A Leg Up on the Competition

Have you ever played darts? The goal is to hit the bullseye. Coming close is really not an option as your competition is likely to hit it. To play darts requires skill, flexibility and focus. The same can be said of achieving results, hitting the bullseye so to speak.

It's one of the hardest things for executives to do. I'll admit I have been guilty of it too - no, not playing darts.  Thinking that I must fill up every hour of everyday to stay ahead, there was not time for reflection or stepping out of the fray. Taking time away from the business is an anathema to most executives. Just not enough time.

CEOs are forever seeking a competitive edge in order to achieve results and reach their goals or earnings targets. You're a leader. Results matter. According to Patrick M. Lencioni, author of several books, including "The Five Temptations of a CEO", "The most important principle that an executive must embrace is a desire to produce results".

But did you know that allowing yourself some quiet time for solitude and reflection actually gives you a leg up on the competition and can improve your success rate? 

When I began my study in the ancient marshal art of Tai Chi training in the early morning with a master, a whole new world opened up for me. My mind was less cluttered, my focus improved and my productivity reached new heights. And I was more authentic (being authentic is a must for any leader). 

But you don't have to study Tai Chi to achieve greater focus, be authentic or get results. Taking time to step out of the clutter and the noise, and choosing to give yourself permission for solitude will yield great returns. It’s time well spent investing in yourself. 

The Competitive Advantage

As the co-author of Lead Yourself First, Mark Erwin states, “ The ability to focus is a competitive advantage in the world today”. He provides several tips to help you stay focused in his recent HBR article.

For one executive I know, running is her solitude time. It helps her align priorities and create strategies. Highly effective methods for solitude include taking long walks (Steve Jobs used walks to improve creative thinking and hold important meetings ), or meditation (Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford Motor Co. does it, why not you?). Other mindfulness methods include time spent in nature, mindful breathing or the practices of yoga, Tai Chi or Qui Gong. 

Everything Flows From You

As a leader, whether you knew this or not, everyone is watching. Your actions and the behaviors that you tolerate and too, the ones you celebrate define your company's or organization's culture. Are you clear about the type of culture you want in your organization? Do you use catchy maxim's or vision statements to help define it? Are your actions/behaviors and the actions/behaviors of your colleagues and employees aligned with what you believe to be your culture?

You see, everything flows from you. YES, YOU. One of my mentors once asked me this question. "How do you model the courage that you want from those around you?" Hmm... Model...Courage. Made me think. And then he asked, "Would you follow you?" Wow! That hit home.

How about in your current situation? Would you follow you? Now knowing what you know, could some improvement in clarity and focus be useful? What follows are some simple steps to help you get started.

Getting Started

You can start by taking just 15 minutes a day to recharge and boost your focus with simple breathing. Take more time if you'd like, but start with at least 15 minutes.

It goes like this: slowly breathe in through your nose, exhale from your mouth. Let your body and shoulders relax with each breath. Relax your thoughts and your mind. Keep bringing your mind back to your breath. It will wander. That's okay. Just keep focusing on your breath. Afterwards, observe yourself. How did it feel? Repeat daily, every day.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Comment or send me a message. I'd love to hear about your experience. 

Stay focused my friends.

John is the founder and CEO of John J. Fenton, Executive Coaching. He helps CEOs and Executives to think differently and achieve more success, clarity and freedom. John is an executive coach, member of the Forbes Coaches Council, professional speaker, author, black belt in Tai Chi and an expert in self-mastery.

To learn more, you can engage directly with John at John@JohnJFenton.com or visit his website at JohnJFenton.com.