The Importance of Focus

Every other Friday I post about what has been happening over the previous two weeks. It is part of my “Show Your Work” experiment I started in the fall. If you have been following along, you will note things have changed quite a bit.

But ultimately, that is a significant part of what this experiment is all about. So often when someone is successful and later tells their story of “how I did it — you can too,” there are missing elements that didn’t seem important at the time. Maybe I won’t be successful (I hope that is not the case), or more likely people won’t look to emulate me, but for the time being, it is a great way to document my progress, what I am learning, and hopefully share some insights along the way.

As I have been in the process of discerning my greater call, the overall goal for this area of my life, or just “what I want to be when I grow up,” new revelations arrive frequently. Some are distractions, but many of late have been helping me find clarity.

5 Truths Every Solopreneur Needs to Embrace

1. Reading non-fiction books to expand your thinking is critical.

This one was particularly hard for me to embrace as I am not naturally a reader. However there will be a post on Tuesday that discusses how I overcame that obstacle. Reading is a great way to gain new knowledge, challenge your current mindset, and provide a mechanism for your own creative thoughts to find footing in logical bedrock. Reading has become so critical you will note I have a rotating list of the books I have completed (and found valuable) within the last 90 days in the sidebar to the right.

2. Classes and online subscriptions are only valuable if you actually use the information.

I am sure that seems obvious when you read it, but if you are like me, you have classes, subscriptions or other learning opportunities that you have paid for of which you haven’t taken full advantage. The reality is you put out the cash for a reason, but paying for it is not enough. Before buying the next thing that catches your eye, ask yourself if you have taken full advantage of your investment in existing classes and subscriptions.

3. You are not going to run out of ideas.

Although everyone hits the wall occasionally, it is always temporary. A bigger concern is not having enough time to invest in the ideas that are really going to make a difference in your business. This is particularly true for the ideas that will pay-off  as bigger, long-term benefits as opposed to the quick wins. You don’t have to implement everything that comes to you. Successful entrepreneurs actually know that the adage, less is more, is particularly true in this arena.

4. Doing the hard thing, quite often is the right thing.

The “hard thing” can take all sorts of forms, but most everyone knows it when they are confronted with it. Facing your fear and/or doing the hard thing has been the topic for the month for the Weekly Course of Action. If it was easy everyone would become entrepreneurs and everyone who became entrepreneurs would be successful. The trick to doing the hard, right thing is to first know how you actually define success for yourself. It might not be the world’s definition.

5. Going it alone never works as a long-term strategy.

The nature of being a solopreneur is that we are working for ourselves, by ourselves. The problem is that when we work alone, no one challenges our thinking, pushes us to be our best, or sparks our creativity. This doesn’t mean you have to hire staff, even a virtual one. But it does mean you need to find peers to meet with on a regular basis. Mastermind groups are great for this purpose.

The Ultimate Answer

Once you accept the above truths, the ultimate answer becomes clear. In a single word: FOCUS.

As entrepreneurs, we are often called to perform duties and tasks outside our strongest skill sets. In addition, many times we are reasonably skilled in a variety of areas. All of this makes it easy to move from one thing to another. I know it is true for many entrepreneurs and most importantly for myself.

When I stopped letting every little thing distract me and really made an effort to focus on my goals, these were the results:

  1. I realized that my greater call (partly through reading The Art of Work by Jeff Goins) is in the area of leading through change – not just leadership, not just change management, but being a positive force to help make room for whatever is to come next.
  2. This shift in direction means I need to re-think all my current business activities, particularly related to this blog. As such, for the foreseeable future, the only new content you will find here will be the bi-weekly updates as part of my “show your work” blogging. I suspect there will continue to be valuable insights with each post, but for now the Tuesday posts will cease.
  3. All the products I wanted to create are being put on hold until I have better insight as to what will actually serve my audience. Things that are already developed, like the Boost of Confidence or my ebook on Dealing with Difficult Students will continue to be available. But I won’t be developing any new products until I am clear how they will provide value to my target audience.
  4. The Weekly Course of Action will continue, but will be changing over time to become more focused around the topics of leadership, change, and leading through change. In addition, the look and feel of GwenBortner.com will be morphing over time as well, so don’t be surprised if you see changes when you visit.
  5. I need your insight! What is your biggest challenge in leading your business through both internally and externally driven change? Just click here to send me an email with your thoughts. To make this blog and my services truly valuable, I first need to know where you struggle.

If you want to be reminded to come visit the blog to discover what I have learned on my journey, please make sure you sign-up below to be notified when a new post is available.

Will focusing make a difference? Time will tell the tale. However I have committed the next 3 months – or until I reach some very specific, measurable goals – whichever comes first.