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This article was published on September 23, 2021

Stay focused by always asking yourself one key question

"Will this make our boat go faster?"

Stay focused by always asking yourself one key question

We all have goals. They might be as simple as cleaning the house or as ambitious as winning an Olympic medal. Setting goals is easy, but achieving them is hard, as we let ourselves get distracted with all the other stuff life throws at us.

Now we’ve all been taught that focus is essential if we want to reach our goals. But I’ve heard that phrase so many times it started to feel a bit empty. That was until last week, when I read a story about a rowing team that wanted to win a particular race. I don’t recall the specifics, but I remember how they applied focus to everything they did.

Every time they had to make decisions, they all asked themselves and each other: Does it make the boat go faster? It was that simple. When someone asked: “Do we need new shirts for the team?” The reply would be: “Does it make the boat go faster? If yes, get me those new shirts today. If not or uncertain, new shirts are a distraction we don’t need.”

The real challenge here, of course, is finding that one single thing you want to achieve. When you’d ask a rowing team what their main goal is, they might first tell you: “We want to improve teamwork,” We want to participate in the Olympics,” or “We want to win the race.”

It takes a more profound understanding of strategy to arrive at something as simple as, “We want to make the boat go faster.” So how to apply this to your own life? Find out what the single driver for success is in your project, job or organization. Then structure that as a question, and say no to everything else.

Can’t get enough of Boris? Check out his older stories here, and sign up for his newsletter here.

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