Focus. It’s such a simple word. Like a lot of simple words in the English language, it is rich with meaning. We’ve all seen the power of “focus” by using a magnifying glass to focus the sun’s rays into a concentrated point hot enough to start a fire. Keeping that simple metaphor in mind, I’d like to use FOCUS as an acronym to give you the power to “light a fire” under your career and lead you to greater success than ever. Like all plays on words, this one takes a little explaining. Let’s get started.
F: Figure out what to focus on. This is the critical first decision. Choose incorrectly and you could waste a lot of time. You could get an outcome that is very different from what you might have hoped to accomplish too. Finally, setting priorities is tough because there are so many things that you need to get done and so little time to do them. Think hard about this one, since it will drive everything else. Choose a worthy goal; make sure you will be happy if you accomplish that goal.
O: Obsess about it. Obsess is kind of a scary word, but that is what truly successful people do. They have such an intense focus on what they hope to achieve that it becomes like an obsession. Dissect your plans into smaller pieces since you can’t solve everything at once. When you have the plans and your goals broken down into manageable pieces, you are ready for the next step.
C: Choose carefully what to do—first, second, third, etc. There is that old prioritization challenge again, but there is no avoiding it. Somehow, you must decide the order in which to tackle the things you want to accomplish. Consider carefully if you have defined your objectives—“What is success?”—and if you are successful, whether accomplishing those objectives will be worth the sacrifices you make, and will lead you to success as you defined it.
U: Understand things clearly before doing anything. Solving any problem consists of only three steps: understand, define and solve. Start with a clear understanding of what you are trying to do. From there, you have a good chance of success. Without that start, you have little chance of success.
S: Stick with it and succeed. Nothing gets done until somebody “does something.” But nothing really good or important gets done unless the person doing it persists. It takes relentless determination to achieve great things—but to ensure success, they must be the right things—which brings us back to “choosing the right things to do,” and by “understanding clearly" what you are trying to accomplish.
I could write a lot more words, but these do a pretty good job of outlining the fundamentals. Figure out what to focus on and set your priorities accordingly. Obsess on it to get into all the dirty little details that will make a big difference. Choose carefully what you want to get done, making sure it will result in success as you defined it. Understand everything you can about what you are undertaking and use that knowledge to define what to do, and in what order. And finally, Stick with it and succeed, practicing the relentless determination and resourcefulness needed to reach your goals.
Follow these five simple rules, and you will also avoid most of the problems introduced by unnecessary complexity. You will exclude useless distractions, you will stay “on track” and you will “light a fire”—of inspiration—in others by your clarity of focus.
All you need to remember is what each letter in F-O-C-U-S stands for. If you have a bad memory, just write them on the back of the fingers of one hand, and raise your hand to remind you. Sounds silly, but it works!