I firmly believe in the power of effective leadership, and I know that leadership excellence is the ultimate strategy for personal, professional and organizational success! I also believe that in order to achieve leadership excellence, you must sharpen your focus as a leader in order to be most effective.
A few years ago the Harvard Business Review published an article by Peter Bregman that still resonates with me today. The article is titled “Two Lists You Should Look At Every Morning,” and it contains some great food for thought regarding sharpening your focus.
Bregman reflects on how busy and full of distractions our lives are becoming, thanks in part to the remarkable technology we now have at our fingertips.
“The world is moving fast and it’s only getting faster. So much technology. So much information. So much to understand, to think about, to react to.”
In response to our fast-paced world, we find ourselves constantly trying to adjust our own lives and schedules to keep up. We try to take in all the information, read all the emails, use all the social media, and utilize the new technology and other resources to take on an even greater workload. But spreading our net so wide is counterproductive. Instead, we need to be even more intentional than ever about how we spend our time and where we focus our energies.
Bregman encourages readers to make two lists and review them every morning:
1. Your Focus List (the road ahead)
“What are you trying to achieve? What makes you happy? What’s important to you?”
2. Your Ignore List (the distractions)
“What are you willing not to achieve? What doesn’t make you happy? What’s not important to you? What gets in the way?”
While some people may already have the first list, very few have been intentional in making the second. Your time is a precious and limited resource; so to be most effective – both personally and professionally – you should focus on these two lists. Design your time around the things on the first list and have the discipline and courage to say “no” to the things on the second list.
“Review them each morning, along with your calendar, and ask: what’s the plan for today? Where will I spend my time? How will it further my focus? How might I get distracted? Then find the courage to follow through, make choices, and maybe disappoint a few people.”
Every time there is a demand on your attention, ask yourself whether it will further your focus or dilute it, and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ more often.
An excellent strategy for sharpening your focus and achieving greater success – personally, professionally and organizationally!
Discussion: What things on your second list are the hardest to say no to?