While serving on the board of directors of a fast growing savings and loan company, I watched, admired and learned from the focused thinking of our chairman. It is not an exaggeration to state that a fire could have been burning down the hall from where the board of directors met, and our chairman would have never noticed. When Tom focused on an issue, opportunity or challenge, he was absolutely laser-like and riveted to and on the issue at hand.
Tom had learned the skill, and had developed the capacity to block out virtually everything around him as he focused on an issue. This learned and well-honed skill and ability for highly focused thinking served the chairman well. He benefited personally, professionally, financially, socially and in every other area of his life. Many times during board meetings, I would intentionally observe and admire this man, as he practiced this somewhat rare ability and capacity. A learned ability and capacity that very few people learn well and regularly practice for the benefit of themselves and every life they touch.
In chapter two of his book entitled How Successful People Think, John Maxwell encourages readers who are already highly successful and those who desire more success to regularly and purposefully engage in focused thinking. Maxwell discusses how focused thinking:
- Harnesses energy toward a desired goal
- Gives ideas time to develop
- Brings clarity to the target
- Will take you to the next level
Maxwell addresses the question, “Where should you focus your thinking?” For the author, this means “Dedicating in-depth thinking time to four areas: leadership, creativity, communication and intentional networking.” Your choices and my choices will no doubt be different.
In order to determine the areas on which you should focus in-depth thinking, Maxwell suggests you consider:
- Your highest priorities
- Don’t allow others to set your agenda
- Focus on the areas in your life that bear the most fruit
- Discover and leverage your natural gifts and abilities
- Develop great dreams… to accomplish great things, you need a great dream
How can you stay focused? The author describes five techniques that have been used by many highly successful people.
The chapter ends with a discussion of “what you have to give up in order to go up.” The author states, “I’ve found that to do well at a few things, I have had to give up many things.”
- I can’t know everyone
- I can’t do everything… I strive for excellence in a few things rather than a good performance in many
- I can’t go everywhere
- I can’t be well-rounded
So what about you? Do you regularly and purposefully engage in focused thinking in order to leverage and maximize what has and will have the greatest impact on your life, and the lives of those you impact?
Buy the book. Spend some quality time in chapter two. Engage in Focused Thinking.