from the Blog

Focus for Success


There are so many distractions – the balance of work and family, a to-do list that is miles long, and social media – just off the top of my head. On our ‘theNextStep’ journey we continue to look at the various aspects that lead a person or company to be successful. A consistent item for discussion with my team, my peers, and my coaching clients, is Focus.

Even with well established goals and an action plan it is easy to get distracted. Staying on track for success requires attention and disciplined focus.


Chris Ducker shares the following acronym for Focus . . .






“Focus is the new IQ in the knowledge economy. Individuals who cultivate their ability to concentrate without distraction will thrive.”  Cal Newport

John Lee Dumas created the Freedom Journal – with a Focus on accomplishing your #1 goal in 100 days. The entire structure of the Freedom Journal is premised on 10 day sprints, quarterly reviews, daily tasks, and nightly recaps. The Freedom Journal has been wildly successful.

In his book, The One Thing, Gary Keller says,

“The truth about success is that our ability to achieve extraordinary results in the future lies in stringing together powerful moments, one after another.”

I found this to be so powerful . . .

“Success is a series of focused moments, or steps – dare I say ‘next steps’ – executed in a purposeful and disciplined manner.”


Benefits of Focus

  • Focus can create Action. A recent Harvard Business Review article stated that ‘an organizations biggest strategic challenge isn’t strategic thinking – it’s strategic Acting.’ If you or your team is having a hard time getting traction on an issue that you face, ask yourself – Are we focusing the necessary level of attention to solve this issue?
  • Focus can create Confidence.  Confidence is not a requirement before taking action, but rather is the result of ‘taking’ action. Action creates confidence for you and your team.
  • Focus can create a New Normal. Implementing new processes, or change, can be very disrupting. If you are trying to change behaviors, intense, intentional focus will make the desired changes more successful. It takes anywhere from 21-56 days to change or create new behaviors. A method of constant reminders, encouragement, and accountability can make these changes part of your new routine. Can you imagine a look back 12 months from now with an accomplishment of 3-5 New Normals.

“You know what the secret to life is? One thing. Just one thing. Once you figure it out, you stick to that . . . everything else don’t mean shit.” Curly – City Slickers, the movie.

Six Tips to help you with Focus

  • One Calendar – One Life: I am reminded of my teenage years and the calendar hanging on the side of the refrigerator. My mom was a genius – still is. Three active teenagers – work, school, extracurricular – sharing a car. Everything was put on the calendar – today it would be digital. In my course on taking control of your digital life I talk about simplification of our 24/7/365 lives. Combining your personal commitments, family commitments, and business commitments on one calendar is a must. One calendar – one life is all about simplification and focus.
  • Calendars & Time Blocking: If it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done – personal or business, doesn’t matter. Calendars are not just for outside meetings and appointments. Time blocking on your calendar can be a powerful focusing tool. To maximize your effectiveness and time management, schedule (time block) interim tasks/actions that will move you forward in accomplishing your long term and short term goals. Resist the urge to override these scheduled items in the guise of flexibility, especially date night.
  • Prioritization: You have permission to say No. Wow, this is hard. At work we want to be seen as a go-getter. There are so many worthwhile opportunities to serve in an extracurricular capacity – school and civic organizations, boards and commissions. We want to be that parent – you know, the good one – that does everything. We have been conditioned that we must say Yes to all opportunities to succeed. How many of us have fallen into this trap? We want to do it all. It is not possible to be everything to everyone at the same time. Focus on your priorities and say yes when the time is right.
  • Focus on your Free Time and set some boundaries for technology: It is so hard to disconnect – technology has us wired. Many companies provide cell phones and tablets and explicitly say ‘this is so you can be available all of the time’. This is a real weakness of mine – I like being plugged in. One of my boundaries – I still follow company emails and texts for awareness and emergencies, but try to limit my responses to team members and clients after reasonable hours and on weekends.
  • Gratitude: Focus on the positive – be grateful for each day and each experience. Place great value on the learning opportunities of negative experiences. The best start – end the day with a gratitude list.
  • Tasks / Issues: Take a look at your ‘to do’ list. How do you approach accomplishing 20-30, often unrelated, items? Do you remember what they say about eating an elephant – one bite at a time. Your ‘to-do’ or issues lists can be attacked in much the same manner – one bite at a time – with focus. Gino Wickman, in “Traction” suggests the following approach: Identify, Discuss, Solve. Work on one issue at a time – evaluate and determine the next best action to move it forward. It takes a great deal of discipline to stay on task, but this level of focus is worth it.

Eating an Elephant?  One Bite at a Time

This week . . . .

There are so many distractions and maintaining focus can be difficult. Be strong – be steadfast. Systematically grow yourself and your business with focus and discipline.

  • Focus on simplicity and taking strategic action on the ‘next best thing’ each day that moves you closer to accomplishing your personal and professional goals.
  • Don’t be afraid to say No – unless it fits your priorities and purpose.
    If No is difficult – you might say later, when it is a better fit with my schedule.
  • Consider some boundaries with technology.



. . . . go have an Awesome Week!

Tom Trabue