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Thought Leaders Unpacked -> Clutch #1: Focus (Part 1)

thought-leadersAs I speculated in my post of October 28th, I have now indeed selected Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t by Paul Sullivan to read for our next Thought Leaders Unpacked™ series.

I have selected it for my own sake more than anything else. While I believe it holds great value for all of us who consider ourselves lifelong learners, I am looking forward to taking the spotlight of Sullivan’s insights and shining it on myself.

I’m not so concerned that I might not show up well against the characteristics of “clutch” performers as I am with my ability to be honest about where I need to learn and improve.

Chapter #1: Focus

As we dive into the first chapter on Focus, I am initially struck by Sullivan’s method of using a single story to explain what all his research on focus reveals. I suppose I expected multiple stories making the multiple points. Once I settled in with his style, I became absorbed with his content.

My first take-away came from distinguishing between focus and concentration. I would describe concentration as paying attention to one thing at the exclusion of everything else. She was concentrating so hard on her spreadsheet that she didn’t hear her phone ringing.

Focus, on the other hand, I would describe as paying attention to one thing and seeing everything else in its light. She would not approve the corporate retreat unless its benefit to improving the bottom line could be demonstrated.

Concentration is like putting on horse-racing side blinders. Focus is like putting on tinted glasses. In the one case you are choosing to see the one thing you’re looking at better. In the other case you are choosing to see everything in terms of how it relates to the one. Focus heightens one’s awareness to all the facts, while concentration blocks them out.

Moment of honesty… I did not like hearing that preparation is crucial to focus. First chapter of the book and I’m confronting a major personal character issue.

I like to go with the flow. Shoot from the hip. Be present in the moment. I dislike the discipline, monotony, and plain hard work that preparation requires.

The irony is that preparation would actually free me to be more present in the moment than I can currently be. It is the master of all the details who can muster the appropriate details when they are needed.

The challenge then becomes how to develop my skills as a preparer. I’m not going to fall in love overnight with sitting down and studying, organizing, investigating, and writing drafts for example.

I believe the underlying character qualities related to preparation which I need to develop are discipline and patience. I’m going to have to give some thought into how such skills are learned and honed.

Practice comes to mind. Practice in smaller, experimental chunks. We are naive to think that we can simply wake up and behave in a radically different manner than we have spent a career practicing.

How would you describe what role preparation plays in how you approach your work, conduct your meetings, or build your key relationships? What was your main take-away from this chapter?

I had too many personal take-aways from Chapter 1 for one blog post. Stay tuned for part two of my reflections on Focus.

Each week I post my reflections from one chapter of Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t by Paul Sullivan. My reflections are my own and are intended to generate conversation, catalyze additional thinking and encourage mutual learning.
If you are just joining the discussion now, welcome! Catch up on the entire series here.

One Response to “Thought Leaders Unpacked -> Clutch #1: Focus (Part 1)”

  1. Thought Leaders Unpacked -> Clutch #1: Focus (Part 2) » Bold Enterprises presents Working Matters Says:

    […] a great angle on a great image. If all that preparation (see last week’s post) does anything for us, it sets us free to be present in the game. Our minds are freed up to pay […]

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