High-performing entrepreneurs understand that concentrated focus goes a long way in determining how successful they are. They recognize that multitasking is an ineffective way of going about their business. As they understand it, getting a lot done in a short period of time can help shorten your to-do list, but intentionality should always take precedence over productivity.
At its core, high performance is synonymous with putting concentrated focus into one high-leverage action item at a time. It means seeing projects through to completion, one by one, and not letting crowd noise force you to shift gears off the tasks that matter most.
But make no mistake — employing this deep level of focus and follow-through is not easy. That’s why most people don’t do it. It’s much easier to jump from project to project. But that isn’t how you’ll achieve your business goals.
To be a truly high-performing entrepreneur who knows to play the long game, you’ll need to stay focused, humble, and healthy, with your eyes on the prize and your feet planted firmly on the ground.
Focused, Humble and Healthy: The High-Performing Entrepreneur
Concentration is the secret of strengths in politics, in war, in trade, in short in all management of human affairs.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Think of it this way. As a business owner, your goal should be to accumulate five deep wells instead of fifty shallow puddles. Quality always trumps quantity. Whether this becomes a philosophical approach for networking with people or how you go about creating your product or service, your work will be of higher quality and you will grow as a person by focusing on each project for a longer period of time.
Entrepreneurship is rarely, if ever, about playing the short game. The deep wells you’ll create for your business can only be cultivated slowly over a longer duration.
Below, you’ll find three points of focus that will help you create these deep wells that will become huge assets for your business. You will also find three “traps” that entrepreneurs fall into that will deflect your focus from where it should be.
3 tips that will sharpen your focus
1. Stay grounded
A heart of service is conducive to a high level of performance. A mindset of ego is not. Your focus will improve when you stay grounded in the work you’re doing.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. You already have a story worth sharing because someone else would benefit from hearing your life experiences. But remember that while this may be true, and that your journey is unique, millions of people have already been where you are now, and thousands of them are miles ahead of you. There is work to be done yet.
If people ask how you’ve gotten where you are, don’t be afraid to share your story. But until you’ve truly closed a chapter and had a year or more to reflect on it, keep it to yourself. Keep chugging along and writing that story.
At some point, a day will come where your business acumen will exceed your ability to tell a story about how great and unique of a business owner you are. At that point, you’re probably ready to share your story with the world.
There isn’t a problem with having a chip on your shoulder or using where you came from as motivation — unless you make it one. It’s all a part of a rich story that you will tell in time.
2. Stay balanced
Staying balanced will allow you to engage more deeply and stay present with your work. You create a natural incentive for yourself to work hard when you go into a session with an idea of when you’ll be done or will shift your focus towards another goal, activity or project.
An important caveat though: staying balanced does not mean distributing the hours in the day equally. True balance means having peace of mind in all of the areas of life that matter to you. It’s your job to know how many hours in a day or week you will need to create that peace of mind for yourself.
Remember, two hours of deep work beats eight hours of sloppy work any day of the week.
3. Know your outcome
Knowing your outcome means having a meaningful business goal in place. Your company is probably not successful if you don’t have goals in place. Period.
By knowing your outcome, you’ll also always know which direction you should be heading in. This is particularly useful on the days where you make decisions that fall short of that path. Having meaningful goals in place provides a compass that puts your focus back on track and helps you make better (and faster) business decisions.
Make a habit out of knowing where you’re headed, and your point of focus will narrow to the point that the right choice will always be one decision away.
3 traps that will deflect your focus
1. Romanticizing the entrepreneurial lifestyle
Seriously, save the story you keep telling people. Even if you’ve made it to a point where you have accomplishments you could talk about, you poison your own mind each time you glorify your achievements as a business owner to someone else.
It was your choice to work remotely or to quit your job, not a special title or accolade that anyone handed to you. Tell yourself otherwise and you risk losing the humility and perspective required to stay focused on the hard work necessary to succeed over the long term.
Yes, hard work trumps everything else. Without it, you won’t ever be a successful entrepreneur.
But working yourself to the point where everything blends together is probably going to prevent you from being able to focus deeply at some point. If you’ve arrived here, it might behoove you to take a little break. If your health is suffering because of the work you’re putting in, that’s not good. Entrepreneurship is a long game that requires some level of sustainability to be successful.
Too much of a good thing will render that thing destructive. It is your responsibility to disengage from your work in an effort to keep you healthy, happy, and productive.
3. Sleep deprivation
The science here is conclusive: If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you are sacrificing your health.
We’ve all read the horror stories of the early years of successful entrepreneurs. Working into the wee hours of dawn on a regular basis is only something your body will tolerate for so long.
Sleep recharges and rejuvenates your body. Your mind and body will function better and you will be able to engage and focus more deeply when you make it a priority.
For every entrepreneur that “makes it” routinely pulling all-nighters, three more develop health problems that plague their ability to be effective during waking hours. Proceed with caution.
Conclusion: The happy and humble entrepreneur
A high-performing entrepreneur is a happy and humble entrepreneur. By grounding yourself with your daily workload, staying focused and intentional, and seeking the unique balance that is right for you, you’re affording yourself an opportunity to go places others never will.