Stop Chasing ‘Shiny Objects.’ Three Ways to Stay Focused.
Entrepreneurs are known for taking risks, having tireless energy, and dreaming up countless “good ideas.” Yet they commonly have a tendency to hop from one idea or business venture to the next, forever chasing “shiny objects” and pursuing what they hope will be the next great thing. In fact, this distractibility is one of the top reasons why so many start-ups fail, according to a Statistic Brain study. Among the 12 major management mistakes linked to entrepreneurial busts, one of the biggies is lack of focus. And at MAP, this is a very common leadership challenge, something we hear new clients tell us they struggle with all the time. Occasionally there can be really good reasons for lack of focus, yet people often make a lot of excuses for why they’re so distracted. Regardless, the best leaders learn how to get a razor-sharp focus on their leadership, their people and the business. They know that without it, they’ll run themselves down and their organizations into the ground.
Here are three ways to get and stay focused:
1. Clearly define your company’s vision, mission and values.
A lot of great ideas become the launch pad for new businesses every day. But if their leaders don’t have a clear vision of where they’re going, understand the mission, and have values that their people understand and can use as the basis to operate and interact, these organizations are likely to crash and burn before getting far off the ground.
At MAP, it’s not uncommon for us to sign on with a new client that’s been in operation for a number of years only to discover that they’ve never formally defined their vision, mission or values. (This happens a lot with family-owned businesses, in fact.) Aside from helping formalize and professionalize aspects of the business, these three guideposts provide critical structure and understanding. They are the seeds of an organization’s intent and culture; from there, whatever happens is much more likely to grow, be strong and remain rooted.
2. Put new ideas to “the test.”
A good way to evaluate whether some idea is yet another “shiny object” or something that truly has potential and makes solid sense is to put it to a test. If the new idea doesn’t align with your company’s vision, mission and values, it’s probably wise to pass on it. Likewise, if you’ve got strategies that support your business’s mission, any new idea pursued should complement those strategies. For example, let’s say you’ve got a strategy to provide a higher level of customer service in your industry. But then a team manager proposes a major cost-cutting effort that would significantly compromise your customer service department. In this case, the proposed cut is in opposition to your strategy and shouldn’t be undertaken—it’s an idea that fails “the test.”
The whole point to the test is that it helps you determine whether or not you’ll be able to successfully implement and, importantly, execute an idea. It’s a way to avoid wasting time, money and other resource on unlikely pursuits.
3. Create (and use) a solid plan.
You’ve heard the expression “life is two-thirds planning and one-third delivery.” Well, it’s true. When you take the time to plan and use a planning tool that’s effective (one that’s not too complicated but proven to work), you’re going to get greater focus on what matters. With a good plan, you’ll also have a framework for reaching goals.
Keep your plan somewhere handy (not buried in a file cabinet or desk drawer), so it’s easy to revisit daily or weekly. This plan will be that powerful reminder to stay on task and resist the temptation to get derailed from random ideas and other distractions that will invariably come your way.
What “shiny objects” distract you from remaining focused, productive and successful?