Who’s the most difficult person you ever had to lead? Maybe you immediately think about someone at work or a difficult customer. But you know that leadership isn’t about position or title, it’s about influence and you are doing that every day with a myriad of people. If you think about it that way, maybe it’s your teenage child in your home or possibly someone you encounter through volunteer effort. Or maybe it’s a neighbor who always resents your efforts in the community due to a differing political view. Any of those are legitimate contenders, but here’s where you didn’t go: you didn’t go to the mirror. And that’s a problem because the most difficult person to lead is usually you!
So why is it so difficult to lead ourselves?
Well, there are probably many answers to that question, but have you considered that it might be your lack of focus? Think about the volume of information that you are exposed to every day: hundreds of cable channels, virtually limitless access to topics of interest on podcasts and social media, more content on the internet than multiple lifetimes would allow you to uncover, instant access to people via text and email, and millions of books, magazines, blogs, etc. all at your fingertips. How do you manage the distractions?
Multitasking is a myth. Various studies have shown and concluded that your brain doesn’t effectively handle doing more than one thing at a time! It’s hard to disagree with the need to improve the ability to focus. Mike Erwin goes so far as to call this a competitive advantage in our world today.
So what is solitude? Mike defines it as “a subjective state of mind, in which the mind, isolated from input from other minds, works through a problem on its own.” It’s the reason why stepping away from a problem often brings a solution. Changing your environment can have a positive impact on your brain’s ability to process all of the information it has been digesting.
Mike Erwin’s Five Ways To Stay Focused:
- Build periods of solitude into your schedule
- Analyze where your time is best spent
- Starve your distractions
- Don’t be too busy to learn how to be less busy
- Create a “stop doing” list
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Lead Yourself First Jeff Boss interview with Mike Erwin in Forbes magazine
In a Distracted World, Solitude is a Competitive Advantage article in Harvard Business Review written by Mike Erwin
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Now, go lead like someone you would want to follow!