Archive for the ‘Focus’ Category

Know thyself.”

~ Delphi Temple Inscription

The title read something to the effect of It’s Time to Make Enemies. “What an odd title for an article in a business magazine,” I thought.  Nevertheless, I was intrigued!

Seriously? Make Enemies? I thought our goals were supposed to be peace, love, joy, harmony, organic, and being green.


The author went on to say that as a business owner sometimes you just have to stand your ground, stay true to your goal, and be confident in your identity — regardless of who might walk away in a snit.

It was a much-needed update on Shakespeare’s, “To thine own self be true.”

Interestingly enough, the next day I was reading the “How I Did It” article in Inc. The author profiled Jerry Murrell, founder of the super-successful Five Guys Burgers and Fries.  Murrell is a no-nonsense guy with a clear mission. He knows what he’s supposed to be doing.

Murrell’s secret recipe is to “keep it simple.” He never advertises, doesn’t offer a drive-thru, and is committed to offering the best burgers and fries in the business.  In the article, Murrell offered interesting and practical advice while providing a 21st Century spin on creating “enemies.”

When we first opened (in Northern Virginia), the Pentagon called and said, “We want 15 hamburgers; what time can you deliver?”

I said, “What time can you pick them up? We don’t deliver.”

There was an admiral running the place. So he called me up personally and said, “Mr. Murrell, everyone delivers food to the Pentagon.”

We  got a 22-foot long banner that said, ABSOLUTELY NO DELIVERY and hung it in front of our store.

And then our business from the Pentagon picked up.

I like Mr. Murrell.  And his approach.

As I see it, the problem is that we spend so much time and energy pleasing people who, in the grand scheme of things, distract us from our dream and divert resources from our mission, that we dilute our impact and erase our effectiveness.

Why is it that we feel compelled to ensure that each individual is content, comfortable, and appeased, regardless of the cost to ourselves?

Stop it.

Stay focused on your dream. Don’t allow others to sabotage your focus with demands that don’t fit your plan.  Let them go somewhere else for delivery.

Whatever you are, sometimes it’s okay to make enemies!


Read Full Post »

The future you see is the future you get” [Robert G. Allen].

It’s Friday — TGIF and all of that!

I don’t know about you, but what a week it has been. In a good way. No, it would probably be more accurate to say, in a great way.

As I sit at my desk and review the past several days, I don’t have any huge wins or amazing accomplishments to write in my journal. There was nothing I would label as an earth-shattering breakthrough.

I think what made the difference for me this week is that I kept my sights set on the big picture, the goal down the road, the prize at the end. And by doing so, I kept my priorities right.

When you maintain the right perspective,  it is easier to organize and prioritize the daily minutia, the “stuff,” the details that often threaten to drown each one of us.

Think of it like driving a car down the road without knowing exactly where you’re going.  As you focus on the car directly in front of you, slow down to read the signs and speed up to get to the next intersection, your driving becomes reactionary, adjustments are frequent and often severe.

It’s quite tedious and tiring. And can be dangerous.

A lot of activity, but no real sense of accomplishment.

However, if you know where you ultimately want to arrive, you can keep your focus on that point further down the road.  You become proactive, small adjustments now ensure you stay the course.  You avoid unnecessary detours, bypass the pitfalls, and the journey is much more pleasant.

Maybe that’s why many of the famous sports quotes remind us to, “Keep your eye on the prize,” not “watch your opponent.” Because as you keep your focus on the goal, you’ll take the actions required to win the match.

As Samuel Smiles said,

Progress of the best kind is comparatively slow.

Great results cannot be achieved at once;
we must be satisfied to advance in life
as we walk step by step.”

And so it was with this week.

Thanks, everyone, who shared the journey with me.  I hope you can look back with a sense of pride and fulfillment for what you accomplished over the past several days.

Now, go out there and enjoy the weekend!

Whatever you are, make sure you’re looking at the future you want!


Read Full Post »

“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking” [Albert Einstein].

I’ve been thinking . . .

About the condition of the world.  And of this country. And of our state. (Today was election day.)

I’ve been reflecting . . .

On the choices I’ve made. And the possibilities around the corner. And the future stretched out ahead of me. (What will my tomorrow look like?)

I’ve been wondering . . .

About my friends who have lost jobs. And those who are about to lose jobs. And wonder what will become of all the unemployed. (Will the jobs ever return?)

I’ve been contemplating . . .

My next steps. Important decisions. If the reward is worth the risk. (Well, I’m already this far into it.)

I’ve been hoping . . .

That the outlook will be brighter. Things will come together. A spectacular intervention will save the day. (When is that white knight arriving?)

I’ve been helping . . .

Those who need encouragement. Friends seeking a new outlook. People who need assistance getting there from here. (Too many folks are stuck.)

I’ve been reading . . .

That I never need to eat alone. That the world doesn’t owe me anything. When at all possible, Orbit the Giant Hairball. (So many books, so little time!)

I’ve been celebrating . . .

New clients for a friend. Birthdays and anniversaries. Amazing opportunities. The start of a new adventure.  (There is good news out there, if you’re willing to look for it.)

I’ve been anticipating . . .

A visit to Fallingwater. The release of a new web site. An upcoming dinner party. (I hope it’s worth the wait!)

I’ve been working . . .

On a new writing project. Reformatting resumes. Cleaning up the flower beds. (It feels good to wake up with a purpose.)

I’ve been planning . . .

Because the day is coming. The opportunity is on the way. My destiny is calling. (I can hear it!)

I’ve been thinking . . .

Well, “as long as you are going to be thinking anyway, THINK BIG” [Donald Trump].

What have you been doing?

Whatever you are, be a good one!


Read Full Post »

Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only those who keep their eye fixed on the far horizon will find their right road” [Dag Hammarskjold].

You completed the research. You spoke with the experts. You designed the plan. You assumed the risk. You gathered your confidence and made your move.

Today you are facing in the direction of your dreams. You can see your destiny way out there, in the distance. It may appear to be a little speck on the horizon to others, but in your mind it glows bright with possibility.

You take one step. And then another. Each day you make progress.  At times, the progress is simply that you didn’t move backward. Other times there are small steps. Some days there are leaps and bounds. You cannot be deterred; you keep your eye on the prize because it glows bright with possibility.

Your family cheers you on.
You write about it in your journal.
You discuss it with friends over lunch.
You print it out in fancy script and frame it for your office.
You print encouragement on notes and scatter them throughout your life.
You are going to do THIS!

There will be days when the winds blow. The storm clouds gather. The journey becomes difficult. The bank account is small. The choices too many.  DON’T LOOK DOWN!

You can look down at the distractions or remain focused on where you want to go. You can stumble over the disappointments or continue confidently toward your future. The choice is yours.

When the frustrations mount, take time to recall the moment when you decided to do this. When the passion was fierce. The energy was high. Your gaze was focused on the goal . . . which was bright with possibility.

Encourage yourself. Don’t look down. Remain focused on the goal. You can do this!

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination” [Christopher Columbus].

What are you looking at?

Whatever you are, be a good one!


Read Full Post »

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing” [Stephen R. Covey].

What is your “main thing”? You have a “main thing,” don’t you?

I see a lot of people rushing around from this project to that task, putting out fires and basically running themselves into a frenzy. They are exhausted, uninspired, and under-performing. Because they haven’t committed to a main thing, anything and everything catches their eye, captures their attention, and steals their time.

“Time wasted is existence,
used is life” [unknown].

Non-existent planning, failure to anticipate the future, and zero sense of urgency results in unnecessary last minute changes, missed opportunities, and unrealized goals. Time to create, be resourceful, reinvest in yourself, or exceed expectations becomes extinct.

The act of planning is neither fun nor glamorous, but it’s the main thing that will keep you on track to reaching YOUR main thing. Unlike winning the lottery, where you can just sit on the sofa all day and wait for your number to show up, dreams require plans.

“Good plans shape good decisions.
That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true”

Without planning, excellence is fleeting. Excellence requires the ability to focus and to create for oneself a sense of structure. The discipline to plan is the dray horse of excellence; it means will power and self-sacrifice. It requires a long-term outlook. Paradoxically, planning can be liberating. It shapes your identity and gives you the freedom to build by keeping the main the main thing [Pincott].

I have worked with people (and I’m sure you have, too), who, for whatever reason, failed to plan. Each day was a three-alarm fire. Every project was past due. They were always so “incredibly busy” putting out fires, that everything waited until the last minute. And then, if something went wrong at the last minute (and it invariably does), it was a catastrophe of enormous proportions. Which, coincidentally, carried them even further away from their main thing.

The problem is, when you are constantly operating against the deadline, you are not delivering your best work, putting forth your best effort, or enjoying the journey. Life becomes a series of mad dashes to the finish line, with you arriving late, out of breath, and disheveled.

Wouldn’t it be easier to have a plan? Write down your main thing. Then, write down the things that keep the main thing the main thing. Then, work the plan.

As Vince Lombardi said, “success demands singleness of purpose.”

Whatever you are, be a good one,


Read Full Post »

Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction” [Alice in Wonderland].

The other day my friend and I were assigned with assembling two office desks. In the store showroom, the pieces appeared as an attractive and functional piece of furniture with a return, shelf, and pull-out keyboard drawer. However, the desks arrived disassembled in flat boxes full of laminated particle boards, metal supports and legs, several bags of assorted screws, and an Allen wrench.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve put together enough of this “do-it-yourself” furniture to be sure of one thing — you need to read the directions (the advice provided by the manufacturer) first. Why wouldn’t you read them? The directions save time and frustration and, hopefully, will keep you from having to disassemble to reassemble. It’s a waste of time to rework your work.

So, as soon as I opened the first box, I reached for the instruction book. “Oh, you’re one of those. You read the directions?!” my friend asked. I started laughing. I’m not sure if he was implying I harbored some sort of deficiency that would cause me to start with the directions, or I was an uninspired clod, but I thought it was hysterical that he would consider starting the project somewhere else other than the beginning.

“Well begun is half done” [Aristotle].

I realize that sometimes people eschew directions, preferring the freedom and adventure of “winging it” and seeing where they end up. My husband knew of a woman who never planned her vacations. There was no direction, rhyme, or reason. She would simply start driving on the first day and then arbitrarily select a car to follow. Today: the brown Buick. Tomorrow: the red Impala. Next day: repeat, and so on. The thrill for her was in not knowing where she would end up each day.

But sometimes, arriving at a particular destination is a priority. (See desk example above.)

And there are still other times where you come across an inspired idea that you know is terrific. However, after careful consideration you realize that “no directions came with this idea” [William Maxwell]. So you forge ahead relying on past experiences, or advice from others, or both.

“Learn from the mistakes of others — you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself [Martin Vanbee].

Perhaps Vanbee’s advice is the best advice of all. To learn from others. Oliver Goldsmith said that, “people seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy.” When I see people “winging” their lives, and hear them say that life doesn’t come with directions, I’m confused. Do they fail to see the millions of instruction manuals walking around every day — those people who provide instruction, strength, caution, inspiration, and perspective just by living their lives?

“Very few people are wise by their own counsel, or learned by their own teaching.
For he that was only taught by himself had a fool for his master” [Ben Johnson].

Not only is it wise for us to benefit from the example of others, it’s also important to recognize that the way you live your life, and the decisions you make, and the manner in which you respond are providing instruction to others every day. It may be your spouse, your children, your colleagues, or your neighbor, but someone, somewhere is learning something from you. You are a living, breathing instruction manual for others.

“If . . . you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning” [Catherine Aird].

If you have a problem to solve a question to answer, or a challenge to overcome, “it’s never too late to read the directions (or look to the example of others) . . . It may be the last resort. It may spoil the challenge. It may insult your intelligence. But, then again . . . it may solve the problem” [Patrick Lindsay].

If all else fails, read the instructions.

Whatever you are, be a good one!


Read Full Post »