Stability and focus feature in every successful life. They are two sides of the same coin, focus is impossible without stability, and on the other hand any stability will erode in the absence of focus.
I published already in September 2020 the episode Stability and Resilience in Success and Inner Growth. But now the time has come to expand on that concept and add the concept of focus into the picture
The Relationship between Focus and Stability
Stability allows for processes in a business environment and habits in your personal life. In a stable environment, many events come up repeatedly. Therefore, you can reuse your decisions and responses in a stable environment many times. No agonizing over the same problem again and again.
We call such reusable decisions and responses in business life processes based on policies. In our personal life, they are habits based on values and beliefs. If you get your values and habits, your policies, and processes right, a huge amount of attention and energy becomes available for better use.
This extra energy and attention help of course to tackle and overcome the next barrier holding you back, otherwise preventing your next step on your journey to success. But excellent results become only possible, if you focus your free energy and attention like a laser beam.
Your detailed and carefully employed attention helps to find opportunities to tackle your problems, while organizing your energy allows you to act and break the barriers at their weakest points.
The first source of your stability is your own strength. I am talking here mainly about your physical and mental health. Knowledge and wisdom will of course help protecting and growing your personal strength. Learning adds reach and impact.
The second source of strength is your network. The right people around you help whenever you make a mistake. On top of that, you can employ your resources together in a way, that the whole is more than the sum of the parts.
Therefore, let’s explore both, how to build personal strength, and how to build strong and fruitful relationships with the right people.
Another term for building personal strength is “self-care.” If you don’t care about yourself, stability will be a stranger in your life, while focus will be a rare visitor. So, let me break down the main dimensions of self-care.
It is so obvious, that healthy food providing for all nutrition needs of our body is essential. Still, we don’t take the time to cook, buying instead readymade food. Therefore, we don’t even know exactly what we eat.
But there is more to good nutrition. Buying the best food, without dangerous ingredients and full of nutrients is not enough. That’s because everyone has slightly unique needs for a slightly different body. And you, with you unique body have also varying nutrition needs depending on your activities, mood, and overall health. Therefore, eating the right food demands not only attention to the things we eat. The second requirement is listening to your body. Pay attention to signals like appetite, energy levels, and also pain signals.
The next dimension of self-care is sleep. Your body needs sleep, and so does your mind. For your body, sleeping means cleaning up the mess left by the day. On top comes testing body functions, repairing damage inflicted during the day and strengthening any weak spots.
But your mind needs also sleep. A whole lot of information ended up during the day in your short-term memory. Your mind needs sleep time to sift through that pile, structure it. A lot will be dismissed as noise, marked as already known, and filed in the appropriate folder. But then, some information stands out. It does not neatly fit into our world view. It is strange in our known world. Your mind need sleep to get hold of those ones, search in its huge database for related information and make sense of it.
But those strange and challenging bits are often the most valuable ones. They can help you to reframe the most challenging problems and guide you towards creative solutions. Lack of sleep is the equivalent of throwing those nuggets into the waste bin.
Paying attention to the world, your body, and to yourself allows you to learn. Those strange and otherwise disturbing nuggets help you to build new and unique skills. Knowing your needs and desires allows you to decide what to learn.
The Second Pillar of Stability
Your own strength is one pillar. But that is not enough. Stability needs a second pillar: good relationships. If you want success, you need focus. And because focus is impossible without stability, and success without stability is not even a pipe dream. Therefore, let’s move to the second pillar of stability: Relationships.
Building a Network
A network is a bunch of people helping each other’s to reach their respective goals. The best networks connect different people with different interests and aspirations. Networking is not always easy, and many people are reluctant to join or build a network. I admit that I belonged to this group. But such reluctance and fear made me run many times against the same wall.
The life blood of networks is giving and taking, while living the own life and allowing others to live theirs.
Giving and Taking
Giving and taking is the lifeblood of all economic activity. To participate, you need something to give and the willingness to accept what others have on offer. In other words, you must on one hand develop your own talents and skills, but on the other hand you must also appreciate the talents, skills, and talents of others.
If you lack skills, there is little you can give. But you will receive little for your work, even with the best and most unique skills without the ability and willingness to appreciate others, accept their contribution, and to leave them room to grow and improve.
Yes, it is so important that I repeat it a third time. The main ingredient of networking is the willingness to develop yourself, use your talents, hone your skills. But openness to others, appreciating their contribution with awe, and accepting their gifts with joy is equally important.
People, who must compete in everything, will obviously struggle to build a great network. They have a challenging time to accept the gifts and contributions of others, because accepting that implies that those others can perform the task better than they themselves. Therefore, without appreciation of others balance of giving and taking is impossible. If you cannot appreciate the skills, talents, and contributions of others, you will give and give and give without taking enough. That is, until you break down.
But balanced giving and taking, together with the opportunity to focus on your strengths and talents, is not the only precondition for a great network. The network also needs reliability.
If you try to build a relationship, you start with small give and takes. You offer a small favor and wait how it will be returned. If you get a return favor, you might offer more, expecting the other person to match it again.
After a few rounds you have a pretty good idea what to expect. Reliability means now, that you and the people in your network live up to the expectations they create.
Obviously, the best way to disconnect from people and lose access to that network and to poison your relationships features unclear expectations and broken promises.
Therefore, it is imperative to create realistic expectations and to live up to explicit and implicit promises. The big question is here: How to get there?
Taking Yourself Seriously
Reliability is not just a matter of words. Reliability is about thoughts and behavior, and about your relationship with yourself. If you know your own priorities and the resources you have at hand, then you are in the position to make a promise and keep it. But, if you are clear with yourself, you know also when to decline a request because it would destroy your focus, overstretch your resources, or for any other reason you might have to say “no.”
The art to say no is one the foundation of reliability. If and when you take yourself seriously, knowing your goals, your skills, and your resources, then you know when to decline a request. And obviously, if you know why to say no, you can let your opposite know about the reason and avoid hurting him or her personally.
On the other and, if you conclude that you
- want to say yes to a request
- have the means to live up to your words
- and this additional task chimes nicely with your goals
then it is easy to make a promise and keep it. Reliability is not a matter of pressure and fear. Instead, it is a matter of self-consciousness and the skill of saying no.
Build a Habit of a Daily Review
The daily routine of an unbiased look at
- your progress towards your goals and aspirations
- your resources as they grow or shrink
- the people around you with their needs and the opportunities they offer
almost guarantees to you the ability to maintain a stable environment. Dedicate ten or 15 minutes per day to such a ritual. The big reward is the ability to manage your focus and direct it to the things that do indeed matter most for you.
Use Stability to Focus on Your Mission
Living in a stable environment, surrounded, and protected by a network characterized by clarity, mutual trust, reliability, and open mindedness you can now scan your path for upcoming challenges. If you see a challenge early on, you can assess the resources and skills you need to tackle it successfully. Then you focus your attention to acquire what you need, prepare, and execute your response.
This is the manuscript of episode twenty-seven of the podcast Success and Inner Growth. The next Episode will be ready by the end of the year. The topic will be: How to Thrive in a Hostile Environment. In the meantime, subscribe here, so that you don’t miss out on further episodes.