The Danger of Becoming Too Focused
This is a guest post by Stephanie LeBlanc. Stephanie is the practice administrator at TotalCare Hulen in Fort Worth, Texas. She also holds other leadership positions including president of her accounting firm, as well as Project Connect Texas, a non-profit organization she founded to serve the Dallas/Fort Worth community.
- Wes Saade, M.D.
Focus. It’s an important part of our lives. And mastering the ability to focus on the task at hand plays a direct role in many of our successes. But is it possible to be too focused?
Can we ever become so focused that we miss something big?
Early on in my career as an accountant, I had a mentor who told me, “Never step over dollars to pick up pennies.” It took me a while to get what she meant, and even longer to apply it to my thinking. Naturally, we get started on something, or we get an idea, and we get focused into tunnel vision status.
In accounting, the main focus is usually on the bottom line. Do we cut costs or increase revenue? Which one will have the greatest impact on the bottom dollar? I got in the habit of making the assessment, and then all of my focus would go to that area to maximize the profit.
Is it possible to become too focused?
The ability to maintain focus and accomplish goals became my standard approach to all situations. I had never stopped to question this until recently. I sat with my daughter and about twenty strangers in a lobby waiting to be called back. My primary focus was on my three-year-old daughter. Making sure she was content and not bothersome to anyone around us was taking up my entire attention.
When I felt something bump my foot, I looked up to realize a blind man was trying to navigate the lobby to make it to the exit. And what I felt was his guide stick keeping him from running into me. I couldn’t believe that I had been so focused on my daughter that he had to literally bump into me for me to notice he needed help.
In life, as in leadership, we all have our own tasks and our primary areas of concentration. We can become so focused on what we have to do that we fail to see others who really need us. Sometimes it is much more challenging to notice when people need help than it was for me that day in the lobby. But there are people all around us who could use a little extra attention. Even when we are trying to concentrate on our tasks at hand, it is important that we make ourselves aware of others in our lives, whether they are our family and friends, or members of our team.
Leaders willingly adjust their focus to make time for others.
For me, the human aspect of leadership is one of the most important components. We must remember that at the end of the day we are all human—leaders, as well as team members. We all get stressed out, and will have too much on our plates, or will need emotional support at various points throughout this journey. The ability to observe others and assess whether or not they need help, support, or a listening ear is a remarkable quality for a leader to possess.
Our challenge in the busy lives we lead is not only to notice, but to give up a little of our own focus to help those around us.
Practice Administrator, TotalCare
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