The Focus Factor

When my youngest son was a high school wrestler, he won his first two matches of the State Tournament to advance to the semi-finals of the Wisconsin State wrestling tournament the next day. Prior to his heading to the tournament we had talked about what he wanted to accomplish at the tournament. This was a continuation of a discussion that began at the start of the season when he thought about….and… actually put his goals for the season in writing. Certainly not anything I ever did as a kid!

Our discussion got me thinking about how we often fail to have discussions about development goals with our kids…or our employees. The discussions tend to be more spur of the moment…not that it’s a bad thing to have discussions when the moment arises…but certainly no substitute for structured discussions that force the parties to think about where they want to go in their career.

When having those discussions they need to take into consideration career goals but…almost as importantly… how the career goals fit in with their life goals. This is particularly important when dealing with employees early in their career. Those discussions can have a significant impact on someone’s long-term success and your ability get the best out of your people. Another side benefit to you as a leader (or a parent), is the satisfaction of seeing the impact you can have on that person’s life. In the end…you will find that is one of the most satisfying things you will ever do as a leader. Seeing them succeed is truly worth the time and effort spent!

Unfortunately, he lost an incredibly close 6-4 match in the semi-finals the next day. After the loss, we talked about his goals for the tournament…as well as the season. Discussing his goals enabled him to refocus…and…ultimately win his final match to place at the tournament. (In sudden death overtime no less!) I am convinced that without those goals to keep him focused…he (or the old man) would not have experienced the satisfaction that we both felt as he stood on the podium and received his medal for placing at the State wrestling tournament.