One of the hallmarks of very successful people is their ability to maintain focus on the things that are important to them or their business. It’s a rare and quite valuable trait. While most of us can stay focused for a limited length of time, we allow distractions and other priorities to gradually throw us off track. Like crows, we become attracted to bright shiny objects, and head off in different directions.

It’s no help that so many of today’s prominent voices in business continue to proclaim the virtue of change. We’re constantly being told that new is better. We need to reinvent, reconfigure, change the paradigm, break the unbroken and stay outside the proverbial box. Doing the same thing, or staying focused on the same objectives for any length of time is often considered unimaginative and unproductive. We’ve become so obsessed with innovation, that we’ve lost sight of the importance of consistency.

Remaining focused on something is difficult because, by definition, it means having the conviction and courage to tune other things out. It means staying the course, leaping the hurdles in front, and passing on things that aren’t directly in your path. The payoff to focus, if you are focused on the right things, can be tremendous. The consequence of not being focused: mediocrity.

Take, for example, a company who wants to make a name for themselves as a World-Class Customer Service organization. In order to achieve that, every part of the company has to be focused on it. The infrastructure has to be in place to ensure a seamlessly positive experience for their customers. Employees at all levels have to be genuinely trusted – allowed to use discretion to make decisions which can enhance a customer’s experience. They have to have training and clear direction to ensure consistency in service. And clear, positive, proactive protocols have to be in place for those times when things go wrong. The payoff is significantly higher customer loyalty, less consumer price sensitivity, and greater insulation against changes in the marketplace.

Companies that actually execute this, however, are rare indeed. We are much more likely to see employees being trained on building long-term customer relationships, but managers being bonused on short-term profit. Customers being told they are important, but placed in lengthy telephone queues when they want to talk with someone. Staff being told they are empowered, but discouraged to use their own judgment. The consequence, of course, is that customers see no clear distinction between this company and the competition. And when this happens, loyalty goes out the window. This is just one example of how a failure to focus can negatively impact a business. How many times have you seen a company introduce expensive and time consuming initiatives which are never followed up on or supported? How much has it cost the company in dollars, person hours or reputation?

Do you really want to achieve something in either your business or personal life? Stay focused on it! Don’t let short-term opportunities or roadblocks distract you. If you are focused on the right things, you won’t be disappointed!

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