At the turn of the last century steel magnate Andrew Carnegie was investigated for possible fraud by the US government in relation to his unfathomed wealth.
After an exhaustive search members of the Internal Revenue Service found nothing underhanded. Carnegie went on to explain that the source of his wealth was simply founded on his ability to remain completely focused for 5 minutes at a time, something that the interviewing bureaucrats themselves were unable to accomplish as noted by Carnegie.
Forward to the present, today’s magnates namely Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were recently each handed a blank sheet of paper on which they were asked to write the single most important factor for their business success. Without any hesitation they individually came to the same conclusion. The ability to focus!
The Poverty Of Time
In my initial work with leaders from all walks of life, we quickly arrive at a point of agreement where we see time as the ultimate asset.
I will often ask in these early stages, “tell me, where does your time go, why there, why not here?”
Unfortunately for most people time and the inability to deploy it correctly adds up to the concept of time poverty. There is so much to do, so many issues to attend to, ‘fires’ to put out. There is seemingly never enough time to focus on what really matters. And as time goes by, the more we feel dislocated from our inability to invest in it correctly.
What is it that depreciates the currency of time, taking us away from our true focal points? Why is it that so many people today arrive at the end of each year filled with emptiness and not much to show for their efforts?
The first part to our answer can be found in the following set of activities.
- ‘Surfing’ the screen (no matter what the device)
- Rescuing others (futile at best)
- Dropping the ball (not completing tasks that matter)
- Too many ideas (less is more, always)
- Multi – tasking (myth of modern society)
- Worrying (if you cannot control it, why waste energy?)
Consider these and the impact on your focus. What is the real cost to you?
Keep in mind, that in order to get into something better, we have to firstly remove ourselves from habits that serve little or no purpose.
The Focal Point
Being aware of and avoiding the main triggers that dissolve our focus through the fabric of time is not enough, for the key challenge remains: what is our focus, where should we be investing our time asset?
The best way to cut through to what really matters for you is to consider the following triplicate.
- What are you excellent at? What is the one thing you know you can do well?
- What gives you the greatest sense of purpose?…………and finally
- What activity gives you the greatest value exchange? (e.g money)
Your focal point, that ideal intangible place where you should be spending the majority of your time will be found at the intersection to these three questions. At the intersection of competency, purpose, and value exchange.
This is where you will find your personal ‘holy grail’, your home base, the place where you well feel mostly inspired without the need for external motivation.
The place where there is minimum resistance, where you are in flow, where your vocation and vacation become blurred.
Align Your Mind, Heart, And Spirit
Warren Buffet consistently mentions that he is one of the luckiest humans alive. Lucky not because of the massive wealth he has amassed through the investment vehicle Berkshire Hathaway. He quickly points to the fact that he has very little utility for his compounding billions.
His sense of joy is derived from his ability to remain completely focused as he loses himself in what he does best, his unique ability to discover undervalued businesses, combined with his purposeful desire to return his cascading wealth to the people of this world, leaving it better than when he entered. In addition to this, he adds that his ability to focus on what really matters allows him to spend the balance of his time with people who equally care about him as he does for them.
It becomes easy to focus the minutes in your hour, and the hours in your day when you find a purpose worth pursuing, underpinned by your unique skills and a heightened sense of joy that is shared.
Focus. We all have 365 day in the year, 24 hours in the day, each divided into 60 equal increments. The difference in how our time on Earth plays out is directly related in what we choose to focus on at every present moment. Choose wisely.