The Great Rewards of Staying Focused by Brian Hazelgren
“You will never reach your destination, if you stop and throw rocks at every dog that barks.” Winston Churchill coined this phrase over 7 decades ago, and it still rings true as wise words. Oh, that we could stay focused on a task to see it to completion, is often the thought of many of us – especially when distractions arise in our path.
A baseball pitcher has a single focus: throw the pitch to the catchers mitt – no matter where it is behind the plate. A field goal kicker has but one singular goal: to kick the football through the goal posts. An airplane pilot must stay intently focused on setting the course, taking off, keeping the flight on a safe and direct path, and landing safely back on to the ground.
There are many examples that I could cite of how to stay focused, but you get the idea. The purpose of staying focused on something is to start, implement, and finish with success – no matter what the task is. But all too often distractions creep in, attention gets diverted, and the focus is lost – maybe only temporarily, sometimes to late to regain proper focus, and yet for others the focus can be lost forever.
In my book Everlasting Wisdom, I wrote about 12 ancient principles that can change your life for the positive – forever. One of those 12 principles is about Staying Focused. In fact, it is principle #5 in the book, and it discusses how King Solomon not only built a massive empire, but how he also decided to build a temple for the Lord, and a royal palace for himself. The construction of a temple with all of its extravagance was indeed a major undertaking. Solomon kept his focus on how he might please God with his actions. The Children of Israel had been worshipping their God in a portable temple as they moved through the wilderness. Solomon believed that their God deserved to be worshipped in a solid, ornate, and holy structure.
Solomon’s vision was extravagant and would require elements from other parts of the world to be brought in. Although he did not have these elements close by, his focus was not deterred by these obstacles. Solomon realized that he needed to rely on others to help him accomplish this lofty goal of constructing an edifice worthy of an offering—even a place worthy of accepting a visit from God.
When You Take Your Eyes Off The Goal…
Have you ever seen the poster that shows a setting sun on the horizon, and placed in front of the setting sun are four large boulders in the ocean. The caption of the poster is “When you take your eyes off the goal, all you see are the obstacles.” The primary point of the poster is point out that the obstacles of deep, cold waters; and large objects standing in the way, are usually what we humans focus on first, rather than seeing past those obstacles and focusing on the beauty of the setting sun.
The primary mission of businesses today is to generate as much revenue as possible while controlling costs, which leads to more equity or profit. Families must remain focused on loving, nurturing, and helping each other. There are a myriad of obstacles introduced on a daily basis that threaten the primary vision of any institution or family, large or small. The distractions can and do become overwhelming and drain the energy, sometimes the life out of the entity and its members.
The Key Is To Remain Focused…
Too many distractions creep in the empires of today, and rob us of achieving our potential. The poor economy…slow or no sales…competition launching a new product…employee relations and human resource challenges…internal strife with managers…and a thousand other things. The key is to remain focused on who you are and what you do.
A great example of staying focused amid, a thousand obstacles surrounding a glorious and noble cause, is to study the founding of the United States of America. The U.S. has been blessed with many individuals who stayed focused to accomplish the mission they set out achieve. This country was founded on the principles that Almighty God is the Supreme Being that may be worshipped whenever, and however one chooses.
Solomon, and the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, in their wisdom, kept their focus, and chose to complete their mission. They focused on a primary mission that could not escape their ever–waking thoughts and actions. Nothing stood in the way of their mission and they vigorously planned and implemented strategies to accomplish their goals. They sacrificed their fortunes, their fame, their property, and even their lives to stay focused on their primary mission: to create a sovereign nation free from the oppressions of a tyrannical leader.
Likewise, Solomon recognized “who is able to build a house for Him (God), for the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain him.” Solomon’s temple, his primary focus and mission, made other buildings look rather gaunt and dull in comparison…The walls were even lined with gold! This undertaking was considered very industrious and Solomon had to build a work force large enough to match the ambitious goal of building a temple that would rival any structure on earth in beauty and magnitude. Solomon’s task force required twenty years to complete the mission, and staying focused on accomplishing this mission was the highest priority for him and his staff.
7 Simple Principles To Follow…
I will be the first to admit that that sometimes it can be difficult to stay focused on what matters most. However when you are truly committed to something, distractions can be managed and even ignored – to bring about the completion of your task. Consider the following seven principles in staying focused. They may not all work for you, but I have found that when you follow these principles, you can stay focused, and you are able to direct your positive energies to the task at hand.
- Establish well-defined goals – your goals are the foundation of your plan and your plan is the roadmap to lead you to your destiny. Setting goals in not a new concept, but it is a wise principle to use and a habit that you should establish. Remember a goal not written is only a wish.
- Create and stick to a priority list – sometimes a simple list of priorities can keep you focused on what needs to be accomplished – and when. I like to have a priority list to refer to when distractions enter the picture…it keeps me…focused.
- Track and Report your progress – Remember this: what gets reported gets done. Whether you are reporting to your self or to the board, when you are able to track your progress and show how you reach certain milestones, you can keep on the straight path without deviations.
- Break tasks into smaller pieces – a big project can look so overwhelming at times. I have found that when you take the big picture and break it down to smaller elements, individual pieces don’t seem as daunting, and each time you complete one of the smaller tasks it is invigorating and empowering.
- Reward yourself – you need to give yourself a pat on the back once in a while and reward yourself for your discipline. That can be as simple as blocking out time for you to read a book; see a movie; go out to dinner; go on a vacation; or watch your favorite sitcom.
- Visualize the end result – Constantly seeing the end result in your mind is a great motivator. Visualize what you want to accomplish. If the end result is truly important to you, it can serve as a powerful reminder that your sacrifices along the way will be worth it.
- Ask for help – Unless you have a big red and yellow “S” stamped on the chest of your blue spandex uniform, I would suggest that you reach out to others once in a while and ask for help. The cool thing about asking for help is that it shows a little humanness, and people really do like to help others. They don’t mind helping you because they can share a little expertise and provide a little compassion to others…we humans, for the most part, are just wired that way.
I hope this helps you find your focus. Every time I re-read this small section of Everlasting Wisdom, it helps me to regain some of the focus that may have been lost to too many distractions. Please visit my website (www.brianhazelgren.com), or my Blog (https://brianhazelgren.wordpress.com) if you would like to comment on this article.
Stay true to what matter most to you, and stay focused!