Focus and Success

Successes only come through hard work and understanding what you want to achieve. This is no different whether we are talking about individuals, sports teams or businesses. There’s that well know phrase that gets trotted out every now and again – “will you recognise success when you get there” and there’s a great deal to be said to remembering it.

If we think about the sporting world then a player putting in a great performance as part of a team that ultimately loses a match has been successful on only one level. But if they are the team-player that you would hope they were then they won’t feel good about it at all. It’s down to the coach or manager to make sure individuals in that team don’t beat themselves up when they haven’t played to their potential and to support them when they have but those around them haven’t – a difficult balancing act, but that’s part of the job.

Success Needs Focus

Having a focus on what’s important is absolutely essential in any sport and in business too. And what is important are the contributing factors that will lead to success. It’s too easy to focus on that gold medal, trophy or turnover figure and ultimately a pointless exercise in doing so (other than in visioning what it would be like to get there). Your focus and your attention needs to be on what it will take to propel you to success.

So in this way you are looking at the input factors that will contribute to your success. In sports this will include things like the right training and mental preparation, strength and conditioning and building up through the right kinds of completion ahead of “the big one”. In business and work this is about ensuring you have the right experiences, knowledge and skills to excel at what you want to do. And this is at an individual and team level.

Maintaining Focus

It’s straightforward to determine what the input factors are at the start of a season or financial year and keep them front of mind for the first few weeks or months. But what often happens is these drift into the background as day-to-day activities and upcoming challenges and competitions appear to become more important. The top performers don’t let this happen. The top performers take time with their coaches and advisers to ensure what they need to stay focused on are still the right ones for them. The top performers stick to their regime because they know that if they don’t they won’t have a chance of achieving the successes they’ve visioned.

Top performers in all sports have people around them that help them maintain that focus on what they need to do to stay on that journey towards success. Many will be highly focussed on what they need to do almost to the extent that they shut out everything else in their lives. Maybe not all the time but certainly at the times that count. There are those outside the sporting world who do the same thing, locking out others unless they have a direct positive impact on their ability to achieve success.

Focus and Refocus

Perhaps all work and no play does make Jack a dull boy but it most certainly reduces long-term performance and increases the risk of burn-out and stress. The world of sport knows this. That’s why athletes have off-seasons to wind down, to give their bodies and their minds a break from the pressures of training and competition. It allows them to recuperate and work on their technique and skills, preparing them for the next season of competition. It allows them to refocus on what they need to do next to be even better than the previous season. The world of work doesn’t really recognise this. Maybe it should.

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© Paul Slater and Reflect & Lead, 2015.