No Success Without External Focus

Success can be a very elusive thing.  It’s daunting, frustrating, it seems to quite often be just out of reach.
We desire success and pursue it, yet somehow success keeps getting away just before we catch it.
mouse seeks a cookie video - success focus

Elusive Success

There is a video on YouTube that was popular for a while and went viral.  It shows a mouse attempting to steal a cookie that is twice the size of the mouse and take it back to his hiding place.  We can begin to feel like this mouse must have felt as attempt after attempt resulted in failure.  This grand prize and yet we can’t bring it home.

Is Success the Focus?

Success can elusive, especially when we focus on success alone.
And that’s the problem.
When we focus simply on being a success, it’s very hard to be a success.  Because that’s all it becomes about.  Our dreams can make us focus on the inside sometimes, but that’s not what dreams are meant to do.
Our dreams aren’t meant to add value to us, our dreams are meant to add value to other people.
So if you learn to point your dreams and your actions outwardly –  if you get an external focus – and learn how to care about other people, learn to focus on other people with your dreams, then you are going to see significantly more success than what you have seen in the past – all by creating an external focus.
When we place our focus on others, we learn to love others.  We learn to care for others.  We get to know their stories.  We get to know their hopes and dreams.  We begin to see value in them.
When we see value in people, we are then in a position to add value to them.
By adding value to others, we create value in ourselves.  Once that happens, success will follow AS LONG AS WE REMAIN OPEN TO RECEIVING THE VALUE OTHERS WANT TO GIVE US.
But if we focus only on success, it remains out of reach.
Success, you see, is not a goal or a direct result of organized actions.  Success is a by-product of our behaviors, attitudes, and actions on behalf of those we have chosen to serve.  When we combine the power of our unique gifts and apply them to add value to other people – to create significance in their lives – success is a natural result.

Action Steps

Here’s a few thing to get you started in that direction:

  1. CARE FOR THE PEOPLE YOU ENCOUNTER.  Whether you encounter them once in a lifetime or whether you encounter them on a daily basis, learn to care for those people.  Learn to connect with them.  To find out more about them.  To be naturally curious about other people.  And from that, you are going to be able to seek to add value to other people to make a difference in their lives.
  2. LISTEN TO PEOPLE.  Listen to their concerns, listen to what their dreams are.
  3. SHARE YOUR DREAM WITH THEM. You may be able to build relationships out of that which may seem to be a one-time thing but become lifelong, mutually beneficial relationships.  People can’t add value to you unless you open up to them and make yourself vulnerable by sharing your passions and dreams.

If you need help getting started or even continuing your journey, I would love the opportunity to walk along side you.  Call me at 321-355-2442 and let’s see how I can help.

Vision and Crisis

It’s a natural thing.

As you go through your daily life, you sometimes lose track of where it is you wanted to go.  I do it; highly likely you do too.  Also likely that the most successful person you can think of does it as well.

Dreams get lost in the shuffle of daily living. Crises appear, fires need to be put out.  People are demanding our immediate attention.  Things crowd in and as they say you have trouble seeing the forest through the trees and we just lose track of where it is we wanted to go.

When you are up to your ass in alligators, its hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.There’s the old joke about the engineers that when you are up to your ears in alligators its hard to remember your initial objective was to drain the swamp.

And so we sometimes let our daily activities get in the way of our goals during the crisis of the moment.

Lead Through Crisis

As I said, it’s only natural and like the saying above, certainly not original.  We can easily excuse our lack of focus on our vision away using daily goings-on as a crutch.  After all, nobody would blame us, right?  You gotta survive, right?

But this is the opportunity for you to step up! The opportunity to come forward and be the leader you were meant to be by bringing that vision back to the forefront!

This is the time to shine!

So here’s a couple of steps you can take to move positively in the direction of keeping your vision in front and getting yourself in place to accomplish those goals.

  1. USE THE UP-DOWN METHOD. Write it down and post it up! Write that vision down on a piece of paper and post it up where you are going to see it on a daily basis. That serves as a daily reminder of what it is you are trying to accomplish.
  2. ASK FOR HELP – FORM A TEAM. Take your strengths and your weaknesses, find people whose strengths compliment your weaknesses. And team together to help accomplish that goal.
  3. SHARE THE VISION OFTEN. If you continually share the vision in words and actions to your team, that helps keep them focused on where it is you want to go.
  4. ADJUST THE PATH AS YOU GO, BUT NOT THE VISION! Things will get in the way and won’t always go the way we want them to go, but we need to keep that vision at the forefront; the final destination of where we want to go.
  5. HELP THE DREAMS OF OTHERS. As you bring team members on, they are going to have dreams of their own. See where your dreams mesh, where there are opportunities to work together for a win-win where everyone accomplishes their dream. You may find it is going on to greater things then you ever imagined possible.

Keeping that vision before you AND your team is critical.

Dissatisfaction and discouragement are not caused by the absence of things but the absence of vision.

Where will you go with your life or career? Anywhere a strong vision takes you.

Multitasking Comes to a Screeching Halt

About a year ago, I was driving my son and I home from a scout meeting.  We turned through an intersection and proceeded a few hundred yards forward I looked down to change the radio station.  At the same time, the car in front of me decided suddenly that they wanted to turn right into a parking lot and hit their brakes.  Lots of noise later, they have a beat up rear-end and my car is totaled.  Thankfully, no one was hurt.

A Do Everything World

Our world of multi-taskingWe all do it.  Folding laundry and watching TV.  Driving and changing the radio station.  Working on the laptop while talking to a co-worker on the phone.  Sitting in a meeting and sending an email.  Trying to do more than one thing at the same time because we don’t think there are enough hours in the day.  It’s called Multitasking and it is the biggest time waster of all!

“Wait”, you might say, “multitasking is a critical part of functioning in work and life today!  How can you say that it is a time waster?”

Because it is.

Your Bad Multitasking Self

The idea is that if we are multitasking then we are working on multiple things at the same time, juggling everything and keeping things going.  But that’s not what happens.  In most cases what happens is it simply means that you are doing multiple things badly.

It doesn’t help that multitasking is encourage by many employers today.  First, many companies advertise jobs where they specifically state in the job requirements that they want someone who can effectively multitask.  I guess my question is, how exactly do they measure that?  Secondly, with layoffs and streamlining, employers tell the survivors they must learn to do more with less, which unfortunately includes less staff.  But not less work.  While they don’t explicitly say it, they expect you to pick up all the slack and still do it within the same time frames.  So your choices at either to put in twice as much time or “multitask”.

The Case Against Multitasking

There are many reasons why multitasking simply doesn’t work.  The reasons run from the logical and practical to the medical and psychological.  We’ll cover just a few.

task switchingFirst, understand that what you are doing is not actually multitasking.  It is actually just task-switching.  What it reminds me of is Microsoft Windows operating system on computers.  Early versions of Windows offered a way to jump between tasks.  You could still only run one thing at a time, but you could jump between applications.  That was called task-switching.  It wasn’t until later versions where Windows would allow you to actually run multiple applications at the same time.  What we do when we allegedly multitask is the first one – we are simply task-switching.  Problem is, we aren’t a computer with an operating system designed to do that, so we have a lot more trouble than Windows did jumping from one task to another.  And that’s saying something.

Other reasons:

  • Multitasking does not increase productivity, it decreases it.  There is research to suggest that multitasking actually reduces productivity by as much as 40%.
  • Studies show that task-switching rapidly actually increases the time it takes to complete a task.
  • Task-switching slows you down because you have to re-align yourself each time you jump to the next task.  That means reaction times are slower, so if you are performing any task that requires quick reaction and reflex your performance suffers greatly.
  • Evidence shows more mistakes are made when multitasking instead of focused work.
  • Multitasking is stressful.  When multi-tasking in a fast-paced environment, your heart rate increases and stays higher longer than normal.  There is also emotional stress caused by the fallout of mistakes and failure while multitasking.
  • We are designed to focus on one thing at a time.  Again, lots of research to support this.  Health Magazine cites a 2013 University of Utah study that found the better you thought you were at multitasking, the worse you actually were.

In summary, you suck at multitasking.  And so do I and so does everyone else.

So, if you were doing something else while you were reading this, stop it until you finish.

Now leave your comments and thoughts.

Okay, now you’re done.  Go back to that other thing.


Re-setting Time

Trying to manage timeThis past week was the time for most where we change our clocks to end Daylight Saving Time.  I remembered it always, as many did, by the phrase “Spring Forward, Fall Back“.  Of course, most of us don’t have to worry about it much anymore as our computers and smartphones will do it for us.  That, and a few years ago I got one of those alarm clocks that automatically adjusts for Daylight Saving Time.  After that, my only chore is to go re-set the ones that don’t automatically adjust.

The gist of it for us is that we theoretically “gained an hour” this weekend.  Never mind that we really just get back the one we lost in the Spring, everyone looks at as gaining an hour.

So here’s a question for you:

how much more productive did that “extra hour” make you this weekend?

Since it occurs in the middle of the night, likely the only benefit most see from it is the extra hour of sleep (that you lost in the Spring).  Some, like me, got up at the same time as always, usually around 5 a.m., and followed our normal routine.  Being a weekend, many were taking time off from being really productive anyway; but even if we weren’t it is doubtful that the extra hour made us any more productive.  It has more to do than just with the fact that the change occurs in the middle of the night.

Time is Not Important

Time is not what makes us productive.  With each tick of the clock, time passes no matter what.  Twenty-four hours and today becomes yesterday, tomorrow becomes today.  That’s all any of us ever have; from the President of the United States to the most successful person in your organization to the least productive person you know.  Everyone has 24 hours in a day.  Yet, many times, our time is frittered away with things like

  • Constantly checking our Facebook page (this has become one of the biggest wasters around)
  • Playing games, either online, on a smartphone or tablet, or on a game box
  • Television (and most of it is trash)
  • Procrastinating
  • Going to meetings
  • Being somewhere else in our mind other than where we are
  • Running in multiple directions throughout the day

There is, of course, much more but that is a good start.

Your 110

A good friend of mine and a very wise person, Jeff Bigby of Awaken the Nation, shows the math of our time in his presentations.  Jeff asks his workshop participants about how they spend their 110.  See, Jeff points out the following formula on your weekly schedule:

  • There are 168 hours in a week
    • We spend an average of 56 hours sleeping (assuming you are sleeping eight hours)
    • We spend 40 hours working (or more, not including the commute)
    • About two hours a day in meals for a total of 14 hours per week
    • That leaves about 58 hours per week.
    • Go to church?  Let’s say two hours.  That’s 56 left or 8 hours a day.

110 hours a week is manageable time

So, in that eight hours a day we have “administrative” things we have to do during the day, plus whatever else we want to do to.  Reading, family time, devotional/meditation time, community service, watching television, etc.  The point is that there is a part of your week you have limited control over.  Most of us NEED eight hours of sleep a night.  Most of us MUST work 8 hours a day for five days a week.  Eating 3-5 regular meals a day is CRITICAL to good health (as is eating the right things)!  So we have 110 hours a week over which we have almost total control!

So the issue is not time; it is how productively you are using that time.  You cannot manage time, no matter how hard you try.  So, what do you manage?

Manage YOU Not Time

I am no different from you on this.  I waste time pretty much every day.  But I have become aware of that and aware of my ability to make choices in changing that and examining my time wasters.  If I can do that, I am extremely confident that you can too.  Here’s some of the things I am doing to help bring that under control:

  1. Prioritize and Categorize
    Establish things into areas of must do, should do, nice to do for the week.  Ideally, do this on Sunday night or Monday morning.  Within each of those categorize them based on the part of your life they address; such as work project, family, health, etc.  Within each category, number them based on importance.  The importance is determined by time constraint, critical stage, or just your own personal plan.
  2.  The Daily Big Three
    Each morning, or the night before, list the top three things you need to carry out that day.  Take the top items of each category and place them on your list.  Number those according to importance.  There may be more than three, but the point is that you don’t go to bed tonight without accomplishing the Big Three.  Place the bullfrogs at the top of the list; the things you procrasitate on or simply hate to do.  Get them out of the way first thing and the rest of the day will be pleasant by comparison.
  3. Self-Talk
    It doesn’t matter what others say to us, it matters what we say to ourselves.  Encourage yourself. Talk yourself up.  Remember what you are made of.  Many of your tasks will be things you don’t want to do, have often gone out of your way to avoid, and might even be incredibly boring.  If you don’t talk yourself up, you will simply find another excuse.
  4. Reward System
    For each item accomplished, provide a reward of some type.  It should be a reward that is quick, easy, and yet provides incentive.  If you are a Facebook fanatic, each item completed earns you 15 minutes of Facebook time.  Now, for that to be a real incentive has to mean that you aren’t getting Facebook time without accomplishing the task.  If you are going to do it anyway, it’s no incentive.
  5. Consequences
    Sometimes one of the big three does not get accomplished due to something out of our control, but that’s a rarity.  Either way, fault or not, provide a consequence for not completing one of the big three.  Just like providing consequences for your kids, it has to be timely, connected, and reasonable.  For example, I read about what person who uses the consequence that when he doesn’t accomplish his tasks he wakes himself up in the middle of the night to work for an hour or two.  He values his sleep so much that it provides him incentive to manage himself better and avoid that consequence.  Be careful, though; if you find yourself administering a consequence too much it starts to lose its impact.  Change them up from time to time.
  6. Analyze
    At the end of the week, take a look back and see how things have gone.  Did things go better or worse?  Where could things have gone better?  Why?  How could you do it differently?  What can you tell yourself to help make it better?

So this is a little system I use for me.  How about you?  How do you manage yourself daily?  Got tips and tricks?  Be a river and not a reservoir!  Share them here