I looked back over previous postings and had an epiphany. A central theme evolved centered on “focus”. Is our action goal-achieving or tension-relieving? Are we mission ready? Do we have clarity of the Next Step? Are you raising the bar?
It dawned on me that was something was missing. What wasn’t addressed head-on was the challenge of “action”. Focus guides direction, yet with limited action doesn’t provide the results we dream of. This is important in this chaotic atmosphere of swirling doubt and confusion that bears the question “what’s the next step?” Are we (meaning me) frozen into in-action? Am I not taking as many steps, risky steps today due to fear of what opportunities may not be out there due to COVID 19, economic constriction with countless businesses in survival mode not thrive mode? Are the massive unemployment figures stymying action even though you have clarity and focus on getting a new job?
So now what do you do to ensure action accompanies focus? Here are 5 strategies:
Short deadlines. What will you get done by 9:00? By 10:30? Creating your own deadline crystalizes focus. Running track was not one of my greatest joys when I was in school for a simple reason. I had no speed. My dad could run with the wind and jump like a gazelle. Someone pointed out how graceful I was on the basketball court which made me smile until my brother Wendell edited “they were saying you were slow.” Coach Kent, our track coach, didn’t attempt to make me a sprinter. He encouraged longer distances and tried to prepare me for races by chopping the distances into laps at first, then half-laps. Do you have a stopwatch mentality, not looking at the finish line but looking at small segments on the clock, to pick up speed and intensity in your actions?
Pick a reach action and do it first. There are two CEOs of significant companies on my prospecting list. They’ve been there for a few days with other actions higher on my action list. What I’ve found is that I’m beating on myself for not taking the step of introducing myself. I’ve hesitated as I have not written just the right LinkedIn connection request or found a way to craft an email that is error-free or help me stand out from all the other requests to do business with them that I’m sure they are getting. I’m magnifying the potential rejection by making up the story (check out tomorrow’s blog). When you launch the difficult rocket, just getting it off the pad is a form of payday. It releases you from having it nag the back of your mind throughout the day, robbing your energy. Hit the big reach by 9:00. Set it in motion then race to 5 easy steps to build up momentum.
Enlist friends. Ones you love enough that you will feel embarrassed if you don’t take steps. The word embarrassment is a new action builder for me. When I own the fact that I will go to great extremes to not embarrass myself, I’ve been able to turn potential red cheeks into inspired action. By telling a few people (sometimes massive numbers, like through these posts) of what action I will take, it prompts me to step into battle with writing, calling, learning, or sharpening a new skill. Tell someone what you will do and more importantly by when does more than put fuel in the tank. It helps you hit the accelerator.
Add a pain image. “If I don’t do this, man that will be the price I pay”. We will experience either the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. While pleasure can inspire, the avoidance of pain is a greater stimulator. It gets you off the couch, on the phone, taking risks. “If I don’t make this call, will I be able to pay my mortgage in 3 months?” is a great re-focuser of my attention and strengthens my elbow to reach for the phone.
Good decisions. Decide between what is urgent but not important. I found myself looking for new car insurance this morning as an ad popped up reminding me that my car and property insurance was up for renewal in the next 30 days. I quickly started filling in information to compare prices with my current provider until the question popped up “how urgent, how important?”. I jumped off and immediately began writing this post. I can investigate after I take 5 steps leading me to the goals I have of building my business. Both are important. One was urgent.
The Navy Seals are masters of forward-thinking focus, keeping their minds on the mission objective. Their plans are broken into segments, each step leading to success. They enlist the help and support of each member of the team, doing whatever is necessary to not let their brothers and sisters in arms down. Decisions are strategically made to ensure each step leads to success.
More than anything, they are brought into battle when action is required. Be a Seal. Leap into action.