FOCUS: How to Focus your efforts
At a talk I gave recently, I encouraged audience members to FOCUS on their own values and goals: I believe that the innate tools that you have inside of you will help guide your actions and, in turn, create your reality. This applies to both your business and your personal life: with FOCUS on the details as well as a bigger FOCUS on the "big picture", we have no limitations on what we are capable of achieving.
F - Follow your passions
O - Overcome obstacles
C - Continuous Growth
U - Understanding Systems
S - Sharing Knowledge
Many of us are following a passion and using all the resources available to us to create new products and services, or to make existing ideas and processes better. To help nudge our mental thought process closer and closer to our internal values that we choose to live by, I encourage you to take the existing Values Test that Steve Pavlina highlights, it's at Douglas Wagoner's site:
Exercise 1: http://www.douglaswagoner.com/ValueTest.php What are your values as of today?
The Importance of FOCUSING: "The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." -Michelangelo
FOLLOW YOUR PASSIONS
Over your lifetime, the process of understanding and following your passions will help you identify and navigate towards your highest, most worthwhile achievements. I'm a true believer in following your passions. There is something within you that you know, deep down inside, is your core "thing to do." It's your mission in life! It's what gives you a sense of deep, fulfilled purpose, and if you do not accomplish this thing, you probably feel just a little bit uneasy or bad inside.
One way to help you understand your passion in life is by inventorying your life stories, in particular those stories where you truly enjoyed what you were doing. What are you most proud of? When were you doing something with your whole heart, soul, and every fiber of your being? Were there some instances, or events, or achievements, where you were most happy?
Richard Nelson Bolles' "What Color is Your Parachute" is an excellent guide for this exercise. He challenges you to identify twelve "stories" of your life in great detail, even from your earliest childhood days. Then, he encourages you to identify the *VERBS* within the stories.
For example, typical verbs for me include: organizing, connecting, educating, and empowering. Once you know those three to five verbs that capture you at your personal best, it's time to expand your life to include those occupations, activities, and volunteer options where you put those verbs into practice. These could take the form of a Goals list, where you identify your top twenty goals for your life: these are items that you must accomplish for you to feel your life has been worthwhile. It may take some time to narrow this list down, but now's a great time to get started on your Top Twenty Goals.
Exercise 2: Write down your goals on a piece of paper and carry it around in your wallet. Or declare them on 43Things.com and refer to them at least once a day for the next month.
When I was a junior in high school, I went to summer music camp at Florida State University, where I took master classes with the piano professor in residence. He told me straight up that "You will never be a concert pianist".
He was right!
In retrospect, if I had believed in what I was doing with an unshakeable strength, I could overcome any obstacle, especially someone else's opinion. If I truly believed, I would have even taken that statement as a challenge to prove my intent and I would have worked even harder to achieve. However, this particular teacher was right: he sensed, at some level, that I didn't want to be (and would never become) a concert pianist. I still play piano and I still love sharing music with others, but I'm not in private recital.
Now, there is an interesting thought experiment here about the role of this teacher, the role of my own self-defined limitations, and the nature of an obstacle. If, for example, I had been told since I was a young girl that I would always be successful, that I would lead a charmed life, that I would be able to do good in the world, and that I would be an agent for positive social change, then I would probably act in ways to fulfill that belief system. Obstacles would become challenges to overcome on the road map to my end destination. If I had been told since I was a young girl that I would never achieve anything, that I would never amount to anything, that nothing I could ever do would make a difference, then, most probably, I would act in ways to fulfill that belief system! (including believing any potential obstacle)
What are your obstacles? What are your beliefs about what is possible and what is not? To what extent are you willing to believe your own reality, and to what extent may that change? When we identify our values and goals, and when we start living in a way that supports those values and goals, we will find all kinds of resources and opportunities that match our desired result.
Does change scare you? If so, you'll never be able to improve, and you'll never be able to take advantage of new ways of thinking and new ways of doing something. Change is scary! That's just the way it is!
No one likes to change their thought patterns or behavior, especially because as humans we are pre-programmed to desire routine and sameness. That said, "if we're doing what we've been doing, we're going to get what we've been getting!" If you're not feeling like you're achieving your full potential, then embrace change. Don't be afraid of failure, and definitely don't let fear get in your way. Fear, as my coach says, is "False Evidence Appearing Real."
When you are thinking as a change agent, you are open to manifesting whatever the universe has in store for you. T. Harv Eker in his Secrets of the Millionaire Mind book, explains his definition of an entrepreneur as "someone who solves problems... for a profit!" When we incorporate entrepreneurial thinking into our basic mind-set (this might mean releasing any self-limiting or self-destructive thoughts), we start to see a world of opportunities: we start to see great ideas everywhere! We start to see an ability to change an existing product or service and make it better! Or we see a new product or service that we can create!
Exercise 3: Change your routine! Once every thirty days, incorporate something from your Goals list into your regular routine. Practice new habits! It takes ten times to get my son to try a new food and like it, so a new habit may certainly become part of your routine when you commit to it.
Write down your routine on multiple pieces of paper and post them in conspicous places throughout your environment. Changing your routine might be something as simple as taking an additional 15 minutes each day to take concrete steps towards your Goals, using your values to guide you. You will be surprised at how much you embrace change, especially positive change, that brings you closer to your true self.
The world is made up of massive, interconnected, inter-related systems. For example, capitalism is a system with creators, inventors, proucers, organizers, distributors, and consumers. The ocean is a system with tremendous mini-systems including the wind, water temperatures, air temperatures, oceanic currents, water pressure, all kinds of bio-diversity from plankton to whales, etc. Our own physical body is a system including the nervous system, the digestive system, the circulatory system, the skeletal system, the endocrine system, and thousands of other processes. What affects one item affects other items.
Once we understand how our actions and results "fit in" with the system that we are a part of, we achieve more clarity on our own skills and abilities. We achieve a greater understanding of the specific nature of what we offer. We utilize better knowledge on where we best "fit". In the United States, women of color in business are traditionally minorities: we are not usually in the majority of opinions, thoughts, or decision-making at our place of work.
This means we have a fantastic opportunity to closely observe our own system, then use our knowledge to share with each other, communicate and brainstorm to actively change our system, where change is needed. For example, if each of us pro-actively promotes an anti-discrimination policy, or if each of us actively works to gain a seat on the Board, or if each of us contributes some of our time, talent, and treasure to better our communities, we actively shape and create the systems around us.
If you've come this far, thank you. I appreciate your readership and I encourage you to take some of these ideas and make them real in your own life. Practice and then come back and report on what you've learned so you can share with the rest of this community. I love sharing any knowledge that I've learned with other people and I hope that you, too, will feel comfortable sharing your own valuable, unique knowledge. You will be amazed at how receptive other people are to your message when it's delivered straight from your values list.
So, to recapture the above: follow your passions, overcome anything that looks like an obstacle, always strive for continuous growth, understand the system that you are working within, and share your knowledge with others.
Exercise 4: Send this link to someone that you trust and include a declaration of something you plan to achieve this year from your Goals list. This person will be a cheerleader for you and will help you achieve your goals... you will also inspire them to live with their values and goals in mind!
(photo by compujeramey)