Learning. Everyday.

Focus is the key

Dec 12, 13 • HBR

I was just reading this article in HBR on focus and it’s importance for leaders and organizations.

This got me to go look for some research I saw a while back, touting that most really productive people have some traditional traits that seem boring. Was it a style choice that had Tim Cook always wearing a black turtle neck, or was he just focusing his mental energy somewhere beyond his daily outfit?

It is so simple to say- “just focus!”- and yet so difficult to achieve. As detailed in HBR, you have to focus both on yourself and on others. Focusing on yourself circles around self-awareness and self-control; how are my actions coming across? Am I putting in the hard work now for a larger reward later (as some say, do I have grit)? Focusing on others entails three types of empathy, which all lead to being able to build relationships:

  1. Cognitive empathy – do you understand their perspective?
  2. Emotional empathy - can you put yourself in their shoes?
  3. Empathic concern – do you know how you can help them?

As you can imagine, in HBR this was presented almost entirely within the context of business and strategy. I think it applies throughout life, dare I say to happiness as a whole. Focus brings you the ability to stay in the moment.¬†Focus brings you the ability to achieve a task and that productivity itself brings happiness. Of course I’m talking about a task that should be small and achievable, otherwise you can’t actually actively focus on it.

“Empirically, the way to do really big things seem to be to start with small things and grow them bigger.” – Paul Graham

 

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