Focus Evaporation

by | Leadership, Thoughts

2019 Super Bowl was defined, at least in part, by distractions: a false start, a perfectly amid dropped pass, the noise of an obsessive home team’s fan base.

In a similar fashion, you and I are distracted by the illusion that we are all starting from the same place/point. If we validate this illusion we are penalized. We are penalized when we drop the ball and when the noise of others stifles our performance.


In leadership, distraction is determined to delay or destroy maximum performance. Automobile accidents are often brought on my distractions. We may be distracted by ourselves, or be distracted by others or events.

Distraction does not live in parking lots, dirt roads, or interstates. It thrives in cubicles, offices, and conferences. Distraction is determined to delay or destroy maximum performance. Distraction lives at the intersection of attention and performance. It looks like: a “pulling away”, an interrupting, focus-lost, concentration-collapse, and determination-dwindling.

We can minimize by taking these steps

1) View distractions as a tug of war taking place in your mind. Think about the thoughts you think; refuse to believe everything that you do think; understand that you are in control of your thoughts. Things do not have to stay the way they are. Your mind is a mold and hold vessel. However, it must hold “something”, it will not hold “nothing”. It is not enough to remove distractive thoughts; those thoughts must be replaced with focus, concentration, and determination. Removed thoughts will resurface if not replaced.

2)  Isolate what you can control: the environment where you choose to live and work, your accessibility to others, your flexibility in relation to the time you spend with others, the power that you choose to relinquish to technology, from what you cannot control. Examples of uncontrollable items include the weather, the choices of someone else, an illness, the speed at which another travels, etc.

3)  Plan your day according to your priorities. Some priorities have perceived mandates.  Bring discernment to consideration here. There can be events that are more powerful than these mandates: a family illness or death, a retirement event of a fellow employee, an unexpected opportunity, a weather occurrence.

4)  Celebrate incremental “finished-ness”. View your battles against distractions as those that must be won incrementally. For example, as an author, I have learned to celebrate the book title, an Introduction, the completion of the first chapter as victories.

5) Learn to think in terms of “Attention, About Face.” And “Forward March.” This will help you to battle distraction and focus more effectively. Let me close with a personal story. 

Do an about-face

In 1991, I was about to give a presentation. At that point in my career, I had given about a thousand presentations. Something bothered me. I would travel to give a speech, return home, and that was it. While in route, I was not using my time in the airplane, taxi, or hotel to accomplish something else.

That fact got my attention. I did an “about face and a forward march,” and promised myself that I would write a book a year for the rest of my life. To this date, I am on track, and I have written 27 books. Many of these books have been written while in an airplane, the Delta Crown Room, or in a hotel room.

Monitor the images your microphone is sending out. When needed, do an about-face in the area of intensity. You will move forward toward your goal.  Pay attention to this phrase: “About Face! Forward March!” If necessary, do a complete about-face, then move forward.

Music and color

This last factor is brief, but oh so powerful. The effect of claiming music and shades of colors in your work environment can be so helpful in determining your mood and productivity.

The State of Georgia passed a law to reduce distractions while driving a motor vehicle. This law is being taken very seriously. You can choose to create within yourself an internal mandate to reduce your distractions at work. You might also want to think about using this same principle in your home. 

You do not have to stay the way you are. 

Your past performance may not be indicative of your future results. You have the awesome power to “become”. You have a song to sing, a dance to dance, and something to do. Someone to appreciate. Someone to encourage.


Stephen is the best-selling author of 26 books, including What Do They See When They See You Coming? He has also written countless articles for a variety of publications and has produced multiple audio books and video programs. Stephen has appeared on PBS Television and XM Sirius Satellite Radio. He continues to hold one of the highest invite-back ratios in the speaking profession.