Focus: Has Anyone Seen Jack?

Jacks-150x150One of the vital keys to entrepreneurial success is focus. Those who can put away distractions and work effectively on one project will be the most successful. That’s the best route to business profits in a nutshell. But almost none of my clients do that. Heck, these days, even I don’t do it? And why’s that?

Because we have lives too and increasingly those lives are taking up a space of greater importance and priority to us. And I’m rather happy about that, I think it’s entirely as it should be. Does that mean that small business owners don’t want their businesses to be successful? No, I’m fairly sure it doesn’t, but they don’t want success at all costs. We have lives too and lives always get in the way of business – hooray! That’s a radical and qualified hooray from me.

I almost never have a client who wants to focus on business success to the exclusion of all else. My business clients talk to me about their health, their confidence and their diet plans. And about their children and their life partners, their hobbies, their families and their clutter-clearing.  And about where they want to live.

You cannot separate the entrepreneur and their business from their lives and I wonder if that’s why we are beginning to work for ourselves in ever-increasing numbers, because we can fit it in around what we want our for our lives?

Many have got the work-life balance in nearly the right ratio; if anything the scale is tipped slightly in favour of having a great life. That comes at the expense of a stonking business which will support you through thick and thin but then, as the old saying has it, no-one says on their death bed that they wish they had spent more time at an over-heating laptop.

I’m the first to cut my entrepreneurs some slack. We work out ways they are going to work effectively during moving house, while without internet access, during the school holidays and other challenges. We are talented jugglers for sure but that just short-changes every aspect of our lives. Isn’t it better to do one thing really well and once we have it cracked, move on to the next? Maybe that’s the fresh meaning and relaxing value of focus looked at through this new lens.

The slight snag in my plan is that our inflow of money needs to be kept pretty constant, or at least we fear that it does. I see clients go through a lot of hard times when it comes to money but however precarious it gets, I’ve never seen anyone come 100% to fiscal grief. As an accountant I did see that, with a couple of clients paying the ultimate price, but I’ve never seen that during my coaching years and perhaps that is precisely because coaching allows for work and play, not just work.

I notice and appreciate a sea change in that friends, clients, colleagues and family are putting their focus on happiness and health and making those two paramount. Workaholism is almost unheard of amongst my peer group now whereas it was rife not so long ago. Maybe that’s because like attracts like and whilst I was once I was a workaholic, I am no more.

The world of the self-employed is morphing before my eyes and our lives are improving, even in recession when times could be regarded as hard/impossible and if that’s not a grassroots movement, I don’t know what is. Despite its pitfalls, not many of us would change our self-employment. If we can make a go at it, we stick at it.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. But has anyone seen Jack recently? I know I haven’t. Jack’s AWOL and conspicuous by his absence and I, for one, am grateful for that.

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