Every positive attribute has its
dark side when taken to an extreme. "Focus" has
its benefits, but it also has its toll.
I learned about
the down side of "focus" when I first started to paint about fifteen
years ago. I would get so focused and
engrossed in my work that my instructor would always
have to remind me to step back to observe my painting
and the work I had done.
I can still hear her words: Step Back.
Stepping back temporarily
disrupts your focus momentarily, allowing you to reflect
and see things differently.
doing so, I gained perspective on what I should do next.
However, what I found most surprising about stepping
back during the painting process was the realization
that my intense focus often resulted in me over working
and over complicating the piece.
I believe that this same
principle applies to much of what we do at
often can over-complicate a task or a situation if
we are too close to it. As a result we can overwork or
simply get worked up over something, but if we can just
step back momentarily and disrupt this focus, it can
lead us to some different
I was reminded of this recently.
While I was starting my new role last month, I was
also completing 2012 commitments I had with clients.
Needless to say, my time was stretched and I felt like I
was putting 20 pounds of activity in a 10 pound capacity
All the signs of
being overwhelmed were there: that pit in my
stomach, the quick, impatient responses, and the
juggling and shuffling of multiple activities at
When I am in this
state of mind, I am not present, instead I have tunnel
vision and am hyper focused on the tasks I am trying to
complete. Over time I have come to realize that
this intense focus actually worsens the situation.
My pressure mounts and my perspective lessens.
you find yourself in moments like this,
recognizing it will be your first step in finding your way out of
Then once you are able to
recognize it, do as I do, repeat the words of my
Step back, Observe, Reflect.
And when you do, the furious
cycle will dissipate and a new way of seeing your
situation will emerge. A new sense of perspective and
It may sound counter intuitive
that the best way to move forward is to step back, and
the best way to gain clarity is to lose a bit of your
focus....momentarily, but it's worth the effort to get
Laura Lopez is an
award-winning author of The
Connected and Committed Leader. She is a leadership and
branding expert who has been featured on the Today Show,
Latina Voices Smart Talk, Living Smart and Fox
In addition, her accomplishments have been
highlighted in several business periodicals
including Personal Excellence, The Long Beach
Business Journal, The Houston Chronicle, Latina
Magazine, and Central Valley Business Times. Her
articles on management and leadership are regularly seen
in Leadership Excellence.
Laura can be contacted via her Web site at: