Yes, we have to focus!
The so-called Y (or better interrupt) generation has big difficulties to handle it what I see daily in my classroom.
Focus is the thinking skill that allows people to begin a task without procrastination and then maintain their attention and efforts until the task is complete. Attention is a mental muscle and like any other muscle, it can be strengthened through the right kind of exercise.
During my university years I spent many hours practicing ballroom dancing on the competition level. Vienna waltz was our warm up procedure but not just one round, but ten or more in a raw. I have learned that the secret to not get disoriented is to focus on a point far in the distance and visually always following the spot (or your partner’s face) extracts the entire surrounding environment. The same goes if you lead a company: you must find a beacon and drive your organization passionately in that direction.
Organizations and countries need people with strong focus on (important) goals. They all need a talent to continually learn how to do things better or best. Without such high-innovative performers there is no innovation, productivity and change.
Therefore, focus is the state or quality of having or producing a clear visual definition – a center of interest or activity we do. So, being focused means thinking about one thing while filtering out distractions. It is an important tool that can and will shape your life. In a longitudinal study tracking the fates of all 1,037 children born during a single year in the 1970’s in the New Zealand city of Dunedin particularly compelling results came out (Source: The Focused Leader, by Daniel Goleman, 2013):
For several years during childhood the children were given a battery of tests of willpower, including the psychologist Walter Mischel’s legendary “marshmallow test”—a choice between eating one marshmallow right away and getting two by waiting 15 minutes. In Mischel’s experiments, roughly a third of children grab the marshmallow on the spot, another third hold out for a while longer, and a third manage to make it through the entire quarter hour.
Years later, when the children in the Dunedin study were in their 30s and all but 4% of them had been tracked down again, the researchers found that those who’d had the cognitive control to resist the marshmallow longest were significantly healthier, more successful financially, and more law-abiding than the ones who’d been unable to hold out at all. In fact, statistical analysis showed that a child’s level of self-control was a more powerful predictor of financial success than IQ, social class, or family circumstance.Based on our own perception of what matters an employee in a company and/or people in any country all make their choices about where and what to focus on. Therefore, leaders are guiding not just their own attention (focus) but, to a large extent, everyone else’s too.
Consequently, one of primary tasks in leadership is to direct devotion. But lacking their own focus leaders cannot awaken in others what they lack.
An externally focused leader is driven by all of the outside forces pressing in on the company. But honestly, a leader actually has very little control over those things.
Inner focus attunes us to our emotions and intuitions, guiding values and better decisions while external focus lets us navigate the larger world. Can you then have only one focus?
“Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, 'Is this necessary?'” in Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.