Staying focused

CEOs like to think of
themselves as great
multitaskers, and to some extent, that’s true.

To be successful in any
business, you have to be
able to juggle the requirements of not only your family but also the constant
demands on your time from
your business. Charities call
and ask for donations to
meet new goals, and politicians are looking for contributions so they can lobby
Congress for laws that will
help you. And then, of
course, there are the day-today demands from your
business operations, like
meeting with customers to
build relationships, instructing your senior managers on
the next growth phase and
keeping tabs on all of the
data that tells you how well
you are doing.

With all these things pulling
at you for time, it’s easy to
overcommit. The next thing
you know, you’ve got 10
hours of time but 12 hours
worth of commitments.
Something has to suffer as a
result, and more often than
not, it’s your business. You
don’t want to disappoint the
people on the outside who
are relying on you, so you
start stealing time away
from the company.

This is where CEOs convince themselves that they
are great multitaskers and
they are successfully managing everything, while the
truth is their business is
hurting. They aren’t there to
make timely decisions. They
aren’t staying as focused on
long-term growth as well as
they should, and they aren’t
staying on top of changes in the industry. And it all
becomes easy to justify
because you are spending
your time helping worthy
causes or people in need.

This is where you have to
be careful. If you overcommit and take too much time
away from your business, it will ultimately suffer. And
when it does, that means
less profits that are available
to help the very people you
wanted to help in the first
place. It also means employees might lose their jobs,
customers may not get
served and vendors might
not get paid. This ripple
effect can cause a great deal
of anguish for many.

This is why it’s important
to make sure you stay
focused on your business
while also doing what you
can to help others.

There are many companies
that give back to the community in one way or another. But it’s a long record of
business performance that
allows them to continually
give at high levels.

Take U.S. Bank for example.

Last year, through its foundation, the company gave
out more than $20 million in
cash grants, made $20 billion
in loans to community development and its employees
volunteered thousands of
hours of their time.

If U.S. Bank had lost its
focus, there would be far
less money to donate and far
fewer employees to volunteer their time. It wouldn’t
have just been the bank that
suffered; it would have been
the communities and the
people it serves, as well.

In business, the old saying
of “slow and steady wins
the race” is often true. U.S.
Bank, while obviously not
the only one, is an example
of a company that’s proving
that. It stayed focused on
what made it successful, and
as a result, everyone — the
bank, its employees, charities and the communities it
serves — wins.

We are all responsible for
being good stewards of what
we have. While the demands
on our time and resources
are many, you have to make
sure you don’t lose focus on
the business that provides so
much for so many.

So the next time someone
calls to ask for help, make
sure you are not robbing
your business to do so.
Losing your focus can have
catastrophic results for people both inside and outside
of your business, and if that
happens, who will help those
that you help now?

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your
comments at (800) 988-4726 or [email protected].

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