In my business - small business consulting - we continually meet people who are looking to improve the operations of their business but hit a wall trying to do it. Oh, certainly they make a change here - or there - or over there, but for the most part, they find it nearly impossible to move the needle by any appreciable degree.
After all these years, I'm still struck by the root cause of that issue - these business owners craft solutions that call for skills that simply aren't available to them or ingrained into the structure of their company. Skills such as communication, discrimination, organization, innovation, and one of the most important, the skill of concentration; the skill which enables you to focus your attention.
You see, it's concentration that allows you, as an entrepreneur, to create the solutions necessary for your success - and to be honest - it comprises everything that a CEO needs to be able to grow.
A more important question is "what is concentration?"
Why? Because our ability to concentrate is beset on all sides in a very "busy" world. We get lost in social media, we are consumed with trivial things in our day-to-day, and honestly, we, collectively, seem to relish the fact that we don't concentrate anymore. We are focused on instant gratification - whether that is the choice of music at our fingertips or our ability to watch a cat video on our tablet while we get ready for work in the morning.
Our inability to concentrate leads to failings in business and personal relationships and the fact we cannot comprehend it is truly astonishing.
Concentration is the baseline for doing anything.
It's where we are when we're not doing "stuff."
It's not the ability to hit the target - it's the ability to hit a moving target.
It's being HERE. 100%. Focused.
Most of us aren't. We're thinking about the weekend, or what we are going to do later on, or the things we need to accomplish after we leave work, worrying about things that aren't going to happen.
So as silly as it sounds, if you want to improve those business operations in a truly tangible way, you have to do something that may seem strange - you need to Lower the Basket.
I have a son who, when he was younger, couldn't shoot a basket if his life depended on it. (Not to worry, he's reading this now and smiling, so don't worry.) As frustrating as this was to him, what did I do about it? Coaching? Demonstrating the proper technique? Nope. Truth be told, I didn't do anything at all. I took a friend of mine that is much more knowledgeable about basketball and the science of hitting a free throw out for a drink and posed the question to him.
His answer was simple and oh so obvious... "lower the basket."
Bring the basket down to the kid's size ... except he added one caveat: "But don't just lower the basket. Stand right by him while he experiences the shift. And say to him, as he makes his first basket, 'How did that feel?'"
"And look him in the eye when you say it."
Look him in the eye when you say that.
THAT is concentration. And that is why you lower the basket - to enable a kid, an employee, a company to feel what it is to win, to understand how to hit a target, or close a sale, or reach a goal.
Think about training a new player on your team - a new employee. Can you now see the process you need to create? How to teach holding the ball, holding your body, how to breathe, what is the philosophy of the game?
Lower their basket to ensure they will understand the skills necessary to play on your team. Ultimately, the basket -and the stakes - will have to go back up, but you will ensure that the level of concentration necessary for success is attainable.
Next, we'll talk about discrimination. It isn't what you think it is.