The Discipline of Focus
Discipline should apply to all things. As Jeff Schwisow, a recent guest on The Mojo Radio Show said, “business is good at starting projects, they are not so good at finishing them.” Why are so many entrepreneurs distracted by bright shiny objects - SQUIRREL - without having the discipline to stay the course? It seems there is a growing trend amongst small- and medium-sized enterprises to want to start new entities or brands when they have not done the job on their last business. Their company is not a market leader, they may have work to do on their culture, their marketing model is unsure, and they lack the structure and process standards to be at their best. Yet…SQUIRREL. The leader gets bored and is compelled to start another business. Strong, resilient companies are built over time - long periods of time. They stay the course; they are disciplined. They can see the long-term dream, and they maintain their focus to deliver. With all this distraction, the people who suffer the most are the staff. People need leadership, and quite often the distraction takes the leader away from their core responsibility of leading the business and the team. Before you start chasing bright shiny objects, be sure your core business is healthy, your people have the necessary leadership and direction, your brand is strong, and your culture is embedded. There are loads of OK businesses out there, and if you are fine with being OK - SQUIRREL - then collect more companies to run. However, if your dream is to have an outstanding company leading an outstanding team for an outstanding brand, then be disciplined, be great, and stay the course.
For the last ten years, I’ve written stories for this blog, The Espresso, and one of the indirect benefits is that I've learned to think like a journalist. I approach life with a sense of curiosity, and I am always on the lookout for a story that I can share that will make a difference in someone else’s world. Today’s edition comes to you from Waikiki in Hawaii where I’m scheduled to give a series of keynotes. On my trip, I've heard some fascinating tales and reflected on important lessons. For example, I met an Uber driver by night and dive instructor by day who works six days a week to save money for a diving trip to New Caledonia next month. I also learned from a high performing business leader about how Hawaiians approach relationships. For them, relationships are built over decades due to their history and generational upbringing, and trust is built over many, many years. I observed that visitors walk around this paradise with their face in their screen, whereas locals walk around with their face ready to greet a friend or visitor. Why do people travel around the globe to these beautiful beaches, pools, and restaurants, only to stare into their phone? From time to time, we must stop, reflect and think about the day gone by. I sat in the reception of the hotel, with my coffee and thought hard about the last 24 hours - who I met, the lessons I learned, the stories I heard, and how I can use those lessons to be of service to others. Mahalo.
Do The Work
Ross, the artificial intelligence lawyer, won a case in the courts. Wearables are disrupting the health sector. Self-driving cars are improving the way we travel. Voice-activated devices are transforming the operations of the home. Implants are changing banking, payment and credit cards. These are just a few examples of business changes to come that I shared at a recent conference. They are intended to be thought starters. I received a suggestion to take them as a case study and drill into what it means for businesses and what they should do. Here’s my opinion - do the damn work. Do not wait for me or someone else to lay it all out for you and tell you what you should do. Get curious, get hungry and inquisitive and go to work. I hear it often, "can you use me as a case study, dig in and tell me what I should do?" No, if you get a sense of an opportunity or a threat to your industry, then sit, think, dig, challenge and most of all ponder what it means and what you need to do to create a win. What do you know, and what do you not understand yet? What will this mean in 5 years time? The more you know, the better you get at it. When you outsource it to someone else, you never get better yourself. You do not learn to walk until someone lets go of your hand.
Take A Walk On The Ideas Side
Great philosophers have done it. Modern-day creatives like Steve Jobs have done it. Many thought leaders in every area of business and endeavour do it every day. They go for a walk to think and create. Walking provides stimulation for the mind, gets the blood flowing, and activates the brain. The sedentary lifestyle that our work environments promote is one of our most significant health challenges. It is sad that when I searched for a photo for this post, so many images were of people walking and looking down at their phone. So what can be done? Set a task today and walk on it - around the streets, past the shops, around the block, to the park and back. Set one question to answer, and get after it. Go without your phone (oh, the horror!) and take a journal and pencil instead. When I asked Cal Newport, author of the best-selling book Deep Work, about his thinking process, his number one tip was “set a task and walk on it." Mark Twain said, "whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect." When everyone else is walking with their face in their phone, do you really want to be in the majority? I didn't think so.