Every great leader must learn how to overcome distractions. In this technological age, distractions are plentiful and increasing daily. From smartphone push notifications that notify you of current, potential, or people problems to impromptu meetings and social media – distractions come in various forms.
Christian author and pastor, A.W. Tozer once wrote, “Distractions must be conquered, or they will conquer us. So let us cultivate simplicity; let us walk in the Spirit.” Similarly, British writer, military leader and statesman Winston Churchill once said, “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”
Leaders that master their day and defeat distractions practice simple, but profound principles that keep them focused and on task. Here are five principles that will help you defeat any distraction.
Believe your work is great and significant
Effective leaders believe that finishing their work is the most important task of the day. There is an old leadership adage that says, “If you don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs.”
Leadership question: Do you believe your tasks are the most important tasks of the day?
Don’t waste time fighting battles that don’t exist
Focused leaders don’t waste time-fighting battles that do not exist. Fear of the unknown can attack the mind. Distractions cause leaders to worry about “what if.” Stay focused and only deal with the distractions in front of you – real distractions that must be addressed.
Leadership question: Are you wasting time on tasks and issues that are not essential to your goal?
Be passionate about the things that keep you strong
To overcome distractions we have to find the source of strength. Best-selling author Steven Covey reminds us that, “It’s easy to say no when there’s a deeper yes burning inside.” Keep the main “yes” of your life squarely in front of you.
Leadership question: Do you know where you find strength and the power to say ‘no’ so you can work on your deeper ‘yes?’
Set bold and healthy boundaries
Focused leaders can say no to others because they have already decided what they will and won’t do. Focused leaders set healthy boundaries that keep then focused. Leaders today need healthy boundaries to accomplish great works. Leaders need boundaries around their schedules, email, phones, and personal habits.
Leadership question: Do you have healthy boundaries that will free you to focus on that which matters most?
Remain accountable to yourself and others
Focused leaders are accountable leaders. Here is a real secret: Accountable leaders understand they will have to give an account for their work. Sometimes we just need others to help us stay true to the task at hand.
Leadership question: Are you accountable to anyone for your most important and essential tasks?
Every leader has a great task to complete. Every leader will be distracted. However, leaders who will accomplish much will overcome a multitude of distractions to complete their mission. The saddest words a leader could ever hear would be, “He almost finished.” Don’t leave your leadership undone. Complete the tasks that only you can fulfill. Say no to distractions so you can say yes to your destiny.
This article has been edited.
Ken Gosnell is the CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience). He serves leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. He has worked with hundreds of CEOs and leadership teams to enhance strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is an author, coach, and strategic partner with CEOs. Ken is the creator and facilitator of the Christian CEO Linkedin Group and creator of the CEO Experience Impact Assessment. He is married to Shonda, and they have four children.