Focus on All or Nothing?

You have read about it. You have heard podcasts about it.

FOCUS. We are to be focused professionals. Get results. Get our teams focused. Do it. Do it now!

And when we try to focus on everything, we tend to accomplish nothing (or at least very little). I know you’ve experienced this. It can stress you out, right? So what can you do?

You cannot do it all. Even if it sounds noble, you cannot focus on everything all of the time. Multi-tasking is ineffective. Those that say it are blind to their own short-comings.

Try a new approach. Have you heard of “kaizen”? It literally means “good change” – taking small incremental steps toward betterment. I want to merge the idea of kaizen with the process Dr. BJ Fogg shares about behavior change and tiny habits. These thoughts are from 2 books I’ll share at the end of this post.

Instead of trying to focus on everything in order to become better at it all, practice kaizen and tiny habits by picking 1-2 things to focus on for betterment. Don’t feel guilty. Just simply pick 1-2 things you wish to focus on for the next week (maybe 2) and work to become better in that area.

For example, say you want to develop healthier habits. You know you need to exercise. Walking is a great exercise. Studies show that a 20 minute walk really wakes up your brain. So you decide you are going to focus on this.

Kaizen – taking small steps toward your goals – says that you can take a 20 minute walk. Not 2 miles. Not a 2 hour hike. A 20 minute walk. You can do that, right? Now couple this with Dr. Fogg’s idea of a tiny habit and pick a “prompt” that helps you accomplish this habit. Lay out your walking shoes the night before and place them by your bed if you want to walk in the morning. You wake up, get your business done and then you dress and lace up the shoes and walk for 20 minutes. And do it for days in a row. Create a tiny habit and take small steps (literally) toward your goal.

No one can effectively focus on all the things that bombard us. With no guilt, pick 1-2 things you want to become better at. And then take small, incremental steps towards that goal. Create a habit by adding this routine to what you are already doing. Using prompts to build habits is highly effective. Then, in a week or two, pick 1-2 more things.

As you become better, you’ll feel better about these small accomplishments. And new habits can form. And new, effective habits bring good results.

Focus is not all or nothing. Focus can be 1-2 things that move you forward. Isn’t that what you want?

Books to consider reading:

The Spirit of Kaizen by Robert Maurer

Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, Ph.D

Focus Mapping

I am reading Tiny Habits by Dr. BJ Fogg. As I’ve mentioned this in the past, I highly recommend this book. In fact, I’ve already purchased 2 copies that I’ve give away.

Early on in the book, Dr. Fogg addresses behavior change as it relates to motivation. I’m sure that each of us have struggled with motivation in the past. January 1 of any year is filled with hope-filled aspirations. Local gyms are packed with the right-now motivated.

But visit there March 1 and the crowds are gone.

We have team members who know they need to improve their results. They tell you they want to. They tell you they will. They seem motivated. But their behaviors do not match the words.

Dr. Fogg lays out a pretty simple concept to help any of us hone in on what we truly want to do and then guides the reader through a process he has developed that identifies behavior options that could get us to the desired goal. From those behavior options, his process then guides the reader to identify which of those behaviors are “High-Impact Behaviors” (very effective at helping you reach your goal. The reader also can identify which of the behavior options are “Low-Impact” ones.

Next, the reader is guided to identify which behavior options truly have the necessary fuel to get done. Dr. Fogg identifies this continuum as identifying the behavior options that you know you can get yourself to do and those you know you cannot get yourself to do.

I have already run this exercise with a couple of my team members and/or colleagues. The conversations that have resulted and the clarity for behavior change have been very good.

Dr. Fogg focuses on behavior change vs. motivation. “Aspirations are abstract desires” like wanting your kids to clean their rooms. “But aspirations and outcomes are not behaviors.” We need aspirations. But it will be the behaviors we do that will get us to our desired state.

Pick up this book. You learn specifically how to do what I’ve described above. Focus mapping and behavior design that Dr. Fogg has developed and shares in the book are great coaching tools that anyone can use.

“Here’s the unfortunate thing – most people believe motivation is the true engine of behavior change. Yes, motivation is one of the 3 elements that drives behavior. The problem is that motivation is often fickle…you overestimate future motivation. It happens to the best of us. You are not dumb or frivolous or easily hoodwinked. You are human.”

More of. Less of.

On this early morning (4:51 am) of September 11, I woke up with this on my mind.

Tony Jeary first introduced me to an idea, a concept that changes lives. This idea helps people become better. Goals become focused. Behaviors take on new meaning. This is not only practical – it is doable.

More of. Less of.

Think about a goal you have:

  • Monthly sales goal
  • Weight loss
  • Self-development
  • Relationships

Now that you’ve got that one goal in mind, ask yourself, “What can I do more of to move me closer to my goal?” Then ask, “What do I need to do less of that is hindering me from achieving my goal?”  Now go do it!

It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? We already know what we need to do more of to hit sales goals (more calls, more follow-ups/follow-throughs). We already know what we need more of to become healthier (drink more water, exercise, eat more veggies). And you can list what you need to do less of to develop yourself into becoming the better version of where you are today (i.e. less TV?). And you have a lot of experience already to know what you need more of and less of to make your relationships thrive.

Let’s broaden this thought out. My country…our world…needs more of something, and it all needs less of something.

  • Prosperity?
  • Equity?
  • Justice?
  • Violence?
  • Chaos?

What I woke up to was this: more love. This is not new. This is not radical. This is and has been the answer forever. And we all know how to do more love.

  • Smile – let your spirit brighten someone else’s day.
  • Laugh – it’s healing.
  • Care – do something for your elderly neighbor. Buy someone’s meal at a restaurant (without them knowing it was you). Volunteer.

What do you think would happen in our world if everyone did one random act of kindness today? Just one. More love. That’s what would happen.

So, why don’t we? Perhaps we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we become blind to others. Maybe we are so inwardly focused on our own fears, worries, anxieties that we cannot see how others struggle. Perhaps we need less focus on ourselves and more attention on those around us.

Today I challenge myself – and you – to do more of something that moves you towards love in your part of the world.

  • Smile more.
  • Tell someone you appreciate them. Literally, tell them and be specific.
  • Be helpful.
  • Compliment more.
  • Find the good in someone else.
  • Say “thank you” often.
  • Email/Call someone you have not been in contact with. Tell them you have been thinking about them.
  • Do a random act of kindness.

In my country, today is a somber day. We remember a day filled with hate, destruction, and murder. But we also remember more about our heroes who gave their lives so others lived. We remember a city that rebuilt itself as our nation rebuilt its hope. We remember buildings filled with people who loved others, helped others, and inspired others in the face of unspeakable horror. We remember.

And today, we do more. We love…more. And one by one, person by person, this love changes our nation and our world.

 

Tuesday Tip – Who else would benefit from knowing this?

Many of you read articles, blog posts, books or listen to a TED talk and you are inspired. You learn something new. You actually make changes in your professional/personal life as a result. Does it all end there…with you?

My tip for today is take this one step further. Why else would benefit from knowing or getting exposed to this information?

  • Your team?
  • Your colleagues?
  • Another leader in your community?
  • Your family?
  • Your mentor or mentee?

Of course learning and developing as a leader is critically important. Take it one more step and share what you have learned with someone else. Email them a link to that blog post. Send them a podcast link. Take a photo of a powerful paragraph and email that to them. Share what you’ve learned over coffee or lunch.

Some folks will be receptive to this. Others will not. You’ll learn who is open to this. Focus on adding value. This sharing – it is about them, not about you. You could help someone launch something incredible in their life!

Confidence Can Be Learned

Below is a portion of an article was published in 2014 by Melissa Stephenson on Fulfillment Daily

What happens if a team member is not confident in their job?

  • Work is produced at a slower pace
  • Quality of work could suffer
  • Results could be lacking the detail needed
  • Your team member’s growth & development could stall out
  • and more…

Read Melissa’s post below to learn how to build confidence. Use this in an upcoming coaching session. Wait…what?…you are lacking confidence? This article will then help you! And be sure to click on the link at the end to read the entire article. There’s more insights from Melissa there.

Research on brain plasticity shows that our brains physically change in response to new experiences, thought patterns, and behaviors. This means that we can train ourselves to think differently about challenging situations—and, in turn, respond more confidently to them.

 

We can cultivate confidence by practicing thoughts and behaviors that increase our own self-belief. Try these:

1. Seek opportunities to practice success

Research shows that successfully mastering a challenging task strengthens our belief that we can achieve the same success in the future. A common example of this is public speaking: Although many people shy away from it, those who practice public speaking regularly get better at it, become more comfortable with it, and become more confident in it, too. Accumulating examples of success increases our confidence in a given area

2. Watch and learn from successful examples

Witnessing others succeed increases our belief that we, too, have the ability to succeed in a similar way. For example, the more we watch our friends run marathons, the more we begin to believe that we could also accomplish such a feat someday.

3. Build a positive support network

Social persuasion is a powerful tool for combating self-doubt. Encouragement from people we trust helps convince us that we have what it takes to succeed. So, when you’re facing a challenge, surround yourself with people who believe in you—their belief will help build your own awareness in your skills and abilities.

4. Recognize and redirect your unconfident feelings

How we perceive the way we feel about a challenging situation greatly influences how we feel about the challenge itself. For example, when we feel “butterflies in the stomach” before a presentation or performance, do we interpret the feeling as excitement or nervousness? This interpretation has a profound effect on how confident we feel in performing.

With these strategies to enhance self-belief, we can increase our power to confidently achieve our goals and overcome our challenges.”

Follow Melissa’s blog at: https://fourwellness.co/about

Book Recommendation: Tiny Habits

I’ve already read a couple of books on habits. I’m intrigued by how we create and maintain habits and how habits bring about positive change. In my reading, I recently came across a new book written by Dr. BJ Fogg – Tiny Habits.

I’m not through reading it yet, but I am already picking up great ideas that I can apply at work and in my personal life. Dr. Fogg lays out a systematic way to create habits – tiny habits – that have the power to change our lives.

As he writes “there are only 3 things we can do that will create lasting change: Have an epiphany, change our environment, or change our habits in tiny ways.”

He goes on: “One tiny action, one small bite, might feel insignificant at first, but it allows you to gain momentum you need to ramp up to bigger challenges and faster progress.” Jeff Olson (The Slight Edge) calls this the compounding effect.

Like most people, I tend to rely on motivation to try to reach an outcome. Dr. Fogg teaches that this focus will not work. It is the focus on and doing the behaviors that move us towards our outcome – this is the real difference-maker.

If you are interested in learning more about habits and the power they can harness, read this book. If you are looking for ways to help your team improve their results, this book will help. If you are wanting to achieve an outcome personally, read this book.

“There is a painful gap between what people want and what they actually do…the problem is with the approach itself, not with you.”

Buy this book and learn that approach. It is practical. It is actionable.

What happens to YOU when you become a better coach by Jim Johnson

If you lead a team, you are coaching (or, at least, I trust that you are). I gave a presentation a couple of years ago on why coaching is so important for our team members. I also shared the following on what happens to the COACH when he/she becomes a better:

  1. Your reputation improves in your company.
  2. Your influence expands on your team and in your company.
  3. Your voice/opinion is respected on your team and with your colleagues.
  4. Your future will reveal more opportunities for you.

There is no down side to working hard at becoming a better coach.  Yes, your team members will become better, but YOU have benefits when you commit yourself to becoming a better coach.

Remember:  “You influence from a distance.  You impact up close.”  Dwight Robertson

Commit to impact.  You will create a better world around you.

when leaders become beter

Tuesday Tip: Personalize Your Note-Taking

Are you a note-taker? If not, I encourage you to develop the habit of taking notes. “You mean in meetings?” That’s one place. But there’s more times to take notes:

  • Meetings
  • Reading a book
  • Preparation for a meeting
  • Sermon
  • Video content you’re listening to
  • Podcast you’re listening to
  • When an idea hits you and you don’t want to forget it
  • Lectures
  • Reading a blog
  • Reading a magazine

You get the idea. Where do you record your notes? That’s up to you. Carry a small notebook to capture ideas. Use a journal. Use your smart phone/tablet/laptop. Use talk-to-text to capture in-the-moment ideas. Just capture your thoughts.

But here’s the tip that makes the most difference for me. I personalize my note-taking.

When I read a book, I’m a highlighter. When I read, I have a highlighter and a pen with me. I highlight a passage I want to remember. I often write a note in the margin that helps me connect dots (from this thought to a future action).

And once I complete reading the book, I often go back and write in my journal what I learned from that book. So, how do I personalize the notes? I put them in first person even if the author did not write that thought in that way. Here’s an example:

James Clear is the author of Atomic Habits (I highly recommend reading this book and then following him in social media). In the chapter, “How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa)”, he writes about “new identities” in light of moving away from the person (habits and all) to the person we want to be.

He asks this question: Who is the type of person that could get the outcome you want? In my journal, this would be written: Who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want? Other examples:

I become my habits.

The most effective way to change my habits is to focus not on what I want to achieve, but on who I wish to become.

When I make a specific plan for when and where I will perform a new habit, I am more likely to follow through.

I do this because I want to internalize what I’m learning. Making it personal moves new information and ideas to my heart and to my mind and making the likelihood of me following through much more successful. I create a conversation, of sorts, between me and the author as though she/he is talking to me. I pay attention to the content more. I put more of what I am learning into action.

Next time you take notes – especially when you need to take action on those notes – personalize them. It’s one way you can coach yourself to become better.