What’s the difference between a laser and a light bulb? Focus.
We talked about the superiority of a system over a goal. Next we explored how effort provides the fuel for our system. Focus, the third and final component, ensures that we stay on the right course and maximize the value of our effort.
The best military organizations recognize the value of focus and give it priority in planning operations. First, the “MISSION”, a single statement that includes the basics of who, what, where, when and why of the action to follow. The mission gives us tangible action within a system. Second, the “COMMANDERS INTENT”, written as a follow up to the mission, a simple statement of the desired end state, the larger purpose of the mission in the campaign. The Commander’s Intent connects and frames our actions into an overarching purpose of what our actions are intended to accomplish. Purpose creates focus for us to reassess, adjust and realign our system and effort when circumstances change, we suffer setback or the wheels come off the train.
Let’s put this in personal terms and borrow the “Golden Rings” from the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek. Picture three concentric rings, going from the outside in, what, how, and why. “What” do we do; we lift weights, perform gymnastics, run row and jump rope at high intensity, with constantly varied in a group environment with professional coaching. “How”: We train as athletes to build capacity and capability; build muscle, burn fat and develop coordination, stamina and endurance. But what keeps us on the rails? That inner core of why; we want to develop a level of fitness, health and vitality that is obvious to us and others and that every day we are better and more resilient than the day before.
Having trouble getting out of bed for the early workout, remember your why. Are you down because you’re not going as heavy as the athlete next to you, remember your why. Are you wrapped up in that text that might be on your phone during the workout, remember your why. Not sure if you want that late night ice cream, remember you why. Ever see a CF workout at a military hospital, now that’s somebody with a why. Tap into your desire for something better, tap into that fire for your motivation.
By constantly gauging our success from our why, we can ensure we stay on track and at full speed. Is my system getting me the results I want? Am I putting the appropriate effort in the system to get the results I want? The unprepared and the lazy blame luck but, we know better. We make our own luck, with intent and passion we make better decisions more often and discover that wisdom and discipline are very purposefully developed habits of focus in pursuit of our “why”.