Thursday, September 20, 2018Canada's Leading Online Business Magazine

FOCUS: The Art of Knowing What You Think is Real

By Kevin Huhn

There is a stoppage in play. The players line up for a face-off. The referee steps in to drop the puck. I lean over the boards and yell at one of my players to shift positions. He moves over five feet. The puck drops, it is swatted backward and BAM! Just like that – the puck is on his stick. He controls it and moves it to a teammate to get a shot on net. Without hesitation, players on the bench look at me in bewilderment and say, “How did you know?”

Focus is an art.

When you focus you are giving your attention to a situation you have already envisioned. It is completely subjective to you. How you respond can create an opportunity. The problem is we decide that situations, like the example I shared, are flukes or just luck. The ancient philosopher, Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

My focus in hockey takes place in my mind. I believe a situation can play out a certain way when the opportunity arises. I know this because I see it in my mind to be real. One of my values is caring for others. I want to make sure they are okay. So my role is to remove obstacles or put them in position to succeed, so they can deliver and succeed.

In business, focus is usually synonymous with positions with high degrees of skill or importance in a company. The reality is focus is in all of us. And with preparation and awareness, you too can create the “luck” you want to experience.

Pay Attention

To even begin to focus you need to be present in the moment and aware of what is going on around you. Imagine being in a business that is old-fashioned in its fundamental working – a serviced-based business that relies strictly on brute force manual labour to deliver its service. That is the world of AMJ Campbell Van Lines, Canada’s Largest Mover.

Moving furniture, cabinets, boxes and appliances from a home or office to another, does not require much more than physical labour. So what is there to focus on, to stay relevant in a technologically advanced marketplace?

Bruce Bowser, CEO of AMJ Campbell Van Lines and co-author of the book, The Focus Effect: Change Your Work, Change Your Life, shared with me keys to success in today’s world for any business leader to enhance their Focus.

Relating to Employees

“Distraction is an epidemic,” he started with. “My role as the business leader is less about squeezing more productivity out of my people and more about creating a world where AMJ Campbell employees are healthier and leading happier lives which ultimately makes for a more productive employee.” Paying attention started with:

1. Do Not Waste Your Time: His calculation of time spent on unsolicited emails was 80 hours a year, just checking and responding to say, no thank you.

2. Intentional Living: His incorporating different lifestyle choices, like morning routines, exercise, meditation, day planning and eating regimes empowered him to be more focused.

Relating to Clients and Suppliers

“Years ago my belief was to respond to each voicemail I got within a day. Now with the advent of digital media and technology, there is no way I could keep up,” Bruce shared. “I had to learn new manners, for myself.”

It has become common knowledge that we are in a time of instantaneous gratification. “Today’s consumers are not interested in waiting,” he said. “Their expectations are instant and on-demand. As a moving company, our standard 14-day timeline to get their belongings from Toronto to Calgary does not suffice. We had to provide a solution that would deliver in under a week.”

Preparation Meets Opportunity

Taking a business to the next level always requires a strategic approach and the implementation of technology that differ from what brought on the current success. Opportunity will knock. But are you prepared?

The fundamental component to ensure preparedness is focus. And in order to focus we learned earlier, that you must have attention.

“I am a big fan of technology like predictive analytics and apps. As a group, our managers across the country brainstorm constantly. Recently we invented a special container for small shipments and will be launching our new app shortly.” Bruce said the biggest problem he sees facing executives in Canada today is their inability to adapt to change. “Some executives are not willing to look at things like: Artificial Intelligence and analytics. Far too often I find them wrapped up in day to day meaningless tasks. It’s what we don’t know that will disrupt our business.”

Now add the speed to which information can be accessed. The current generation has far more knowledge than the previous generation ever had. This is mainly due to the advent of the internet and handheld computers. In Canada, we are seeing more and more companies operate 24/7. They may not be open to the public, but staff is over indulgent on technological tools being distracted by notifications, responding to task requests and inquiries. “People are burning out from job dissatisfaction faster than ever,” he added. “I’ve come to be more aware about the importance of focused attention with my hobby of flying planes. I have a checklist. I have a plan. I must be totally focused on what I am doing so there is no room for emails or checking phones,” Bruce described. “This is exactly what is missing in the workplace. People are not focused on one task long enough to make progress.”

Another important area to prepare is reputation. “C Suite executives today, need to focus on their own personal reputation. AMJ Campbell is what I do, but my personal brand is about being an innovative creator and industry leader.”

There is an old adage that says your reputation walks in the room before you do. Bruce’s final words were, “Your focus in your business is to do what you say you will do. Your focus on your personal brand needs to be on who you are.”

Kevin Huhn is the Founder of Be Your Best Today and through its mission helps small to medium-sized businesses clarify their message, increase visibility and generate more sales. To learn more visit beyourbesttoday.ca.

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