Divide & Conquer Series #3: Focus Like A Mutha

It took me until I was in my late 40’s to understand the importance of focus.

In a day when we have cell phones tethered to our being and an email Inbox that never stops dinging, focus is not easy to master.

But it’s really the only way anything of substance is created and maintained, from business plans, to marketing strategies, to blog posts.

I’ve had friends and clients over the years that can’t quite get a handle on this focus thing.  They want to be all things to all people.

They think that by offering a broad selection of product they’ll swamp the market, when in reality they’re diluting their message and impact to the point that no one really cares.

Focus is hard.  Sometimes, focus seems impossible.  I know.  I’ve been there (and still struggle with it).

You need a mantra.  A daily question to ask yourself in order to keep you on the right track:

What Will I Say NO To, Today?

Focus means that something has to give. Some things that you’d really like to do, or take care of, or help with, must fall away.

It almost always means saying NO to someone you care about.

But until you start saying NO, you’ll never have the focus you need for the big success you dream about.  You may end up with a handful of small successes, but not one of them will have any long-term impact.

I know, I know – it’s hard at first, but it definitely gets easier the more you do it.  That’s because every time you do say it, your load gets just a little bit lighter. And you get a little less angry with yourself.  And a little less depressed.

EXERCISE: Sit down and make a list of all the demands on your time and energy – home, family, business, staff, friends, organizations.  Take 3 of those demands and say NO – not just to yourself, but out loud to the person who needs to hear it.

Then be bold and write down how it made you feel in the Comments section below. Does your load feel a little lighter already?

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8 Responses to “Divide & Conquer Series #3: Focus Like A Mutha”

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  1. I know this to be true. Focus is not easy to master. There’s always something or someone pulling at our attention. And yes…I do believe it is the only way substance is created and maintained. The clarity of that end result is why it is so worth it to say yes to it…and no to all the other stuff. Thanks Michele.

  2. Thanks for adding your wisdom, Monica. As a visual artist, you know more than anyone how important focus is both for creativity and productivity. I look to you for inspiration. :-)

  3. katbron says:

    Thanks Michele – good post. I was complaining last week about my lack of organization and focus – and this week I’ve been hit daily with different “how to” in my inbox. Yours was the first I read today and I needed to read it. I’m getting focused and preparing to say “no” – thanks again.

  4. Vi Wickam says:

    Excellent post! I first heard this message when I was a young teen, and it is a constant struggle to stay focused and on target. Thank you for this poignant reminder!

  5. Al Justice says:

    This gem, is, everything! Now, how will I share it with my students.

  6. If you’re wondering how to share it with your students, Al, you can always print out the post and give them a copy to read.

  7. zee says:

    Focus — exactly what we need today! I’m online all day marketing, blogging, doing research for an eco-clothing company. A lot of things demand my attention and sometimes, I don’t even know if multi-tasking is a good thing! Yes, you are able to do many things, but then most of the time you tend to get off focus! Im definitely following your advice — will sit down and list down the things that demand my time and energy, and decide which ones to say no to, and which ones to really focus on. Thanks, great post!


  1. […] fear, but focus, focus, focus on whatever it is you’re doing at the moment, give that your focus. You hear me talk a lot and I write about it a lot, that has just become so important to me. It took me until I was 45 to figure it out before the quality of life is improved greatly, and […]

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