We live in a world filled with distractions. Every day is a challenge to keep our myriad conversations and obligations in order. It’s a wonder that anyone can focus on anything anymore with the tidal waves of information we’re forced to manage.
But to be successful, we’re forced to find a way to zero in on the things that need to get done. In fact, one of the most important traits that successful people possess is their ability to focus under any circumstance.
In Psychology Today, Jim Taylor zeroes in on the importance of the ability to focus:
“Focus is so important because it is the gateway to all thinking: perception, memory, learning, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. Without good focus, all aspects of your ability to think will suffer. Without focus, you won’t be as effective in your work because if you’re not concentrating on the right things or are distracted, you won’t be capable of getting your work done.
Here’s a simple reality: if you can’t focus effectively, you can’t think effectively. And if you can’t think effectively, you definitely can’t produce the quality of work necessary to be successful. From this perspective, it’s not difficult to see why focus is such an essential tool for business success.”
The sharpest people I’ve met have all had the innate ability to focus on the task at hand despite the maddening pace of their daily responsibilities. These are the people that can field a dozen phone calls, respond smartly to 20 emails, and then run into an executive meeting and report on the status of a critical project.
Taylor says that those who can execute their business in a targeted manner are probably focusing on the “Four Ps.” They ask themselves what it is they need to perform their best, and then focus on that process without distracting themselves with the final outcome of their work. They remain present in the moment and block out distractions in order to achieve productivity.
People that can focus and block out distractions have a powerful tool that will enable them to perform at a consistently high level. Those that can’t risk being overwhelmed with the giant waves of distraction that pummels us every day.
And when that happens, somebody always ends up soaking wet.
Joseph F. Bastian, president of the Human Performance Development, is a regular contributor to dbusiness.com.