Are You Focused or Blurry?
“I want you to close your eye, take a breath in. Now slowly let it out and focus on your target.”
If you spent some time at a summer camp, you might have heard similar advice from an archery, rifle or BB gun instructor. Maybe you played basketball or baseball and had a coach that would tell you to focus on where you wanted the ball to go and not to be distracted by the other players, the lights or the crowd in the stands. As a player, your objective was to make a basket or to make sure that your throw reached the other player’s glove.
Whatever your experience in sports or hobbies might have been, most of us had at one time, coaches or mentors pushing the idea of focusing on what we were trying to accomplish. Many times when a business is in startup mode, or if it has been stuck for a time in flat or declining revenues, the leadership of that business may be tempted to try many different avenues to generate revenue and grow the organization.
Unfortunately for organizations and leaders, the temptation to start adding products or services, in the hopes of finding greater revenues, only leads to further distractions. This is not to say that once a company has a product that is stable and generating profits not to expand or produce the next version of their product. Rather, I am suggesting that if a product or service is not producing the revenues that you are looking for, diverting attention into other areas can dilute valuable resources.
For example, from time to time fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King will launch activities to reduce the number of menu offerings that the restaurants carry. Those fast food companies will acknowledge that they have added too many items to their menus and that their menus are not focused on what they do best, hamburgers.
Just like the example of McDonald’s and Burger King, we might have a strong idea or product that we know will succeed but we often become impatient and want the results now. Alternatively, we may find we have a good number of service offerings, but think that by adding more we can capture a greater number of customers resulting in a greater level of revenue.
In the first example, instead of continuing to focus efforts on the leading idea or product we start to dilute our ability to focus by introducing another product or idea that we then need to grow and develop while still working on the first idea. In the second example of trying to add more services or products to the existing line, there is a risk that we move away from our strength and dilute ourselves to the point where we no longer do one thing great but now we do many things at an average or below average level.
One of my virtual mentors and a great podcaster, John Lee Dumas has broken down the word FOCUS into following acronym.
I am not sure that this acronym is John’s original idea or not, but it does not matter. What matters to entrepreneurs and leaders is that we do not allow ourselves to become diluted or distracted from what it is that we do best.
Coach’s Wrap Up
Just like that little boy or girl standing alone on a pitcher’s mound with a batter at the plate, an umpire behind the catcher, a runner on first base, coaches moving around, fans cheering or booing and other players yelling at the pitcher, we have to sometimes remind ourselves what the coach told us in practice, “Focus on the glove.” If you throw to the glove and block everything else out, good things will happen.
When your business is not moving as fast as you would like or when you are tempted to add more services to what you already do well, be careful that you are not becoming unfocused and taking your attention away from where you will have your best chance for success.
Have you ever been involved in an activity or business where you lost focus? What was the result? How did you regain your focus?