Focus and Outcomes

Focus and Outcomes
April 10, 2024 Rob Artigo
In Podcasts

Entrepreneurs rarely get what they “deserve”, but most everyone gets what they focus on, good or bad. In this Tough Things First podcast, Ray Zinn takes a deep dive into our focus and how it drives the results.

Rob Artigo: You wrote recently, we generally get what we expect, and you say the reason is our focus is on what we want, and that dictates our decisions. It’s true in our personal lives. Is it true in our business lives and our work environment?

Ray Zinn: Absolutely. I mean, you get what you expect because that’s where your focus is, so if you’re not happy in your work or you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, you’re going to change your focus and that focus becomes your output because again, you can’t think of two things at the same time.

You can only focus on one thing at a time, and so if you’re focusing on what is not what you want, you’re still going to get it because you’re going to get where your focus is.

Rob Artigo: Is this, and I know you are an equestrian, you like to ride horses. Is it like the horse that meanders around? If you’re on a horse that’s disinterested in doing a ride, but their eye will point towards something and they’ll start going that way instead of going the trail that you want to ride on, it’ll wander off to the side, where you’re focused on something and you naturally gravitate towards it.

Ray Zinn: Yeah. I’m sure that’s quite what it is. I mean, on riding horses in race horses, they put these cups around their eyes so that they focus straight ahead because a horse can actually see back toward the rear, and so they want him focusing on where he is, not where he was. Again, that’s not exactly a perfect example of what you’re talking about, but certainly where our focus is, and our focus could not be visual, it could be audio. It could be also what we’re thinking and what we’re smelling, or what we’re feeling, that determines or affects our focus. For example, if your cubicle or where you’re working is very, very cold, then you’re going to be focusing on how cold it is and you’ll lose a train of thought on what you’re trying to accomplish and you’ll make mistakes.

Or if it’s too hot, the same way. Maybe you get up and get a drink of water or whatever, or go try to cool off as you would. It doesn’t have to be just what you’re thinking. It could be how you feel. Maybe you’re sick, maybe you’re coming down with a cold, or maybe you’ve got a headache, or you’ve got an earache, or a toothache, or your shoulder hurts or whatever, those things can distract you and keep you from focusing on the job at hand or the task at hand.

Rob Artigo: Yeah, and in your upcoming book, Essential Leadership Managing Distractions, and it seems like that’s part of that process. And so I guess, the positive thing is if you’re right focused, if you’re focused on the right objectives for your business and for your working life, then you head in that direction. The drawback is that if you were focused on something negative, you’re going to gravitate in that direction and the wish becomes the reality sort of scenario.

Ray Zinn: If you have a headache or an earache, or a cold or a physical thing, it’s best to go get it fixed. It’s best to take either something that’ll minimize the effects of that particular medical problem so that you can go back to focusing. So sometimes you need to fix something that’s distracting you, whether it be heat, whether it be cold, whether it be something in your surroundings. Maybe it’s somebody playing their music too loud next to your cubicle or area. It could be that there’s somebody on a lawn mower outside that’s buggy or a leaf blower or something, so it is best to minimize those distractions so that you can focus. Distractions are key to your ability to stay focused on your task. As they say, “You better be careful what you wish for because your wish may become your reality.” Focusing is a matter of asserting yourself on the task and not being affected by your external factors, whether it be thinking about something at home that you’ve got to take care of.

You might be thinking about, for example, that you’ve got a bunch of company coming over after work and you start thinking about getting that organized, or maybe it’s a problem with one of your children, and maybe a problem with a spouse. It could be a number thing. Maybe it’s your boss. I found out in my 37 years of running Micrel that 75% of the reasons that employees leave to go to another job is because of their boss. Their boss becomes their distraction. They look over your shoulder, or if they’re constantly harassing you, or if they’re bothering you in some way, or if they’re not being fair, that sort of thing. That’s a distraction, and that keeps you from focusing on your task at hand and minimizes your ability to accomplish the task at hand.

Rob Artigo: Yeah. I guess, the idea is you said, “Be careful what you wish for.” You also want to be able to wish for the best so that you can generally expect that the best will be what the outcome is.

Ray Zinn: Absolutely. Well, again, your ability to focus is the key, and you should know what the distractions are because if you have a job you’re doing and you’re becoming distracted in some way, find out what that distraction is. It doesn’t take, but a few seconds to say, “This is bothering me, something is distracting me,” whatever it is. Maybe it’s just the noise in your work area, it might be the environmental, maybe it’s cold or hot, or it could be any number of things, it could be an employee or a workmate that’s giving you a problem. So just focus on what’s distracting you so that you can get it out, you can solve it. Again, distractions are the thing that keep you from minimizing your performance.

Rob Artigo: I’d like to remind the listeners that they can join the conversation at Please bring us your questions, comments are always welcome, let us know. We do have some podcasts on that take you to the video podcasts at Ray’s YouTube channel, so you can check that out and tell us which way you prefer to listen. If you like the podcasts that are on video, we would appreciate knowing that. Ray, of course, you can follow his, it used to be called Twitter, but now X and his other social media, Facebook, LinkedIn and of course, Ray’s books. Make sure you check them out if you haven’t already. Tough Things First is the title of his first book. We have the Zen of Zinn Series one, two, and three, and the upcoming book, The Essential Leadership, which is I think, going to be very helpful for a lot of people. Thanks again, Ray.

Ray Zinn: Thank you, Rob.

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