Leadership, State of Mind

Do you have Focus confused with Force?

Think on that for a while, I hope by the end of this little story you might have a different answer to what you initially thought. 🤔

❓This question came up for me recently while I was working with a client, let’s call him Steve. Steve wanted to improve his results selling his services. He knew he’d reached a proverbial:” glass ceiling” and wanted my help to get him through it.

⚽️He had a pretty clear idea of what was wrong, and he came to all his initial conversations with me open to change. (Always a good sign)

Within a couple of calls, I found out that Steve was feeling very frustrated,😤and down on himself 😭 about his performance at work. He was also feeling bad about not wanting to celebrate his colleagues wins because he was experiencing jealousy. 🤢

As he describes a typical day for me, I noticed that there was a running theme. 🏃🏼‍♂️

🏋🏻‍♂️Steve was burdened by his high expectations of himself. He felt unhappy yo-yoing between wanting to quit his job or gritting his teeth and “trying to make it work” 

I knew that feeling well.

But this wasn’t the real issue. On top of this, he got the idea into his head that he should be very serious 😡 at work so that he could hit his targets.

“It’s all about focus,” he said as he showed me a black and white image on the screen of his phone.

“You seem very tense and serious when you talk about your job,” I said to Steve, “Well of course I am, I need to make improvements.” “ Who said that being serious was the solution to making improvements?” He was quiet for quite a while.

“Well, that’s just what it takes, it takes Focus and seriousness to get the results you want.”

“Interesting. Tell me how is that approach working out for you?”

“ It isn’t.”

I asked for Steve’s help in finding him a better approach, I wanted him to see that being serious was not the solution, it was, in fact, the problem.

“Tell me about a hobby or sport that you love the most?”

“Football, definitely football,” he said enthusiastically. This was the happiest I had ever seen him.

“I was always a great footballer growing up, I was always picked first”. “Great. Let’s work with that.” I said.

“Tell me when you played football, were you any good?” 

“ Yes, I was a pretty talented kid, although I had a big ego and thought that I was the finished product by age 15.”

“Not to worry about that, tell me about how it felt when you were on top of your game, and in the zone?” “ It felt great like I was at one with the game.” 

“Yes, that feeling. Where you very serious in those moments?” NO WAY, I was having fun, I was having so much fun. It was the only time in my life where I didn’t feel stressed or unhappy.”

“Tell me, was there ever a time when you were serious when you played?”

“Yes, one time when I had injured myself I didn’t tell my manager and played anyway. I was angry that the whole time because I wasn’t able to play at my best. I ended up getting into a bad tackle and because I was so tense I badly injured myself and wasn’t able to play for a long time.

It was that injury that took me out of playing football.”

I let these facts sink in.

Can you see how the approach steve was using at work was creating the opposite of what he wanted? His success in the past was always a result of being in flow and having fun. And his failure, (at the same skillset) was a result of tension and seriousness.

Give me a Serious emoji in the comments below if you ever do this?

I sure did.

Steve was beginning to realise that his approach was not useful. “Would you like to make your career more like a fun game of football?” “ Instead of shaming yourself, comparing yourself and placing high expectations on yourself all day?”

“And this idea of serious and focussed. I think you have Focus confused with Force.”

“You know the saying, don’t force it, you’ll break it! Well, that’s what you’re doing with your spirits every time you approach works like this. You’re breaking your spirits. Like a beaten up dog with an angry owner.”

Steve was beginning to see it, over the next few weeks, he turned everything around. Instead of looking at a list of hundreds of stressful calls, we created a fun way of inviting just one person into a conversation. Imagining he was inviting them to have a relaxing chat inside a nice hot tub at the spa.

We looked at all of the other expectations he was carrying around and created new agreements to replace them. And finally, instead of FORCE, he chose Light Focus as his go-to approach.

Magically he started to select similar clients. No more abrupt and passive clients. His voice was different now, they could feel the joy in it.

This approach was a game-changer for Steve, as he continues to deepen into his new approach and relax more into a play-fullness at his job.

What about you, Do you have Force confused with Focus?

Are you serious or playful about your chosen work?

Just For Today: How could you use this distinction to bring a more playful, light focus approach to your day?

Give me a sports emoji in the comments below if you are up for playing a game with life too?