I let projects accumulate. Consider it enthusiasm.
That means I’ll let 100 draft posts bottle up on this blog. I’ll sit on too many drafts of newsletters. I’ll get a household project half-way done.
In truth, I consider this habit of mine a healthy one for getting things done: I’ll always get myself to take the first step of a project. Sometimes though something will linger too long.
To solve for that, every few months, I’ll try to protect some time and call for a ‘Laser Day Weekend,’ in which I shut down, delete, end, complete, finish or discard lingering projects. I take a very different mindset when my intention is to finish a thing.
Once I get on a role, I can pick up steam and get plenty done. Give it a try, the frame of reference helps plenty.
You’d be tricked into thinking there are most often big, grand moments of obvious distractions that you as a leader can turn down.
We lose focus, in our projects, organizations and efforts, not at once, but by slow trickle. You can’t stay focused with a single no, it takes constant vigilance. Lost focus comes with a 1,000 small questions no reasonable person would say no to.
A leader has to have a clear destination in mind and constantly remind herself of it. Sometimes, it will take grand moments of cleansing to undo many small moments gone unnoticed.
Because it is not something that comes naturally to me, I think often of focus. In 2009, I was thinking about how to fine-tune a focus on this very blog. In 2011, I made a resolution to focus, after a flurry of experiments. I did something similar when I turned 30. Entrepreneurial leaders have always advocated for obsessive focus, to be the absolute best and most powerful in one clear way, to strive for monopoly.
(Photo of Focus by Stefan Cosma via Unsplash)
If you are leading an organization, it seems there are three main speeds you should be going.
- Experimenting — new ideas, creative thought, innovation
- Focusing — paring down the projects and efforts to get to our clear mission
- Executing — moving forward toward that mission
The trouble seems to come when we’re trying to do all of them — or none of them — at the same time. That’s when we get distracted and lose our way.
Staying focused on one of those speeds at a time is more than difficult enough. Now think about being able to cycle through them in the life of an organization when you know you either need new ideas or to find a focus or to make good on that mission. That takes remarkable leadership.