Sunday, October 10, 2010

Focus Your Emphasis on Your Successes

“Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more successful.” ~Victor Hansen

As part of my job, I have talked to and counseled thousands of entrepreneurs. Once I have established a relationship with the entrepreneur, I walk them through the process of listing their successes and challenges to identify what we need to do to fix the business problem. Most often, they want to focus exclusively on their challenges and how they can overcome them.

For some reason, our challenges carry more weight in our lives than our successes. But if improvement is our goal, focusing solely on the challenges that stand in our way is not really the best method of getting there.

In the spiritual world there is a theory known as the Law of Attraction. The premise is that what you choose to focus on determines the things that come into your life. Honing in on the negative will produce negative effects, while reflecting on the positive will bring positive results.

Many probably remember “The Secret,” a very good DVD that came out a couple of years ago. This DVD covered the Law of Attraction and provided tons of examples and testimonials. Story after story was presented as proof of the Law’s primary assertion: focusing on the negative – your weakness – will only manifest as greater weakness.

I am a frequent speaker, and over the last 15 years, I have probably given more than 500 speeches. Additionally, as a professor, I have given lectures three times a week for the last 38 years. Clearly, public speaking is a critical element of my career, and you might be surprised to learn of a very large weakness of mine.

I have stuttered since I was three years old when my mother first took me to speech instruction to get help. I can remember times in high school when my stuttering was so bad that I could not even say the word “water.” I had to say “H2O” instead. To this day, my stuttering comes and goes depending on my stress level – stress dramatically affects my vocal cords.

From medication to speech therapy, I have tried a number of methods for controlling my stuttering. Only one thing has ever worked. The approach that produces the best results is focusing on times that I have been successful.

In years past, when I concentrated on trying not to stutter, it was worse than ever. I have adopted a different approach. Instead of focusing on my weakness, I think about how many speeches I have successfully given, or I visualize how great this speech is going to be. When I focus on my successes in this way, my speeches are normally great.

Many of the entrepreneurs we work with focus on their challenges, and of course, they generate more and more challenges as a result. One entrepreneur just wanted to talk about how poorly he understood financial statements. He was great at marketing and sales, but he did not acknowledge his strengths. He just went on and on about how he could not comprehend this element of his business.

The first thing we did was change his primary focus. Instead of honing in on the things he lacked, we focused on his strengths. This is not to say however, that we ignored his weakness. We got him set up with some great accounting help, but he came at it from a different angle, one where he focused on the things he did well.

Another entrepreneur we worked with was extremely skilled in systems implementation, but weak in the area of communications. When we focused on his strengths, his business improved dramatically, and we were able to solve the communication issue by hiring a communications director to handle the task he was not as good at.

Focusing on your strengths seems like such a simple concept, but it is one that we all tend to forget about. Most often, we dwell on our weaknesses, a practice that serves neither us nor our business.

Now go out and make sure that you are focusing on your strengths.

You can do this!

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