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This is a pretty accurate depiction of my “look” when “Focus” my #2 CliftonStrength is in overdrive.

Eyes laser focused, neck tensed, shoulders hunched, intent on the task ahead.

It’s a key strength for me as both a business owner and team member who takes responsibility for defining the next steps, timelines and moving projects to completion.

But I’ve also learned it can have its blind spots:

  • Getting so intent on a job that it’s easy to lose track of time and when goals or priorities might change.

  • Failing to step back and think more broadly about priorities in life.

I “know” this, but my default is to slip into what’s comfortable but it’s not always obvious– I can always count on the horses to call awareness to the blind spot.

Bella got her first bath of the season. She LOVED the cold hosing on a hot day. Early on, I was aware that a new horse on the property (who I haven’t met yet) came over to the fence to say hello. I meant to stop, walk over, pet him and acknowledge his presence. I got so lost in the task of scrubbing and rinsing suds that I finished the task at hand and walked back to the barn on the other side of the property without pausing to say hello.

Only after Bella was tucked in her stall with a fan did I realize I never went over to “greet” the horse who had come to see us. In the barn aisle, I realized, whoa…I’d just experienced a Focus blind spot.

This was undoubtedly a low (or no stakes) situation but if recognizing how easy this is for me to slip into was a good reminder so that I can watch out for falling into that pattern with clients and family.

I shared this with a coaching client (who also has Focus in the Top 5). The client shared that years ago, she had a first time meeting with a future co-worker at a high-pressure, faced-paced event. The client was on deadline, intent on getting the work done and the future co-worker experienced that as being blown off and later shared that story with my client.

My client does not  remember meeting the person and to the person on the receiving end, it sticks with them to today. Eventually, the client and their co-worker established a working strong relationship but it was an “aha” moment for me as to the impact that can have on the other person–even when we’re leaning into our strengths and not intending to offend.

Of course, it’s always a work in progress, but awareness is the first step and as I thought back on the day, I found these questions to help me explore how well this is serving me and hope they may help you in exploring your strengths.

  • What am I missing in the moment?
  • In the bigger scheme of things, how important is this project right now?
  • What action can I take to recognize the hyper-focus and what action can I take to decide if it’s right for the task at hand or time to be dialed back?