One goal or many

The tennis is on in Australia and I guess people are being distracted by a lot of things that have nothing to do with the game.

I assume though, that the players are staying focused on playing the best game that they can – and hopefully winning if they are good enough to have a chance.

That bit is similar to work at the moment – there are so many distractions going on around me that I think I could spend the whole day doom-scrolling. However, I am likely to be more successful (and happier) if I can be a little more present, choosing what to focus on and then staying focused on that.

I noticed one difference between sport and work though. In some sports people have points and in others they have goals or and attempt to be really fast to finish first. However they only have one goal (point, race) to focus on at a time.

At work I am always shifting from one worthy goal to another. I think this is important because my job is not just to run a workshop today but to integrate with others to build a community that is capable of creating some kind of value, which is often harder to measure that simple point scoring.

So in business I think we should avoid the simplicity of sports analogies that simplify everything into simple winning an losing.

However I wonder if there are a couple of things that we can take away:

  • Sport teams who have goals focus on one goal at a time. Then when they hit one goal they focus on getting the next one. Many people at work focus on a dozen goals at once, hoping that (I guess) scoring 1/12 of 12 goals today means success. Obviously though, goals only count when they are completed (and recognised) and it is easier, I think to focus a team on one thing that takes a while, rather than 12 things that seem urgent. So maybe the lesson is “one goal today, then progressively add new goals when we complete the last one”
  • Tennis players are more successful if they fan focus on what matters (I guess in tennis it is the tennis match). At work it can be harder to identify what we should focus on because it is not just about winning today, it is about building a community for tomorrow while achieving something good today. But maybe developing a sense of presence and clarity of focus is going to become ever more important


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