Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Day 47 of 365 Tiny Changes

I’ve been researching and thinking about what makes one person more successful, then another.

When I use the term successful, I’m not just referring to financially, though that certainly is included.  One can choose their success.  One can be a successful parent, athlete, scrapbooker, sales person...you fill in the blank.  It doesn’t matter what one is successful at, just that one is successful.

So I’ve read, and I’ve researched, and I’ve chatted, and I’ve thought about it.  Finally, the answer occurred to me.  Focus.  The majority of the successful people who I’ve researched had this one thing in common. They all knew what they wanted and then went after it, like a dog after a stick. In order to become successful at anything, one has to really focus on it.

Think about it.  To become a good parent, it would be extremely necessary to focus on the child and the child’s needs.  If one is focused on work when the child is in the room, would one be a better worker or a better parent?  At that moment in time, one would be a more successful worker than a parent.   Now, if the focus was shifted to the child and his needs, and  the job responsibilities neglected, at that moment, one would be a better parent than a worker.

Focus.  It is possible to be successful at more that one thing.  We all have many areas and interest in our lives that need and deserve our attention.  Zig Ziglar suggests that we focus on only 4 major areas in our lives at a time.  Any more than that and we are overwhelmed.  Any less and we over focus and risk becoming helicopter parents, or workaholics, or the like.

I spent the last two weeks in total focus on a redecorating project.  I was able to put 160 hours into this project to see it to it’s completion.  A true success.  Unfortunately, I did what Zig warned against.  I hyper focused, and left every other responsibility in my life hanging in the wind.  Now, I have to focus on catching up.  (A word to the wise.  Never leave 2 adult men to fend for themselves for 2 weeks and have any expectations that the house will be clean or there will be any food in the house when you return.  You will be sorely disappointed.)

I had a client who was really good at focusing on a few things at a time.  He was a dentist and he was focused.  Really focused.  When he first sat down with me, he told me that he had goals.  Real goals that he was totally committed to.  Goals that he was totally focused on.

His first goal was to buy out his partner within one year.  His second goal was to double his patient load within that same year.  His third goal was to build the house of his wife’s dreams.  His fourth goal was to continue to build a happy healthy family.

He came to me to help him with goal number 3, building the house.  And build a house he did.  At first he couldn’t afford the house that he wanted.   I told him how much he would need to increase his income to make his dream come true.  He left my office, not upset, as one might expect, but focused on the chore at hand.  Three months later he reappeared.  He had increased his patient load enough in that time to qualify for the home that he wanted to build.

This was not as simple as it sounds.  The man was considered self employed.  At that time, in order to calculate what loan amount for which a self employed borrower was eligible, it was necessary to average his income from the previous 2 years.  In three months time, this man was able to increase his patient base enough to raise his entire 2 year average income to qualify for the home that he wanted. 

Fast forward a year later.  The house is complete, his wife is happy, they has a 2nd child on the way, and he had bought out his partner.  In one year, he had accomplished everything he had set out to do.  I was impressed, to say the least. 

I had the opportunity to chat with his wife and asked her if she would share his secret to success with me.  She told me this.  Every evening, he came home and after dinner and family time, and after the kids were tucked into bed, he sat down at his computer and ran his numbers.  He tracked his successes and his shortfalls.  He then knew exactly what he had to set out to do the next day to stay on track to reach his next goal.  He did this every night.  This dentist is the poster boy for the word Focus.

So how does one choose just what to focus upon.  I agree with Stephen Covey when he states, “ Begin with the end in mind.”

I have a friend, who, in boot camp, decided that he would become the Master Chief of the
U. S. Coast Guard, when he saw the current Master Chief’s picture on a poster.  This is the highest ranking enlisted position in the U. S. military.  He was laughed at, and even punished, for stating such a dream.  Fast forward 30 some years and meet my friend, the now retired,  first African American Master Chief of the U. S. Coast Guard.  He began with the end in mind, and never lost focus on his goal.

I think this is excellent advise for any endeavor we choose in life.

Even when raising a child, I believe, the parent needs to know how they want that child to turn out as an adult. 

Does the parent want the child to become a contributing member to the community?  Well, then it would probably be important to teach them manners, respect, and social skills.  It may also be important to expose them to community oriented groups such as scouts. 

Does the parent want the child to honor nature?  Then exposing them to hiking and arboretums and worms and bugs, and other sorts of natural things may prove beneficial. 

Thinking long term, about how the child will be as an adult, is a more committed focus.  Of course there are still no guarantees, because every child has his own personality and preferences.  However, I think having focused expectations and providing exposure to many positive situations will give the child a better chance to be a success as an adult, versus,  just getting up in the morning and hoping that you can all survive each other until bedtime.  Without an idea of what type of adult you want to raise, you may get what you get, and wonder how they turned out that way, either good or bad.

Same with a job.  One can go to work every day, with no other intention than to clock in, pull the bolt out, put the bolt in, and clock out.  Or one can decide, up front, where they would like to end up with their career, and then make focused choices to get there, like my friend the Master Chief.

I personally, have been saddled with the issue of short term focus.  I find something that interests me and I focus on that for a while, until I find something else that interests me, and then I focus on that for a while...While this has kept my life interesting, I haven’t been focused long enough on most things to become truly successful at them.  This has also lead to a lot of unfinished projects, everywhere!

I will be 51 years old in three weeks.  Perhaps it’s time I decided what end results I really want and truly focused on getting there.  After all, I only have 51 more years to become the success I know I can be.

Tiny Change 47:  Create a Vision Binder of what I want my successes to look like.

If I know what the “end” looks like, it may be easier to stay focused on the activities needed to get there.

What does your “end” look like?  How focused are you on your success?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am truly blessed to have so many interests and the opportunity to explore many more.

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