The Importance of Focus in 2021

Set goalsThe New Year is upon on us and no one is complaining. We are looking ahead to an economic and personal recovery. A healthier time, where favorite activities can be resumed and we can get rid of masks; to when we can hug each other again! For business, it is a time of renewal—even for those of you who achieved record years. The world has experienced a significant disruption—in its values, capabilities and use of technology—and as we formulate our future, we know it will bring more change. We can’t ignore the permanent imprint this year has left on all of us and our organizations, and the resulting changes it brings in values, expectations, and needs. How will you respond in 2021? What will you do differently?

I am not a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions. They are almost always, by default, things that will not last. But I do find great value in setting goals. While your list of goals is probably long, I encourage you to find focus. You WILL accomplish what you focus on—but only if you can truly focus. Focus means having a few important goals, that inspire innovation, to which you apply your resources, and for which you create supporting tactical plans. Fewer, more important goals is the key to driving significant improvement that makes a difference—to you, to those around you and to your customers. Think bigger and expect more. Ask what is possible not what is easy. But be specific so you can actually measure success.

Focused Goal Setting

Establish one clear, strategic and obtainable goal that will have a significant impact for each of these critical areas:

  1. Your Business: Growth goals are going to have a higher overall return than profit or operating goals—by a margin of about 5 to 1. It is why even in down times I encourage you to think about growth—it is the driver of your future. There has never been a better time to challenge yourselves to rethink, potentially pivot, and extend your business. Some of you may be contemplating changing up your offer—addressing needs for more security and peace of mind for customers after last year yielded so much uncertainty. Or perhaps you plan to add a digital arm of selling or communicating. Or, like so many businesses that thrive, you redefine and focus on a more targeted customer base that will partner and grow with you. There are many options but notice none of them talk about generic stuff like “more sales” or tactical stuff like “marketing flyers”. The first, “more sales”, should be the outcome of your goal and the tactical activities may be one of many things that are part of the plan to achieve your goal. Pick the one that will best resonate with your customers—not the thing they ask for the most necessarily, but the thing that will help them the most. Center it around meeting their needs and you will achieve more impact, resulting in a better opportunity to create sustainable growth.
  2. Your Leadership: Looking back to 2020, you defined and maybe reinvented yourself as a leader. We all were stretched and challenged in ways we have never been before. What did you like and not like about what you “see” in that review? Moving forward, what does your organization need most from you as a leader? More communication? A greater sense of purpose? A stronger culture? Hint: In my experience, if I had to pick one thing that would have a transformative impact for most organizations, it would be to better engage employees in contributing value through more, better, and interactive communication. The reason? By increasing engagement, you increase bandwidth—of innovation and productivity—and it serves as a multiplier for business results. It can’t be achieved without continual communication. So, in my book (literally and figuratively), communication that motivates is job #1 of every leader.
  3. Your Personal Life: I learned a long time ago that who you are at work is a function of who you are —period. It is hard to be positive, motivating, and collaborative if you are not authentic or emotionally balanced. Set a goal that focuses on your family time, your hobbies, your spiritual inspiration, your career or your health. They are all important; so, ask yourself what would most impact your overall mental and physical health. If you are not doing what you enjoy or enjoying what you do, is it time for a personal change?

For those of you who know me, I am a pretty private person. My messages mainly focus on helping you improve your businesses and leadership. But sometimes I need to take a page out of my own playbook and when I do, I have usually reaped big rewards. So, I am putting my goals out there to cement my commitment to them. Here are my major goals for 2021:

1. Business: Serve on at least one corporate board by the end of 2021.

2. Leadership: Develop a virtual program for communicating more regularly and providing more insights and value to “the tribe”—those of you who are receiving and actively engaging with us through weekly emails which share ideas and new tools, along with questions to challenge thinking, (If you are not part of the weekly exchange but are interested in being part of this group, let us know.) Contact us.

3. Personal: Grow in my faith and follow where that leads me. I have recently undertaken two specific projects and expect to be directed to others throughout the year.

Happy New Year!


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