Why Staying Focus Can Kill You?

Good things happen to those who don’t wait, but deliver on a due date. How many times did you hear “need to stay focused”?

Let me totally destroy and obliterate this platitude. I will then have something positive to say about being focused, with caveats in the end.

There are other related notions to being focused, but none positive: fixation, tunnel vision, inflexibility.

Try crossing the street staying focused on the green light. Sooner or later either a car will hit you or a bicyclist or you simply stumble over something.

A psychiatrist will tell you that some mental illnesses begin with an intense focus on something, like own greatness or an idea-fix.

If one is focused on a distant goal, he may miss low hanging fruit on the way there. If you reach for the stars, you may miss something right in front of your nose, good or bad.

So is focus bad ?

The truth is complicated as usual.

The focus is good when applied to a goal or a strategy, not on tactics to get there. Even then, the key is staying focused on a goal without being blinded by it.

We have to be firm with our goals but flexible in our approach.

Be a post stamp, stick to your goals until you get there.

But if you stick to your tactics and approach, sooner or later you will be run over by reality like by a truck.

I think the platitude “stay focused” is as bad as “it is what it is” because it stops a potentially productive conversation. Worse, it is a thought stopping platitude. Once something like this is pronounced, a conversation and a thought dies.

There are many times, of course, when focus is critical, for example, when you have a deadline, an exam or an emergency situation. When a computer system is down the focus should be on restoring service as quickly as possible. Even then someone needs to provide ETAs and communication to the outside of the group. But if you work in a place driven totally by deadlines and emergencies, something is really off.

If you are a boss that drives everyone by deadline, you may want to rethink your approach. Managing by deadlines leads to over-focus on short term deliverables.

Everything needs to be in moderation, even moderation itself. Life is a balancing act. Too much focus or too little of it is bad.

The truth is always somewhere in between.

I do hate platitudes. While I have your attention, here is another one I dislike – good things happen to the people who wait.

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