“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity.
― Steve Jobs
Kurt Vonnegut’s classic short story “Harrison Bergeron” describes a future where equality of all individuals is enforced by the government. The above average in intelligence wear devices in their ears which blare a loud noise every minute or so to prevent focused continual thought. I sometimes wonder if we’ve inflicted the same thing on ourselves voluntarily with our collection of electronic co-horts like texts, facebook, and email. We all know people who are addicted to their devices constantly checking them and interrupting sustained thought. Focus is a powerful asset of the human mind. The ability to think deeply on a subject, to project forward scenarios, to consider outcomes and to creatively deduce solutions is without peer as an element in the creation of value for knowledge companies. It’s increasingly difficult to pull this feat of focus off with so many distractions in our lives particularly for young people raised on these devices.
In the two previous posts I talked about Opportunity and Speed, two of three things I’m emphasizing at SRT. The final concept is Focus. Focus means figuring out what’s important and likely to matter and trying to ignore all else…even if it means delayed responses to email, phone and text. I hope I’m not the only company leader that actually likes it when my emails to employees go unanswered immediately. To me that means that someone is focusing on a problem, maybe trying to understand a line of mathematical reasoning or developing an algorithm or writing code…all three of which are in most cases more important than an immediate response to my email.