D.L. Moody said, “Give me a person who says, ‘This one thing I do,’ and not ‘These 50 things I dabble in.’” He was likely referring to several biblical passages where believers described their single-minded focus on the Lord (Philippians 3:13-14 and Psalm 27:4, for example). When it comes to our spiritual maturity, focus is powerful. As we gaze at the Lord and pursue Him with single-minded focus, He transforms us more and more into His image.
Focus is powerful in work, in ministry, and in life. When you focus on one thing, the best of your energy and attention is leveraged in the same direction. With focus, leaders and team can accomplish much. The antithesis of a focused leader is, of course, a distracted one. Unlike a focused leader, a distracted leader moves in a plethora of directions and accomplishes little. Here are six warning signs you may be a distracted leader.
1. You cannot grind out work.
The Memphis Grizzlies are known for being a team that “grinds it out.” They embrace the mantra given to them by the city, play hard, and go to work until the final whistle blows. Grinding out work means, at times, long sessions or long days. To grind out work takes an incredible amount of focus. A distracted leader can’t stay on task and has to exit the grind.
2. You hop from idea to idea.
A distracted leader hops from new idea to new idea, rarely realizing the potential of any of them. A distracted leader constantly seeks new ideas, searching for a new magic bullet. A focused leader reads, learns, and seeks development as well but with motivations to mature and develop in the same direction.
3. You never question your execution.
A distracted leader is always tweaking strategy without looking at execution. Instead of the work of plowing through a challenge, a distracted leader would rather just change direction. A constant change in strategy can mask deficiency in execution.
4. You are always reorganizing.
Jim Collins cautioned against continual reorganization in his book How the Mighty Fall. When there is continual reorganization, teams are not able to find rhythm and execute well. Distracted leaders enjoy continual reorgs because instead of really working, they just hypothesize about how work can get done.
5. You are attracted to chaos.
Distracted leaders love chaos because they believe it gives them value. They are able to step in, bark out some orders, and feverishly work. Distracted leaders are not only attracted to chaos, they create it. Distracted leaders foster constantly changing direction, which in turn fosters chaos.
6. You are always somewhere else.
Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” A distracted leader is never fully present, not during dinner with the family, not when tucking the children in bed, and not in the meeting.
Really, this is a spectrum, a spectrum between focused and distracted leadership, so perhaps one or two of these points are potential areas of growth. We are likely never as focused as we could be, and distractions threaten to steal effectiveness from our leadership.