Focus Leads to Action

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

The Big Idea:

If you’re successful in creating focus, the next logical step is to take action.

The Briefing:

This post talks about two very important things that work together to create action - focus and priorities. Without them both, you may get a lot of stuff done, but will it be the right stuff? Is it the stuff that helps you achieve your goals?

Seth Godin puts it this way, “Without a list, you can see how making intelligent decisions is impossible, so we resort to confusing activity with productivity.” Classic mistake. You get a lot of things done, but it doesn’t necessarily equate to progress. You need to establish priorities and order your list accordingly. But how do you figure out what the priorities are?

In a post on the Harvard Business Review blog, Professor Art Markman, PhD talks about the companion to priorities, focus. More specifically, being able to adjust your focus between the abstract (big picture) and the specific (details) to create the context for understanding your priorities. Adjusting your focus based on the specific situation will allow you to create the appropriate distance between yourself and the problem you’re trying to solve. Whether the “devil’s in the details” or you’re looking at the “30,000-foot view,” adjusting your focus will help you determine what items on your list move you closest to achieving your goals. Then you can take action and be confident that you’re doing work that matters.

Take Action:

  • Create your lists, but be sure to prioritize them based on what generates accomplishment, not just activity.
  • Continue to evaluate whether your focus should be specific (details) or abstract (the big picture) when working on particular problems.
  • Once you have a focus and a prioritized plan of attack, it’s time to make something happen!

Dig Deeper:

Read Seth Godin’s entire blog post on priorities. Via

Read Professor Art Markman, PhD’s original blog post on adjusting your focus. Via