The Paradox of Focus

by Tanya Geisler on · 10 comments

I'm going to be honest. December is historically my slowest month in terms of client sessions. (That's honest, yes, but that's not my confession). So, to make good use of the space created in that time, I had fabulous intentions to map out 2012 in a truly powerful way during the month. Well, I did set some excellent goals, shared them with the world (or at least, my corner of the world), then…oof. (Annnnnnd, here's the confession). Instead of strategizing and scheming, I baked and decorated. I shopped and sang. I cooked and visited. I hosted and wrapped. And it was bliss.

Regrets = 0. Memories = ~ 1,000.

I'm rested, recharged, and raring to go in my business. It's already been a wildly fruitful couple of weeks.

So as I have been refocusing, it's not surprising that my entrepreneur clients are wanting the same. Over the past couple of weeks, they've been coming to session saying: I want to focus on focus.

YA BABY! Let's get started! Let's get specific! Let's clamp down!

Ah…but wait.

The paradox of focus, is that to be focused, we need step way, WAYYYYY back and take a meta-view of who we are and where we are going.

Who are you?

Who are you in this world? Your values will tell you. They are the bricks in the glorious and utterly unique house of you.

Knowing what your values are will help you to make soulful decisions for your business. {And soulful decisions generally translate to cash.}

I've written before about some values clarification tools that will help. Also notice who you admire and why. What do they stand for? Likely rooted in there are some of your values.

Once you've gained on your values, start to notice what might be missing for you right now.

Lean into the values that aren't being honoured in your business. Notice how exciting that feels. Pretty hard to not focus on something that feels exciting, non?

Where are you going?

If you don't know where you are heading, then you don't know which way to go.

This ain't rocket science (and yet…)

Get clear on your vision . What do you want for your business? What feelings do you want to experience? What is your dream for your business? Get as granular as you like (say, a vision for your products or services, your employee relations, your community contribution, etc). Whatever works for you.

Create a vision statement, a vision board, a manifesto…SOMETHING to keep your vision top of mind.

Now your action is intentional and keeps you pointed in the right direction.

So we're fired up, we have our vision. It's completely aligned with our values and we know where we're going. We are stoked and ready to try it all! So many shiny things…where to start?!!


Action and motivation are like two buddies egging each other on at a frat house kegger. Being in action is motivating and this motivation stimulates the urge for action. We surf this powerful momentum and pile on the action because it's all so tasty: new opportunities, new partners, new projects, oh my!

And THEN?????

OOPS happens

Like another 4-letter word, it is messy stuff. OOPS = over-operational planning syndrome.

Our momentum takes a nosedive. Action and motivation part ways to down some aspirin and snore off the effects of the kegger.

Call it the Dastardly Dip, call it what you will.

As a coach, my role is to be aware of that effect and help my clients to trim the wings before the nosedive.

Here's how.

Yes's and No's

Making room for your vision to flourish, you probably need to start saying "no". Most of us do. So you can say "yes" to the brightest possible version of your life and business.

Elegant in its simplicity. (And yet…)

You may choose to get rid of the ugly chair, to make space for the stunning one you've always wanted. Is that a partner? A product? A supplier?

You may need to say "no" to some customers. If you find that you are not giving the best of yourself, get curious about why. And know that your industry is too small for you to not be giving the best of yourself. It may well be them, or it may be you, but if there's not a fit, the outcomes will be dire. That = bad business.

Lovingly and supportively release them into the arms of a colleague who may be better suited to them. And spend that found energy on finding your RIGHT people, and having them find you. Motivation restored. Back to action. But what actions?

Decision-making Matrix

A while back, I was in a program with Pam Slim and Chris Guillebeau. I was introduced to another elegantly simple exercise. I've adapted it to suit my business and share (with permission) with my clients. Feel free to email me for a copy.

Draw a table. 6 columns by 6 rows. In the left hand column, list the projects that are sitting on your chest that may or may not want to get started. (Only consider projects that are in alignment with your values…but you knew that already, didn't you?)

Fill the next 5 columns with filters that work for you. I use Vision (how aligned with my vision is this project…see why vision is critical?) + Interest (how excited am I to tackle this project?) + Profitability (how much cash will it bring in?) – Effort (how much time and energy will it take?) = Grand Total. Swap/add filters as you like (Reach may be more important to you than Profitability).

Subjectively rate each project on a scale of 1-5 (5 being highest). This simple exercise is intended to get you clearer on what wants to happen in your business soonest. If you need to cut a project or two, pick the lowest. If you can only take on one right now, pick the highest. The rest can be put on a shelf with no remorse…you get to revisit them when the time's right. So that "no" can become a "not right now".

Buddy up

Holding a vision as big of yours is pretty weighty stuff. Who else can help you to hold it? A coach? Mastermind group? Accountability partner? Advisory Board? Assess your support network and consider how having someone else help you hold your vision will keep you on track.

You are one lean, mean, focused machine.

Vroom vroom, indeed.


by Tanya Geisler

Clarity. Action. Achievement. Joy. Tanya Geisler is a CTI-certified coach (a.k.a. "catalyst, not therapist") and speaker who believes that life is a grand production...and it's time for you to step into your starring role. And radiate. Right now.
Tanya Geisler
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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandra / Always Well Within January 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Just what I needed to hear today! I especially appreciated the section on vision. Think it’s time to get my crayons out and make a beautiful vision!
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Debbie @ Happy Maker January 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Very good Tanya. Focus and keep that vision. Dust off the dust and get rid of the junk! Great thought for the first of the year to regroup and power up for a wonderful new year.

Thanks and blessing to you,
Debbie @ Happy Maker´s Last Fabulous Post ..What You Can Do To Be Happy Right Now In Your RelationshipMy Profile


David Stevens January 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Thankyou Tanya,
Vision/Game Plan…..absolute musts in my book. Your Vision has to be crystal clear, yet simple enough not to become unmanagable. When that is in place, I find that working back from the end plan & filling in the blanks & benchmarking progess, becomes simpler and more exciting. Thankyou for sharing this.
be good to yourself
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Jody - Fit at 54 January 23, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I always need this Lance – I tend to go one way & then something catches me & I head the other! 😉 THX!
Jody – Fit at 54´s Last Fabulous Post ..Gratitude Monday & Giveaway Winner & GrandkidsMy Profile


Be January 25, 2012 at 3:30 am

OOPS = over-operational plan­ning syndrome…. lol I definitely have that!!
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rob white January 25, 2012 at 8:55 am

I love your paradox of Focus, Tanya. Indeed, to focus on the big picture requires seeing where ‘we have been our own problem’ in the past, and promising ourselves not to repeat those patterns anymore. We will be pleasantly startled to find that we are remarkably creative when we allow our natural ability to flow through us. I’ve learned to speak to my mind aloud and say “I know you love to live with unfinished business of past failures, but I cannot afford this luxury any longer. We are finished with the past. Pay full attention to what I am doing right now – focus!” 🙂
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Anna January 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Elegant in simplicity – this is my vision and I am inspired now to get my paints and crayons and express it in some real shapes:)
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sheila January 27, 2012 at 9:30 am

I don’t overwhelm myself either. The way I look at things is… if it gets done, it gets done. I have a short list of things that are more urgent like paying bills and money deadlines for the kids schooling, but really there is nothing that is that pressing for me, that I cannot go outside and spend a half hour looking at the stars. Plus, little breaks of time for me helps me to find my calm and do what I have to do. (if I feel like doing it, lol)
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Andrew Walker February 29, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Well yes, I agree with you there mate. You know, to stay focus on something is not an easy thing to do, that’s first. The other thing, even if you know about focus, when you don’t know how to do it right, it won’t be possible for you to be focused on something easily.
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