As leaders, many of us have a dizzying array of responsibilities, expectations, plans and distractions. That is unlikely to change. Assuming you have delegated where you can, the question becomes how to maintain your balance in the midst of the whirlwind of urgent and important situations vying for your attention? How is it that some leaders appear calm, cool and collected in managing the on-slaught, while others seem to stagger from one crisis to the next? Maybe the first group are better spotters.
Although I was never a ballerina (cute tutu-clad pictures from my youth not-with-standing), the reason seasoned dancers can spin repeatedly without getting dizzy is a technique called spotting, where they keep their eyes focused on the same spot for as long as possible and refocus on that spot with each rotation.
Where are your eyes focused as a leader? On the fourteen different things clamoring for your attention, or the overarching vision that ties everything together? Honing in on a singular, unifying focus can bring a surprising sense of balance. There may be a swirl of activities that contribute to achieving a stated goal, but in your mind’s eye that single point of focus can keep you from getting dizzy.
The trick is to identify the single spot on which you are going to focus, which of course is easier said than done. As Oliver Wendell Holmes noted, “I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity; but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” In the leadership journey, many of us get stuck in the complexity phase, never making it through to the simplicity . . . the single point of focus . . . on the other side. If you feel stuck in the complexity, maybe it’s time to find your spot.
Finding your spot requires stepping back and asking why you are doing what you are doing? What is the common thread? It may be hard to see in the swirl of the day-to-day, because our to-do lists tend to focus on the what, not the why . . . and yet it is the why that allows us to maintain our balance. Take the time to find the why, the spot, that connects the things (or at least most of the things) vying for your attention.
I’m not suggesting that identifying a single point of focus is going to reduce the number of things on your to-do list. I am suggesting that when you realize all of your activities are pushing you toward a singular goal, instead of pulling you in fourteen different directions, those tasks become energizing rather than making you dizzy.
Find your spot.