Focus. A Fresh Set of Eyes

October 13, 2019 5:32 pm

A fresh set of eyes

I recently had an eye test completed and subsequently followed through on the specialist’s recommendation to purchase glasses. Little had I realised that over time, I had slowly become accustomed to blurred vision. Now, with a fresh set of “eyes,” things that were unclear and hazy have become sharp and distinct.

At different times in our personal worlds, our careers and business endeavours, the focus that was once crystal clear becomes a little muddied. We find ourselves so deep in the trenches that all we see are the trench walls, losing sight of what is beyond. We find ourselves going through passionless motions that once brought us life.

If you find yourself doing that daily trench trudge make a move to jump up on top. Some things that might be helpful are:

  • A change of routine;
  • Meet with some inspirational friends or colleagues;
  • Incorporating something fun into your life;
  • Pursuing something that you are curious about;
  • Taking a risk in something you’ve been delaying;
  • Hiring a coach or mentor. (I have just hired someone to coach me again from the US and 3 weeks in I can tell you it’s well worth the investment);
  • Schedule think time into your weekly schedule;
  • Get some fresh input which might include further training or reading.

A fresh set of “eyes” helps raise us from the footslog of the trench to the freedom of the mountain. And often, it is just the simple things that help gain that shift.

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Operations and Strategy: The Two Hats Of Management

May 25, 2018 7:42 am

From Operations To Strategy

I have just completed speaking at a two-day workshop this week with a very astute group of national managers. From delivering approximately 7 hours of content, it gave me a fresh appreciation of just how much we as managers and leaders have to deal with at an operational level on a daily basis. Below is some of the content from one of the sessions that relate to the importance of taking time to lift our eyes to think ‘future’; to disengage our brains from the operational tasks at hand and turn our focus to strategy.

Strategy Operations

The Switch Of Hats

Taking the daily operational hat off to focus on the future can be a challenge for the most adept business owner or manager. The day to day running of our businesses and organisations often demand our all, leaving little energy and focus for anything else.

We tend to get caught up at ground level, fighting fires, dealing with staff issues and meeting budgetary shortfalls. Our minds are on making today happen, often neglecting the future planning and strategic progress that is so essential for success. When this is our ‘normal’, the ideal future gets delayed.

The switch of hats, from operations to strategy needs to be a planned activity as more often than not, does not occur on its own. A study in recent years concerning the disciplines of Australia’s leading CEO’s revealed that of the top three practices, the scheduling of time out for weekly review and reflection along with planning the future were paramount to their success. A further study by the Centre for Management and Organizational Effectiveness (CMOE) that surveyed a wide range of influential US executives indicated that on average 25 minutes per day were spent on strategising.

We would do well to practice the same. Being able to jump off at regular intervals the business or organisational boat we are sailing on; to sit on the sand and stare out at the horizon – thinking, planning, reflecting, will help us when jumping back onto the boat in operational mode. Timeout spent in this manner will enable us to take the ship more directly to its destination.

These are some areas to centre on when practising this:
• Review of progress and results in recent days and weeks – the good, the bad, the ugly
• Key issues requiring immediate attention
• Activities that are irrelevant to the current journey and need to be stopped
• What were the successes and how can we further build on them?
• What is our destination?
• Are we on track as far as the milestones previously established?

Taking time out to Review, Reflect and Plan is essential for managers and owners if they are to effectively lead and manage a growing organisation.

Review
Is about looking back at the past week, month, year or years to see what has ACTUALLY happened in terms of numbers, key indicators, growth or decline, staff, inefficiencies, successes etc.
Reflect
What is the review process and actual data communicating? Taking time to reflect on the meaning of this is essential for the next stage.
Plan
Based on what HAS taken place and in light of your key goals, how do we continue progressing from here to there? From actual to ideal. What do we need to do, change and enact in order to drive this ship forward? Planning is also about scheduling the key activities identified from the above process into your calendar. It assists in taking it from your mind to the page, to the actual operational (action) stage.

If you are similar to me, spending too much time at the coal face of operations can make one a little weary over time. Taking time out in order to think future; while advantageous for our organisations, it can also return significant benefits to our personal lives and can be its own source of inspiration and freshness.

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Focused Momentum

April 16, 2018 6:09 pm

Focused Momentum

Focused Momentum

Hosing all the dirt and leaves off my back courtyard and down the side path this past weekend, I observed a few things.

Firstly, that in different sections of the courtyard I was pushing the dirty water uphill as the paving foundation had not been correctly prepared. 

Secondly, that when I was intentional with the focus of the water jet, everything moved forward. When I tried to take shortcuts or lost my focus the dirty water receded.

Thirdly, there was a point that became easier. It was the apex of the path. Once the mass reached that part it all started to flow downhill.

My lessons were these.
  1. Starting a process is just the beginning. Whether it is personal or organisational change, we have to continue to push things through in a forward and focused manner in order to reach the tipping point – the apex of the path. This is where, because of the prior focused work, things become easier and gain their own momentum.
  2. When pursuing change, it’s important to maintain forward focused pressure. As soon as we lose this, the old habits and the previous ways of doing things simply have a gravity about them that prevents forward flow.
  3. Focus and consistency is everything.
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It’s Monday!!! How to achieve more this week.

July 24, 2017 3:48 am

Arriving at work on Monday can find us immediately immersed in a mountain load of to – do’s, meetings and demands that we are not quite prepared for and for many, Friday appears and we think “I feel like I’ve achieved nothing all week.”

If you find yourself facing a lot on your plate I would suggest that you take 10-15 minutes today, to list 3 – 7 major things that you would like to achieve this week and then block time into your diary for their accomplishment.

Focused managed task completion is much more effective than bouncing from item to item in a reactive style with your to-do list more likely to become the have-done list by weeks end.

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100 Percent from 10 Percent

October 4, 2016 11:23 pm

Living in Melbourne’s West has been an incredible experience this past weekend with the Western Bulldogs winning their first grand final in 62 years. The passion, the belief, the palpable emotions and excitement of fans has been infectious. Not only for a team to win after such a long drought but to win from behind is a credit to their belief and hard work.

When captain Bob Murphy was sidelined for the year with a knee injury in round 3, the senior coach Luke Beveridge said the club had not panicked and stated “The probability of that time we didn’t make it here (to the Grand Final) is probably really high, probably 90 percent – even higher,” he said. “So there’s a 10 percent possibility that we get there. We’re 100 percent on the possibility. And I suppose that’s what the boys did. We attacked the possibility. So if we were 100 percent of 10 percent, we ended up being 100 percent of everything. That’s the thing – you’ve got to stay glass half full…” *

Attacking the possibility.
Whatever the arena, we all suffer injuries and can often feel like we start from behind. They might include the death of a child or marriage, significant downturns in business, career ending events, mental or physical health challenges, financial issues, the sense of talent lack and so forth. The comment from Beveridge relates to most of us at one point or another on lifes journey. To do our absolute best with what we feel we have (or have left) – whether that be 10%, 50% or 80%; to stay the course with the view of the glass half full; to at times absorb the pain of discipline and hard work rather than the pain of defeat – all keys to pushing forward to victory.

If you feel that you are starting from behind, that you’ve suffered setbacks of one kind or another, you’re in good company. Build on what you have and attack it with 100 percent focus. You never know… you just might, like the Doggies, end up passing all the others who seemed closer to 100%.

* Quoted from the Sun Herald Oct 2, 2016

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Focus

July 28, 2015 2:29 am

Specific focus creates results. Little or no focus sends us spinning in circles – lots of dust no traction.

From time to time it seems that even the best lose their way. One of the things I have found useful when my world starts to spin and the previous clarity and momentum is replaced by a hazy sideways lilt, I go back to basics.

  • xx phone calls per day
  • one blog per week
  • one newsletter per month
  • two new appointments per week
  • reading one chapter per day of xx

You get the drift.

Create your own list of fundamentals that you can return to when your world starts to spin. The dust will settle and you’ll be back on the straight focused path again within no time.

 

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Monday Morning Fog

February 1, 2015 1:45 am

Arriving at your desk on Monday morning you check your calendar for the weeks agenda. You look at the accruing paperwork spread across your desk and decide very quickly its coffee time. A few ‘quick chats’ to work colleagues (who are very happy to chat by the way), a wander through the days paper, you then attempt to settle in at your desk. Emails to respond to, a back up of phone messages to return, the customer complaint you procrastinated on last week and so it goes. A foggy Monday morning. Little clarity, a slow start, pessimistic gloominess.

The owner and managers of the business next door, arrived fifteen minutes earlier. Each had a brief weekend catch up as they got coffee and headed straight to their desks. All that was waiting for them was the first action item on their days agenda – the first of many purely focused on making this months performance goals. For this company it is mandatory that everyone spend the last couple of hours on Friday planning the week ahead, returning all calls and emails and clearing their desks. For them, Monday morning is all about activity that counts, optimistic clarity, jumping quickly onto last weeks momentum and starting the week fast.

Welcome to Monday. Foggy or clear skies? The forecast was written on Friday afternoon.

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Thoughts on Planning

December 15, 2014 12:51 am

At this time of year our thoughts tend to wander over the bridge into the following year. For some it is the hope of a better season to come, grateful that the current year is coming to an end. For others it is to capitalise on an already excellent year and grow to a whole new level whether in business, personally, financially and so on.

Here are two focal areas to help  you as you enter the New Year.

  • Get present with the past. Jot down the positive outcomes for the year past and the challenges and disappointments you experienced.
  • Create your future.
    • What would you like the coming year to contain?
    • What are the areas of growth you would like to see?
    • What relational, familial areas do you need to work on?
    • What are the personal growth and fun zones you would like to enter and develop? eg. learning to dance, cook, ski, fitness levels
    • What would you like your bank balance and debt levels to be by years end?
    • Where can you take your business or career in the next twelve months? What are the areas you need to work on to ensure you are growing and moving toward the next summit?

I have been aware over the past few months that we are really growing or declining. Strengthening or weakening. After all, plateaus of safety and comfort eventually erode if left to their own devices.

Best,
Ray

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Ascertaining Future Direction

August 28, 2014 3:35 am

Speaking with a hotel waitress recently she mentioned that between her and her husband they were running three businesses, she was also holding the position of a waitress and had two children. Another electrician I was speaking to said it this way – “some weeks I have a heart for what I do, other weeks I’m just not sure.” He was struggling to build his business.

Here are some keys for ascertaining the best way forward…

  • What really lights your fire? What do you love to do?
  • In what areas – skills and abilities do you excel at?
  • What have you been successful at in the past?
  • Who in the market place will need and pay for your services?
  • What do you need to stop doing?
  • What isn’t adding value to your life and to your clients?

If you get this simple alignment it will assist in driving you wholeheartedly into a future whereby you love what you do, provide exceptional value to others with the addition of getting paid well for that value

 

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Focus Forward

November 23, 2013 8:27 pm

My dance teacher reminded me yesterday to not beat myself up about the last mistake. “Don’t live in the last step, focus on the next one.” And as Tiger Woods is often quoted as saying, “I hit it and forget it. You can’t go back in time and replay a shot, so just forget about it and move on.”

The next step; next shot; next meeting; next sale; next presentation. Whatever your ‘next’ is, focus forward.

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