Simplify, Focus and Execute


On Saturday I spoke to a group of retailers. Before I spoke, the group’s leadership encouraged the member stores to simplify, focus and execute. For me it was a timely message as I look at my own responsibilities and all that I’m trying to do in order to get in myself and my direct reports into our areas of strength and ultimately become more effective. I feel strongly that we need to simplify, focus and execute to maximize our opportunities and deliver customer-focused results.

I’m reading 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and the book is helping me evaluate many parts of my life and how I spend my time. It’s certainly helping me simplify, focus and execute.

Some months ago I kept a 90-day diary of my time at work. At the end I was blown away that my time was so fractured (no focus) and that I was spending less than 20% of my time in my areas of strength (as defined by Marcus Buckingham in his book “Now, Discover Your Strengths” (Marcus Buckingham, Donald O. Clifton).

Since the conclusion of the 90-day test I’ve made some incremental changes but once I admitted my email addiction and recognized that part of my work life was out of control, I’m seeing some bold new opportunities of time and it’s helping me get to where I need to be so that I can focus and execute. So step one of Simplify (checking email twice a day) is well on the way.

Focus is next (and Focus is one of my strengths). I am deliberately trying to get greater spans of time to focus and get out of the day-to-day weeds that clog our creative gardens. My associate publisher, Jeremy Johnson, and I are working hard to define his role so that we’re both in areas of strength and also making sure we’re freeing me up to focus and be as creative as I can be. Jeremy is an Arranger and one of his gifts is taking the details and bringing them together. He’s a great support.

Execution is where the fruit of all this will come. Simplify and Focus are tremendous but will not mean as much to me or the organization if execution isn’t part of the equation. None of us has time to just create without bringing the best ideas to fruition. Each idea needs a filtering system and plans of action. There’s many ways to do this and I’m committed to making sure the best ideas get done.

Let me give a simple illustration. We have an incredible project this year – The Word of Promise – and while working on this product I’ve witnessed the value of simplify, focus and execution. We’ve put so much time and energy in this effort and we’re seeing the results. Our marketing team has prioritized opportunities and got them done. This year we picked four products on which to focus and as with Word of Promise I think as we simplify (pick and stick with just four), focus on them and then execute the plan, we’ll see tremendous results.

Simplify, Focus and Execute – it’s where we need to be so we can work and live in our areas of strength and personal excitement. It’s a tremendously energizing way to spend the day.

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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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