February 21, 2018

Archives for April 2014

The double benefit of focus, and how to achieve it

Man thinkingSome lessons keep coming round, for me they do anyway…

Getting focused has a double benefit—probably more than double actually.

Dropping some tasks—disengaging from some projects or organisations—has the obvious benefit of freeing up some time.

But it’s much more than that…

Having fewer things to cover, and the opportunity to focus, makes us so much more efficient on the things we do decide to do.

It’s not so easy letting go though.


I’ve learned, time and again, that if I’m ambivalent about something, it means I should drop it. When I finally do, I often wish I had done so sooner.

Maybe that’s how having a real break and time off works: Once we’ve walked away from everything for a time, our choice is then what to pick up, rather than what to drop. That’s quite different emotionally.

What about you?

How do you convince yourself to let go of something that seemed important, or maybe still seems important?

They don’t know they’re doing it, and nor do we

Group talkingI imagine you’ve had this experience…

Someone keeps repeating a behaviour that causes problems for everyone else. “Why do they keep doing that?” we ask ourselves. “Why do they not see that there are going to be consequences? Why don’t they change?”

The answer of course is they don’t know they’re doing the thing, not consciously anyway. They’re not aware it’s a problem.

If they keep repeating something that actually isn’t working very well, chances are they haven’t realised. So they’re actually doing their best. And they might have been like that for a long, long time.

We might need to help them see the issue somehow. And that might be hard going.

But more than that…

What about us?

What are the things we do that cause problems we’re unaware of?

There are bound to be some.

How do we welcome—invite even—the feedback which would help us see?

Do you know enough to not know?

Woman reflectingHow much knowledge do you need to have before it feels OK to say you don’t know?

Seems like a paradox, doesn’t it?

If we know quite a bit about something, we probably have a good idea just how much we don’t know. And we have some authority.

If we don’t know that much, often it seems we need to state what we do know—to gain credibility, mostly.

So it can seem a wise thing when we don’t know.

That may mean we have quite a bit of knowledge.

…and are worth consulting.

Are you playing pinball?

Pinball GameIt’s a strategy for corporate or organisational survival…

“Getting the issue off my desk” (and onto someone else’s).

I think we all do this, one way or another—in our personal lives too. It’s one way of coping with the volume of communication we have to deal with. We process our “stack” and bat the issue onwards, or maybe sideways.

And it kind of works, at a sub-optimal level.

But the thing is…

Having an issue bouncing around, backwards and forwards in an organisation, like a ball in a pinball machine isn’t a very efficient way to make progress. In fact, it’s very slow.


Someone might have to “take ownership,” and that someone might be you. You might need to say “I’m going to run with this.”

Of course, it’s also worth asking…

Are you the bat or the ball?

Does change come before leadership?

Professional man and womanIn the dictionary it does, of course.

And perhaps in real life too.

Certainly the two things are closely tied up with each other.

Is the need for leadership prompted by external change, or should we initiate internal change before the external world forces it upon us?

Perhaps leadership comes before change, despite what it says in the dictionary.

What about you—do you initiate your own change or does change initiate you?

One thing at a time—how hard can that be?

Woman leader…em, quite hard.

That’s my experience anyway.

Doesn’t mean it isn’t the right principle though, just that it isn’t that easy to achieve, especially if our vision isn’t very clear.

I remember…

The amazing effect of putting some delays in the start-up sequence of a computer system so that all the processes weren’t competing with each other as they launched themselves. By serialising things properly, the start-up time went from the best part of an hour to just a few minutes.

Putting in delays speeded things up.

That seems all backward.

And it can be emotionally difficult to put some things off so that we can do other things properly now.

But that’s what we need to do because focus is a kind of letting go.


What could you do with scheduling out?

“Gut feel”—unerring guide or subjective interference?

Networking groupIn a world obsessed with “evidence,” what’s the place for what we call “gut feel”—that inner signal which seems to let us know whether something—or someone—is right or wrong?

Many of us have been brought up to present a rational argument, to marshall the facts, to make the case.

And yet…

That doesn’t always seem to lead to the right decision, especially when it comes to people.

Perhaps we need to factor in something less tangible. Maybe we need both good evidence and good feelings.

…if that’s always possible.

What about you?

What do you do about “gut feel” and “evidence”? How do you reconcile the two?

How do you tell if you’re making a difference?

High Street sceneQuite possibly, you can’t.

If you’re in a situation where you have a high degree of authority, you might well be able to associate cause and effect.

On the other hand…

If you know you’re one of many working towards the same end—working on the same issue in a similar kind of way—you probably can’t tell.

It may not be possible to discern which bit of the change you see is caused by you and which bit by other people.

So you just have to trust that you are having an impact, and keep going.


It might be good to let go of the need to see you are making a difference, even though that’s a rather fundamental human trait. The need probably isn’t helping you because it interrupts your flow. Better just to believe.

Can you tell if you’re making a difference? If so, how?

If other people lean on us…

Man thinking… our first thought might be to push back.

If someone treats us as a resource to be drawn upon; as someone they can “unload” with; as a person who will always have resilience for them, it can be a load to carry, of course, but it’s also a compliment.

It means they see us as strong.

So we might decide just to accept it. We can choose to channel their belief into our own strength—our own belief in ourselves.

What’s your response to this situation?


Who do you lean on? That’s worth thinking about too.

Leaning on yourself could be an answer.