I once had someone say this to me, the gentlemen worked for me as a Regional Manager and we were discussing the challenges of focusing on certain sales categories over others. The discussion started with how to drive top line sales growth with new customer acquisition while continuing to enhance the bottom line with incremental ancillary sales. We were a retailer and each new customer was worth approximately $175 in Gross Profit, but we were trying to stretch that to $200 or even $210.
The question was, “How would we be able to do that?” Well, after discussing which categories were the most profitable, and then deciding which had the most customer value, we worked on a strategic plan to drive those ancillary category sales. The plan worked, and we were quite successful in achieving our Revenue targets. However, we became a victim of our own success and believed that we could keep pushing the categories higher. The argument of “The Law of Diminishing Returns”, seemed to logically apply, and we found ourselves trapped at a certain level of productivity.
I was now working with my Leadership team discussing how we might stretch ourselves from this new bench mark, and the suggestion that we should “Focus” on a particular sales category seemed to surface. That was when this Regional Manager spoke up and said, “Focus is a 4-letter word”. We all kind of stopped and considered his comment, then debated if it was accurate. Certainly, in the manner that we had discussed, it did seem his statement had some logic to it. The point being that if we focused on any one category too much, we would do so at the detriment of another, or potentially all other categories.
We had 6 categories that brought varying levels of revenue, and every customer was likely to be a good client for any 3 or 4 of those categories, so to try and put too much emphasis on any one category, might cost some sales potential. However, the follow up argument was that no one representative knew each of the 6 categories well enough to effectively offer a quality sales presentation on them, because they tended to “focus” on the ones they were most comfortable with. This idea, lends credibility to the concept that “focus” was and is a bad concept, at least in this context. And, more importantly, focus should be closely scrutinized to ensure that it’s value isn’t lost in a similar fashion.
This was quite early in my career and that concept and exercise, albeit jaded, had a profound impact on my career and life over the next 16 years. Fast forward to about 5 years ago, and my run-in with this concept again regarding personal development. My initial tendency was now trained to quickly recognize that focus can be a dreadful thing and scrutinize it extensively. Ironically, “focus” when it comes to goal setting and personal growth is quite important and some might say imperative. I however, had a personal bias against too much focus on any one thing, I believe mostly due to this personal experience, and probably to a detriment. My challenge was I was concerned that if I put too much focus on any one category that I might be leaving something else on the table.
The problem with this concept is that doesn’t really work in the personal development field. When it comes to personal growth, the amount of energy necessary to get a big project or goal off the ground is so immense that to spread yourself over too much, or potentially anything else, could likely spell disaster for that goal. You must be laser-focused on what is going to make that project come together and what is needed to take it to each stage. So much energy is necessary that anything less than this type of maniacal focus may leave you disappointed with your goal.
If you were to chronicle any of the big industry movers and shakers in our world and look for balance in their lives, you will likely not find much balance. Leaders like Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, or Sam Walton, people that by most measures would most likely be considered successful. These individuals who have truly changed our world, if you looked, you would find that they, for the most part, were so focused on their dreams and goals that they were very one-sided in their pursuit to success. And, when evaluating the 9 categories that I use in my Goal Setting process, you would find that only a few of those categories would be fulfilled with these people.
So, although this all or nothing kind of approach to achieving your goals will most certainly help you in achieving your goals. If you are so focused on any one thing like this, for any extended period, you will likely miss out, or leave something else on the table. In practical application, we have all heard of the person who sacrifices their family or marriage for success at work or their career. People put off having children, then later in life end up not having them at all, because they put their careers first.
I could certainly list all kinds of similar scenarios, but the point is that “Focus” is a phenomenally powerful skill when used correctly, but it must be tempered, if you are trying to build a life of balance. If you aren’t worried about filling all 9 buckets of your life categories, then you have nothing to worry about. BUT, if you want to have a quality family life, great relationships, achieve success in your career, manage your finances well, build wealth, have exceptional life experiences, and live a healthy fulfilling life, then “Focus” can be a detriment, and you must weigh it’s uses accordingly.
I hope you found this blog enlightening and hope to get some feedback.
Till next time.