I am an avid photographer, and when taking pictures I am focused on focus. Without focus, the shot is a bust. What do I want in focus? and What do I want out of focus? are questions I ask. A wide aperture provides minimal depth of field (only a small portion of what is in the frame is in focus). This is great for portraits where you want a fuzzy background and the subject is in sharp, crisp focus. A narrow aperture provides the greatest depth of field (nearly everything in the frame is in focus). This is great for architecture and landscapes.
Focus is essential for photographers and leaders. Here are four ways it can help you lead:
1. Focus narrows our vision
Just like using a magnifying glass to focus sunlight to start a fire, you can narrow your vision to a single task. It’s easy for leaders to get distracted by their long to-do lists or the concerns of others. How do you tune out these distractions and narrow your vision, so that you can accomplish a task?
2. Focus can keep you safe
Some drivers pull over during a snow storm or refuse to go out at all. Others don’t let the falling snow distract them. They are able to shift their focus from the road to the white line on the edge of the road. The white line keeps them on the right side of the road and out of the ditch. What is your “white line” at work?
3. Focus can concentrate your energy
We have all heard the story of the man/woman who lifts a heavy object (like a car or a tree limb) to save someone in grave danger. The rush of adrenaline and other hormones can create a tremendous, concentrated burst of energy. Great Olympic weightlifters have the ability to summon this strength and energy at will. How are you able to generate and channel bursts of energy?
4. Focus can help you listen better
Listening is probably the single greatest characteristic of a great leader. If you’re listening closely to what is being said and how it is being said, you will be present in the conversation. You will be leading well, instead of thinking of yourself and what you want to say next. Under what circumstances are you the best listener/leader?