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Start With The Socks | Why A “Daily Focus” Matters

On the practice of clarifying the most important thing to do

by Rich Price

Our methodology is built around a concept that’s so simple that it’s almost confusing. The concept of the “Daily Focus” is, stated plainly, if you take a moment (we think it’s 60 seconds) to consider your day, you can identify the single most important thing you can achieve that will move you, your team, your family…forward towards its goal. Identifying it, focusing on that, will move you closer to your goal. 

We all have a multitude of things to do today, many of them could be categorized as urgent. But jacks of all trades become master of none, and that can happen when we try to juggle our many to-do’s. Consider how often this is true of your daily output — focus spread too thin that you just weren’t your best in any of the directions your energy flowed. This is not to say we can’t achieve multiple things in a given day — our audience is generally highly motivated, purpose-driven individuals who are interested in working hard towards ambitious goals. 

The “Daily Focus” is a moment of intentionality in an otherwise chaotic work day. It requires considering what is needed of me, what is realistic, and how my actions cascade to my interdependent teammates. Henry David Thoreau famously noted, “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” One hundred and sixty plus years later, we might say “work smarter, not harder.” But Thoreau’s question is about intention and choice, which after all is the foundation of strategic thinking.

There’s another adage that the “Daily Focus” speaks to: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. What does this have to do with a “Daily Focus?” In taking a moment to be mindful of one key result from the day, you are not only likely to be more effective (strategic), recording and sharing your “daily focus” with your teammates drives coordinated agility, by providing context where your energy is flowing and why.

One final analogy…I call it “start with the socks.” A friend’s mother once told me that, when she was a girl, my friend went to clean her room. Thirty minutes later, the mother opened the door to find the girl sitting on a pile of dirty clothes and stuffed animals, sobbing. The mother asked, “What’s the matter? What have you been doing?” And the girl, through her tears, cried “I don’t know where to start.” To that, the mother said simply, “Start with the socks.” And this has been a mantra of mine when faced with a daunting list of tasks. When we consider long-term strategic goals, subject to uncertain market conditions, changing internal and external factors…it’s easy to contemplate sitting on that pile and sobbing. The “Daily Focus” is starting with the socks. 

This concept is brought to life brilliantly in the book “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. We highly recommend it.

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