“I have spent more hours than I can count holding a focus for people while they purged tons of undone, incomplete “stuff” lying around their life.”
— David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, and founder of The David Allen Company, a global training and consulting company, widely considered the leading authority in the fields of organizational and personal productivity.
When I read the sentence above, within one of David Allen’s newsletters, I nodded my head in silent agreement thinking, “Me too.” There are two interactive exercises which consistently prove to be the most powerful ones I do within my Managing with Aloha workshops: One is a team expression of Aloha, and the other is what Allen refers to as “holding a focus for people.”
It’s quite simple, really. Focus time is something all managers can easily do for their own teams. It can be a gift, and usually is, because as easy as it is, we rarely give each other the time and relevant camaraderie to actually do it, and do it successfully.
Focus time done successfully is mostly a matter of context, for focus time is essentially the opportunity for self-reflection with good reason. I’ve taken a David Allen seminar, and we do our focus times the same way: We present our workplace concepts first (productivity for him, managing with values for me) to provide that thought-provoking context that will cause people to stop and think within our parameters of good intention, pushing all other busyness out of their mental awareness for an hour or so. We then have participants sit with pencil and paper, to write down their own answers to a series of questions we’ll ask, questions meant to turn on that tap of self-reflection and personal focus.
“… And one of the most difficult exercises for teams is their ‘disengagement’ strategy—what do we need to stop doing, in order to stay focused on what we have to accomplish?”
— David Allen
…and from our Aloha Archives: What can you Stop, and, what Must you Continue?
We now know the Mayans were wrong (thankfully!) for our world didn’t end on the 21st. Life goes on. How will that happen for you and your team?
As I look at the calendar, it strikes me that Monday, December 24th truly offers up this context of being a gifting day if yours is a workplace where you’ll spend part of the day together. It’s a day when providence conspires to help us be happy, hopeful, and optimistic. If you are a manager, consider giving your team the gift of some focus time:
Stop all the busyness and relax. Sit together.
Present your context — simply share your thoughts, just as I would share Managing with Aloha if I was there with you; in 2012, what has been your Ho‘ohana of worthwhile work together?
Ask others what they think, or when they felt you were all at your very best — what is relevant for them?
Ask how your workplace can be better in 2013;
Ask what will make it healthier.
Ask what will make it come alive with new energy.
End by simply and sincerely, saying “Mahalo — thank you.”
You can do this quietly — with pen and paper and self-reflection.
Or you can do this in conversation.
Perhaps you’ll do both.
This is what I know: When the Aloha of good intention is in the room with you, everyone walks out with that gift of relevant camaraderie. It becomes Ka lā hiki ola; the dawning of a new day.
Mele Kalikimaka; the merriest of Christmases to you,