establishing regular contact with multiple billionaires and entering not one but two international markets.

I know it sounds like an easy shift to make, but let’s face it, if it were easy you would have already done it. But you don’t have to stay trapped in distracted mode.

If you’re committed to doing what it takes to get on the fast track to building your team/company, then click here and schedule a free Breakthrough call with me. We’ll come up with a clear game plan so you can be the next one sending me a long list of things you’ve accomplished.