Ever see someone try to balance a register while trying to process e-mail at the same time? How about someone trying to carry on a conversation important to the other person yet they had their head-down with something on their computer or in a book? What was the focus like? Maybe you were that person.
As Leaders we direct the attention and efforts of others. If were going to direct people effectively and efficiently, we first need to be aware of our own focus. After all, “focus goes where energy flows”.
Given the impact your words, attention and behavior have on your organization and people, you can’t afford to not “focus on your focus” and “attend to your attention”. Here are 6 factors that can help you do just that:
- Emotional Intelligence– Given the brain’s interconnected neural circuitry, the emotions are the brain’s way of directing attention and managing attention is the mind’s way of controlling emotion. The good news is that S+EI abilities that can be learned and improved on.
- Cognitive Effort- This is the mental labor required to process the information load we get inundated with daily. Like a muscle, it can get overworked and begin to fail….and along with it, our attention and concentration. Both overload and depleted energy (i.e glucose) serve to sabotage our efforts.
- Concentration- For goal-driven concentration it’s being able stick with a single point of focus and ignore the “whirlwind”…everything else vying for our attention
- Cognitive Control- The ability to put Cognitive Effort and Concentration together. It’s paying ongoing attention to that which you’ve intentionally chosen.
- Mode of Attention- The “top-down” kind allows us to intentionally choose what we want to focus on vs the “bottom-up” kind which is automatic and best suited for other kinds of activities, mainly supportive. Make sure you’re operating with the former when leading others.
- Attention Fatigue- Again, being overwhelmed, under-fueled or both will contribute to this. Symptoms? Mild ones serve as warning signals and include increased distractedness and irritability. Some major ones include outbursts, shuts-downs, indecisiveness and old bad behaviors roaring back to life.
Which of these 6 factors of focus are you doing well with and which ones are sabotaging you? Pick one to work on that if you improved in, would make the others improve or easier to grow in as well.
If your strong in one of these and/or have learned some things that have really helped you, please leave a comment and share the wealth; I’d really appreciate being able to benefit and so would many others. If you need an assist or input from others, make those comment requests as well.
Next up are 3 keys to keeping focused.