Friday, September 21, 2007


From Mark Sanborn's You Don't Need A Title To Be A Leader (a great title, by the way)....

Focus and determination beat brains and intellect every time. You don't necessarily have to be smarter or better educated to succeed. Your power lies in your ability to focus on doing what is important. If you focus on the right things, and work at them often, you will achieve exceptional results.

One of the most important qualities of effective leadership is focus. Without focus, it is impossible to move forward to achieve your goals. Effective leaders, whatever their title, are able to keep themselves and those around them on task. Those who lack focus in their personal lives and in their careers tend to drift...

In acting as a leader, you can handle just about everything that comes your way as long as you don't lose power and drift. Power, in this sense, is the ability to stay engaged in what is going on. It doesn't mean you have control over every situation, any more than a boat has control over the waves. Rather it is the ability to engage the situation with intent, with focus.

Drifting and waiting are two different things. Waiting is an intentional choice. It requires patience and deliberation. Drifting takes away your power of choice. When you wait, you believe that something will happen, although you may not know when. Instead of acting rashly or impetuously, you pause to gather information and seek insight. Drifting results from rudderlessness and lack of direction. When you drift, it doesn't even take a particularly large waves to capsize the boat.

It's all too easy to become distracted or lulled into complacency. Before you know it, you are drifting. A simple lack of attention can cause you to lose the power of purpose and engagement. Instead of initiating action, you become paralyzed. Rather than acting, you find yourself acted upon.

According to the National Association of Professional Planners, the average American's desk has about fifty-two hours of unfinished work on it. A recent study of knowledge workers found that they face a distraction every eleven minutes on average, and that once distracted, it takes them twenty-five minutes to get back to the task at hand. According to a study conducted at the University of Michigan in 2005, 20 to 40 percent of a worker's productivity is eaten up by "task switching" - that is, the time it takes to mentally reengage when shifting from one task to another.


A goal that I have for myself, and every person who is on the staff of CTK, is 50 minutes of productivity for every hour of work. Admittedly, this is a high level to shoot for. But I want to see us work smarter, not harder. I talk with some pastors who seem to boast about 70 hour weeks. I have to question their productivity in these hours. If you are 80% productive in a 40 hour week (32 hours of actual productivity), you are nearly as productive as someone who is 50% productive in a 70 hour week (35 hours of actual productivity).


It's not about the time you put in, it's about what you put in the time. What can you do to eliminate drifting and distraction?

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