You think that being in business is really tough. The markets always fluctuate, your competitors are unrelenting, customers are always fickle and the sheer grind of keeping going, day after day, week after week, just wears you down. You lose the will to do it and then all that keeps you going is the fact that you have nowhere else to go.
Now, I have run 800m sprints and I know the pain that comes when muscles scream for respite and you simply do not let up because all you can hear is the slap-slap-slap of feet chasing you. When you get past the 400m mark your lungs are burning and your legs are tired and you still have 400m to go. The difference then between who comes first and who comes last rests on a simple question: How bad do you want it?
At that point there is nothing easy and nothing simple, or rather the ‘easy’ and ‘simple’ things you can do require you to stop and give up. When you’re in a race you simply cannot do that. Your head and your heart know why you’re there because you have had that talk with yourself already, so the only thing you can do is stay focused because focus is the only thing keeping you together.
If your focus is there, mistakes can be overcome, the pain of keeping going can be forgotten and your performance can turn from average into sublime. For US runner, Heather Dorniden, focus was what got her up from a fall in a moment when no mistakes can be made. In the 2008 Indoor Track Championships in Minnesota, she did the impossible, trailing 30 metres in a 200m sprint. The video shows the moment:
How Do You Not Lose Your Focus in Business?
Business of course is not quite like a 600m race, but I could argue that the margins for error are greater and there is no burning in your lungs and screaming muscles in your legs begging you to stop. Yes, the going can be tough and the pace relentless but you also have the luxury of taking a step back, analysing, regrouping your resources and moving forward again.
All that’s needed is the clear vision in your head of why you do what is required and the willpower to maintain the focus you need. Here’s a list of how you maintain it:
01. Start the day with something positive. There are a myriad things clamouring for your attention. There are mistakes you made which need to be set right and problems arising which will need to be dealt with. Start with something you did well. Recapture a sense of achievement in what you do before you get back into the fray.
02. Set yourself specific tasks. In her post race interview Heather Dorniden said she had no idea how she was doing. She got up and simply “wanted to finish the race”, then she heard on the loudspeakers that she was coming up the track and that simply made her run harder.
03. Be prepared to be your best at what you do. Had not Heather Dorniden worked really hard to prepare for the race she would have never been there in the first place, never mind been capable of pulling off that performance.
04. Do not give up. This is a cardinal rule. As Rocky says, “it ain’t over, ‘till it’s over.”