Watch Out For The Squirrel!


As you will be aware, the work I do with clients revolves around 4 main disciplines in business – Clarity, Focus, Discipline and Engagement. Last month I explained why Clarity is important, so this month I will look at the subject of Focus in more detail.  I will talk about why you might not be as focused as you thought and how you can change that, including identifying any “Squirrels” (all will be revealed in due course!).

I found this old article in my files Why Focus Is the Number-One Element of Business Success. The article made an impact on me for two totally different reasons!

Focus on the Squirrel

The first is that he refers to the film, Up, and how Dig (the dog) is constantly distracted and shouts “Squirrel”. This a recurring joke in the film. The reason it made an impact on me is with my Northern Ireland accent,  Apparently,I seem to have a problem saying the word Squirrel, or so all my family tell me. Whenever that word is mentioned, especially by me, I am ripe for ridicule. I’m made to say that word purely for their entertainment!

The far more important impact of the article is the author’s use of an upside-down triangle. It’s split into horizontal thirds, to prioritise his tasks. He uses it as follows:

  • In the top, or biggest third, are the things I need to spend most of my time on.
  • Inside the middle are things I should spend some of my time on.
  • In the bottom are the things I should spend the least of my time on.

The triangle forces him to decide what is important and where he should spend his time. I like that idea and it’s a similar concept to what I talk about in my free eBook.

What tasks are you doing that aren’t part of your focus?

Focus On Being Focused!

When I talk about the 4 disciplines I always refer back to Karen Martin, a leading US business improvement consultant and author of The Outstanding Organisation. I was listening to Karen when she was asked which of the 4 disciplines is the top one. Her answer was that if pushed she would go for Focus, In fact, she said that most businesses, especially SMEs, should “focus on being focused”!!

Why is focus so important? Because we all find it so easy to be distracted! I suffer from it at times – thinking I can multitask or just clear up a few things very quickly. A few hours later I find that those few “Squirrels” have ruined my day!

So have a think about what your “Squirrel” might be. What measures you need to put in place to not be distracted by it. My 4 Disciplines Check might help too.

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