What You Focus on Expands
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How are you doing at the moment? I know so many teams operating at reduced capacity due to people contracting covid or the other flu bugs floating around just now.
News reports of burnout and stress are on the rise and leaders I speak to are still trying to convince their people to reboot their attitudes after years of lockdowns. Trying to reignite the enthusiasm within their teams to have their people spend their days doing impactful work, instead of allowing work to be something they try to fit in around the rest of their lives.
This is where the power of attitude can make a huge difference. You may have heard ‘what you focus on expands’. If you choose to use this principle, you can create an empowered life, where things flow freely. If you choose to ignore it, you could be one of those people feeling heavy, feeling like they are on the edge of burnout, and fighting just to keep their chins above water.
Do you spend your days focusing on your problems and all the things that feel heavy about your job, your team or your manager? Do you hold on to all the things that should be done but aren’t yet? Do get annoyed when others don’t do things the way you want them done?
John C Maxwell said ‘there is a world of difference between a person who has a big problem, and a person who makes a problem big’.
Don’t be one of those people who take something and make it a big problem.
A study of three hundred highly successful people, people like Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein etc, found that three fourths had either come from poverty or some other disturbing background. They found that one fourth had handicaps such as blindness, dyslexia or some other hardship. But these people were able to overcome their obstacles by refusing to hold onto the common excuses for failure. They refused to focus on their challenges, instead finding ways to carry on towards their goals.
They refused to let their circumstances define them. They realised they couldn’t determine every circumstance in life, but they could determine their attitude toward whatever happened to them.
You may be tempted to think of them as special, to think ‘well that’s okay for them – they were household names and obvious geniuses’. But they weren’t born that way. They were born just as special and unique as yourself. And by thinking they have something you don’t, you rob yourself of your very own superpower – that is your right and ability to choose your attitude, to chose what you focus on, to decide what gets the best of your attention throughout your day.
This is a superpower that gets stronger the more you use it – and it will change your life if you let it!
In my workshops on Self Mastery, we often explore a simple equation for life given by T Harv Eker:
E + R = O.
He says our life can be summed up to a series of Outcomes (O). These include things like our relationships, our jobs, where we live, the health or lack of that we enjoy on a daily or weekly basis etc.
Our Outcomes are determined by Events (E) – the things that happen to us in our lives and our Reaction or Response to those Events. Given the events of our lives are mostly outside of our control, the main access we have to improving or changing the Outcome of our life is in our Reaction to situations or circumstances.
Our access to power is on choosing to focus on what matters – putting our attention on the solution and what we want to happen, not on what is getting in our way.
Let me give you an example:
Your phone rings and a customer is yelling at you. They are angry that something the company promise them hasn’t happened (Event). Do you take offence, defend your honour, pass the blame to the other department who has obviously made a mistake and hang up from the call flustered, frustrated and feeling generally really crappy?
Or, do you take responsibility, empathise with them and offer an apology, commit to investigating what has happened so you can make sure it doesn’t happen again and hang up the phone having calmed the customer down, and taken control of the situation feeling empowered and enabled to make a positive difference?
This is the power of mindset, the impact of choosing to focus on the positive and find solutions to move forward through any event. It is the only flexibility we have in the equation of our life – the only input we can truly control that will help determine our outcomes.
Imagine half of your team is out with covid or other flu bugs and your team deadlines are in jeopardy.
Do you freak out, complain to anyone who will listen that it is not fair, and that you are doing too much. Do you work too hard and burnout yourself, succumbing to the next bug and weakening your team even further? Or do you take the opportunity to check in with your key clients. Explaining the situation, renegotiating deadlines and taking the time to pause and deepen your relationships by asking them what’s working well, what isn’t and what you could do as a service provider to better serve them? Do you spend time checking in with them and learning more about their business, their pain points and how you can better partner with them?
Can you see how by focusing on different things, the outcome you generate is markedly different?
What can you do during these winter months to ensure that you are the leader that continues to focus on the positive for yourself and your team? Some of my favourite mental pick me ups include a regular A, B, C practice:
1) Affirmations – these can be any empowering thought or statement that helps you refocus and feel good. Repetition is the key here. Use your affirmations to constantly change the directions of your thoughts when you find yourself being caught in a negative thought spiral. Cant think of anything empowering? Google it and choose a statement that gives your body a warm solid feeling of total ‘CAN DO’ attitude.
2) Breathing – pause from the business of the day and take 3-10 deep belly breaths – breathing in relaxation as your stomach expands, breathing out stress and anything that no longer serves as you relax your abdomen back to your spine. Breathing for longer on the out breath signals the parasympathetic nervous system to calm your whole mind-body and is one of the quickest and most powerful ways I know of to restore mental clarity and high quality thinking.
3) Clarify your goal – get clear on what it is you want out of a situation – your job, your relationship, your health and wellbeing etc. Write out what you want stated as a simple paragraph that is positively worded. Keep it handy throughout the day, reading it in the morning and again at night, as well as whenever you feel yourself feeling low or stressed. This is a powerful way to prime your brain to focus on what you want and you will be amazed at how many opportunities you will find throughout the day to take action towards your goal that you may have otherwise missed due to not being focused on what you want.
These simple A, B, C techniques are free of charge, simple to incorporate into your day, and easy to remember techniques to help you maintain high quality thinking so that you can continue to focus on what you want. The key is to use them everyday. Don’t let yourself be one of those people who make everything a problem. Instead, remember that what you focus on expands, and put your energy and attention on what you want, on the life and relationships you wish to create and you will find yourself generating an empowered, fulfilling life for yourself and everyone around you.
What are you favourite ways to stay empowered when life may get you down?