Sunday, January 5, 2014

Focus

A recent post, The Secret to Focusing on What Matters by Dan Rockwell talks about choosing One Word to focus your attention.  His statement that “[i]nsignificant leaders focus on trivialities” struck home with me.  I find myself so scattered most of the time trying to iStock_000008217437XSmalltake on too much too fast for too many people, often things that really aren’t that important in the big picture.  I know that I need to pick a few priorities and do them well.  In practice that seems to be more ideal than real.  In my work, and I see it for so many of my colleagues and staff, there are simply too many seemingly important things to do.  It is a real challenge to step back and decide what not to do.  So often we, myself included, just work harder and forget to work smarter.  Back to Dan Rockwell’s post… If I were to choose ‘one word’, I think it would be ‘focus’.  I’m not saying I’m willing to commit to this yet (procrastinating), but I’m thinking about it.

I need to ask myself, if ‘focus’ is to be my ‘one word’, how might my priorities line up to be in the coming years?  I will need to use focus as a lens to judge my use of time.  I don’t know about you but it is often very difficult to not follow and read the articles behind great links shared by colleagues and others on Twitter.  I do budget some time early in the morning to read and reflect on ‘what’s new’.  I expect myself to be well informed on a broad array of topics so this is important.  But sometimes 90 minutes can slip by and I’ve consumed interesting information but not contributed to my real work.  I need to become relentless about focusing my energy on what’s important and not just interesting.

I am trying to focus my purpose and priorities as outlined in this image…

image

But, the world does not stand still, especially with respect to technology.  So much about the world of technology is going through accelerating change, the ‘what’ items here will need constant refinement and some will go while new ones will come even before some get started.  It’s a crazy world!

But, there are other significant priorities I am focused on that are not directly stated here.  I value relationships with my ‘clients’ and thus invest a significant portion of my time visiting with, listening to, and sharing with school and district staffs.  Equally or perhaps more importantly, I invest significant time listening to my staff, considering how and where to develop my staff, to prepare them for an unpredictable future fraught with changes to their work, and to better align them to the shifting needs of our business.  This strategic workforce design and planning effort is definitely in my top priorities for 2014.  I also value the ‘partners’ from industry we rely on for hardware, software, and services and thus invest time with Learn & Leadthem accordingly.  These client, staff, and partner investments are essential to moving us forward together in the most effective manner.  This is hard and time consuming work.  As Dan Rockwell says “[t]he things you focus on express the importance of your leadership”.  I may be a ‘technology leader’ in title, but to be successful and relevant, I’m a people and relationship leader in practice.

My overarching goal, my focus, my “why”, is to ‘transform learning and work through technology’.  Some have asked ‘to what end?’ and that’s a great question.  Embedded in the statement is the assumption that technology will transform learning and work for the better.  I and those I work with will need to work hard to resist the allure of technology for technology’s sake.  I want to leave the places I work at, significantly better off, than when I arrived.

Focus…  I don’t know yet how well I will do to reduce the numerous distractions in my work life and focus on what really matters, but this is what I aim to do in 2014 and beyond.