I have named it "EADD" or Entrepreneurial Attention Deficit Disorder. A few years ago, I thought it was just an isolated case- not commonly found. Now it has become epidemic; nearly 40% of all the small business owners I meet suffer from it.
Its symptoms include difficulty focusing on one thing at a time, trouble sticking to one subject or topic, not being able to finish a task, poor follow through in general, and the in-ability to stick with a new pattern or habit until it becomes consistent.
I’m no medical doctor and I write this in some jest, but honestly there is a real correlation between this ADD and being your own boss. Somewhere along the line, the same gene that makes a person bold, daring, smart (even brilliant), insightful and a leader also contains an inability to stay focused.
It’s actually sad to see brilliant and hardworking business owners spin their wheels and not get anywhere because they simply don’t know how to focus.
Sound like you? I have now coached 11 different small business owners who have had EADD to varying degrees, so I have mastered the art of coaching them. I recently completed an online course to help me understand this and am building up my level of patience with these clients.
As soon as I see the first signs of EADD, I equip my clients with the following tools to help them fight this disease:
- Quit multi-tasking. The ancient Chinese saying, “A man who chases two rabbits catches none,” is true. Focus on one thing - do it well and only after completing it, move on to the next one.
- Maintain a to-do-list and keep it in one secure place. The other coaches tease my EADD clients because they are always seen with their “Coach Thom Books”-simple $5 journals where they keep a special type of to-do-list I have developed.
- Plan before you take any action. Your first urge may be to answer that ringing phone or respond to the first piece of paper you come across, but in many cases, that is the wrong thing to do. You are much better served by adding these tasks to your specially designed to-do-list, then reviewing it in order to prioritize (using the 80/20 rule used in sales coaching), and then take the appropriate action.
- Keep another section where you can record and store your great ideas. Having too many ideas can sometimes paralyze you. Keeping your future ideas in a “parking lot” will free up your valuable mind-space and allow you to focus on the matters at hand.
- Commit to sticking to new habits - and only one new habit at a time- for six weeks. Folks with EADD seem to be trying something new all the time- and most of the things they want to try are brilliant but they have to stick with these. Making a commitment to your coach or someone else in your life that you will try your new habit for six weeks can help you follow-through with your commitments.
These basic steps can go a long way in maintaining focus - a quality that is paramount for success.