What’s the #1 challenge for small business owners? Time? Not getting enough done? Too many balls in the air? How do you focus on one thing?
I agree these have been the top of the problems that have kept me up at night in my decades of entrepreneurship. Oh – and not enough money – right?
When we search for anything related to time management, you can find all sorts of tips and tricks to organize and manage your time. Much of it comes down to focus. The anti-shiny object method.
My Daily Focus
I start each day on the beach 150 steps from our home on the north shore of Kauai. After being mindful of my arrival, I write my journal. Meaning I look around for conditions, people and most importantly, where I want to sit.
Today it is Windy! On days like this, I describe the ocean as messy. But one of the surf apps wrote, “Surf is expected to be rather jumbled/sloppy for most spots with the swell mixed and onshore NE Trades.”
Messy or jumbled/sloppy. Hmm, much like my brain most mornings!
It’s not cold, but I am bundled up against the wind. Reports say the surf is 7-9′ and tomorrow will be up to 15′-20′. That’s not high for our north shore winter surf but with the ocean so “‘messy” and noisy, it demands my attention as the sunrise approaches the horizon.
There is a moment between wave sets when a quiet pool of water rests before the last crashing wave withdraws back into the sea. It’s a moment when the ocean catches its breath. If you watch patiently, you will see a turtle pop its head up for a breath of air. It’s nearly impossible to take a picture as that breath is so quick, it’s like trying to catch a photo of lightning. The turtle’s location is random and it takes tremendous luck or incredibly fast reaction time to locate him and snap the picture.
The submerged turtle is only 30 feet from me and I often miss him. (If I miss him, how do I know he was there? I will see him a bit later and if he comes up once, he will come up often.)
So how come when I am writing my journal, something can catch my eye miles out on the horizon without me looking?
I have seen the spout and tail of a whale, a stand-up paddler, the mast of a small fishing boat or cabin of the coast guard ship that is so far out that my camera can barely pick them up. But there is enough break in the horizon that they catch my eye, even when I am not looking for something.
I am sure there is some logical scientific reason for this. The more you learn about me, you will quickly discover that I am not going out to do a great deal of scientific research. And this question is such that I don’t even know how to ask Alexa, Cortana or Google! Maybe we can agree that there is such a phenomenon.
Does this say something about our ability to focus far exceeds that of a camera or telescope?
When I look out on the water’s horizon, it is a long uninterrupted line. Anything, no matter how distant breaks that line.
Coming Into Focus
The view of the distant horizon reminds me of the saying, “Can’t see the forest for the trees” as used concerning business. We get so immersed in all the balls we are juggling every day in our business, we cannot begin to look at the big picture. We tend to be reactive in solving day to day crises and completing daily checklists. To turn this switch to becoming proactive and strengthen our planning and decision making, you need to go out to the broader view of the whole forest, i.e., your business and it’s health and plan for growth.
I’d like to think that my view of the ocean horizon is just the opposite. As a planner, I tend to continually take in the whole picture, see all of its components at once. In my daily morning view of the ocean, I see the cloud formation (is it going to rain?), the size of the waves (will surfers go out today?), the surf break (is my sitting space in danger of being submerged?) and is the tide coming in or going out (are there going to be many shells?)
All of this happens in a blink of an eye.
When I notice a line break on the horizon, my focus zooms into that singular item like a high-speed distance camera lens. It captures all of my attention while I still have the morning’s big picture in my memory bank.
Try applying this experience to your business.
- Start the day by taking in the big picture of your business, your overriding goal or vision. When you have a clear goal, this will become comfortable as you practice it each day.
- Narrow your focus to the one single task that will move your business forward.
- Do this task today as in NOW with all of your drive and focus.
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From budding entrepreneur to business coach to semiretired on Kauai, follow along Coach Marylee's journey to find the right balance of business and life.
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