Focus is a very powerful thing. Maintaining your focus is paramount, no matter if it is career focus, business focus or in any other aspect of your life. In all areas of your life – personal, business or career – not only should we remain focused, but we must focus on the right thing. In order to keep moving forward we must be solution-focused, as opposed to problem-focused.
Any golfer knows that when they are setting up to hit a shot that must travel over the water, they need to focus on where they intend for the ball to land. If the golfer starts telling themselves, “Okay, you need to hit this shot and whatever you do, just DON’T hit it in the water,” guess where the ball will go 80 to 90 percent of the time? You guessed it – in the water. Why? Because they begin focusing on the problem (the water) instead of focusing on where the ball should land.
Maintaining a positive, or solution, focus requires a change in the mindset for most people. The negative seems to have a greater impact on us than the positive. We might be complimented by 15 people but after the person 16 gives us negative feedback, that is all we remember and that is where we focus. Because of this tendency, it really takes a shift in our mindset to be solution-focused. However, once we make the shift, it can be very powerful.
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. Socrates
A few years ago I was working in Chicago with a financial services firm that did a lot of the behind-the-scenes payment processing for banks all over the country. Our largest bank client (a very heavy-handed client) was a very prestigious institution that catered to very wealthy clientele. One morning, around 3 AM, I received a phone call informing me of a massive system failure that impacted our clients – especially our large, heavy-handed client. The failure was so significant that it took hours to even determine what caused the entire system to go down. As it turns out, a piece of hardware failed in one of the servers that began a domino effect and brought the system down. By mid-morning, we brought everyone together to discuss the status of the situation. During this meeting, everyone began to talk about the problems with the clients “bashing” us for the failure. Then some began pointing fingers at others because “they should have known that a system designed this way could lead to a massive failure” and on and on it went. Then others began talking about how it was going to take until the next day to get everything resolved – something the clients would not accept!
It was at that point that I asked them to stop focusing on the problems preventing us from recovering quickly for our clients, but focus on solutions – what can we do to get things back up sooner? Were there others we could pull in to help us get things back on track? Once we became solution-focused, the group’s attitude turned more positive and there was a productive energy that took over. We then mapped out a plan to get things back up much sooner than we first thought. In fact, we had the system restored and functioning roughly 4 hours later that day – 18 to 20 hours sooner than we first thought.
The bottom line was that we could either focus on the reasons we could not accomplish getting the system back up quickly or we could concentrate on the results we desired. By doing the latter, we were able to resolve the issue much sooner than anyone initially thought.
Next week we will look at some ways that we can help train our minds and create the attitude of being solution-focused rather than problem-focused. I hope you’ll check back!