How leaders stay focused

building reality is the joy of leadership

Photo by Eddie Kopp


There are lots of gadgets and apps that promise to keep you on target and focused.  I have looked at sleep monitors, clever watches and mobile apps and each one has a seductive story offering benefits from a rested mind to alerts to keep you alert.

We are becoming a race who want to outsource everything, even the most natural biological sequences in our lives, like sleep.  The one thing all of these tools have in common is structure.  They impose discipline and reward you with analysis.  We are all becoming data junkies, curious about the percentage changes in our behaviour, steps, weight, heart rate or sleep patterns.

Throw out the Gadgets – they are not the answer.  They are nice presents that provide us with an amusing distraction for a few hours.

Leaders stay focused by engaging in work that cannot be outsourced.


Firstly, every great leader who I have worked with, or studied, has had a mission to fulfil, a vision of what they planned to do to change the world around them.  They engage in purposeful dreaming and become obsessed with solving the problems presented by their dream.

Think of Elon Musk and his obsession with electric cars and his fight against the petrol-chemical-auto-industry, not to mention changing the minds of thousands of consumers.  Now, Mars seems possible.

Or the obsession Steve Jobs showed in his vision for Apple to simplify the user experience.


What turns dreaming into visioning?


Visioning is the result of examining the obstacles and problems that stand in your way and studying human nature and economics to see what it will take to turn your dream into a reality. Leaders don’t dwell on the joy of endless possibilities as dreamers do, leaders make bets and start the process of learning how to make their dream, their vision, a reality.

Secondly, they gather people around them who can share their vision and add to it by making it more believable and more granular.   Jonathan Ive is Apple’s Chief Design Officer; he helped Jobs turn ideas into some of the most coveted products of the last century.   Musk had Peter Carlsson by his side to build out a unique supply chain that had previously not existed.    Teams committed to the idea, and willing to bring their energies, time and imagination to bear on the problems that always proceed a dream’s transformation into reality, will prevail.

Thirdly, they structure their day loosely because they know that it is impossible to plan the transformation of a dream down to the last hour.  They set goals and divide their day into big chunks leaving time that will inevitably be filled with unforeseen problems and issues that need to be resolved.  They recognise they play the role of Chief Problem Solver; they have to be skilled at pulling the right people together, crystallising the problems and setting teams up to successful remove every roadblock they encounter.

In Summary, to stay focused, you must convert your dream into a vision. Then collect a team around you that can add more detail and intellect. Lastly, build a problem-solving machine that simply ploughs through each problem as it appears.



There is no better gadget than your mind; virtual reality is a joyful distraction;

……..building reality is the joy of leadership.

Abolish the myth of THEM

The tip for success in 2018.  

The myth of THEM leaves you believing you are separate from the problems you see in others. For 20 years, I have been a witness to, and party in, this delusional story that always begins with this sentiment, “When these people show better leadership we will be able to……….” this is what I call the myth of THEM.

Back in 1950 Albert Einstein had noticed the same behaviour and wrote these words in a letter to Robert S. Marcus. “A human being is part of the whole, called by us “universe,” limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness”.

Because we experience looking out upon the problem, we see it separated from us. I have noticed that the observers are often delighted with themselves for noticing the issues, which in turn reinforces the most seductive part of the delusion, It’s not me!

The question to ask after hearing the myth of THEM begin is;
What part do I play in all of this?

As Einstein posits, we are all connected in what we call the “universe”; therefore, we are all connected to the company where we have observed the challenges.

This leads to the irrefutable truth; there is no THEM there is just US.

Einstein goes on to warn that the delusion of separation is a prison that restricts our personal desires and limits us.

As a leader, you must free yourself from this prison by widening your circle of compassion to embrace all the people connected in your company and beyond. You must learn through personal awareness that the whole has more value and that the behaviours you see are, in part, created by you.

Your power to create change and build a better company begins when you tear down the delusion of THEM and take your place in US.

good luck in 2018


“The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are.”

― Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi 13th century