My Favorite Coaching F Words: Forward & Focus

Who doesn’t love a good F word?  Better yet, who doesn’t love having two great F words at their conversational disposal?

As a career, executive and entrepreneur coach, I lean on two F words to support the work of nearly every client. These words are: Forward and Focus. 

Moving forward is what life is all about.  That's why “Forward” is my second-favorite F word. When we feel the momentum of moving forward, we feel energized by and aware of the possibility of change and growth.  Our goals and dreams are, by definition, in front of us. When working with clients as their coach, one of my key roles is to help people define and stick to a plan for moving forward ... on decisions, challenges and opportunities. 

Forward is almost always the preferred direction, but it’s not the only one.  Going backwards – which happen when we’re thrown an unexpected curve, when we’re overwhelmed, or when we’ve simply lost our way – can be full of learning opportunities.  Indeed, when we unpack and understand what happens in backwards moments, we often gain skills or awareness we need to improve our chance of moving forward successfully the next go round.

We also sometimes find ourselves in sideways motion, as few things in life are drawn as perfectly straight lines. Sometimes we need to go off plan to try things or consider alternatives that give us ideas and inputs to help us navigate our way forward.  In many ways, it’s the sideways that keeps the journey interesting, even though the forward end goal is where we hope to go. 

Embrace the periodic sideways move, and the inevitable backwards fall.  But remember that forward is where our dreams and goals reside.

“Focus” is my favorite F word for coaching. I often remind clients that “Where you focus is where you go.”  This idea is so simple and so powerful.  When the focus of where we want to go is clear, it’s easier to make and stick to a plan, and simpler to prioritize among many competing demands.  Some people become paralyzed by the very idea of selecting one (or a few) thing to focus on.  But failure to define your focus – in work or life – guarantees that your energies and efforts will be spread too thin or widely to make the needed impact on your path forward.

Developing a keen sense of focus is tough in today’s world. Technology, social and family demands, work overload … each of these challenges our ability to focus. But without focus and prioritization, we risk living in a steady state of overwhelm and failure to achieve what we desire.  Perhaps this explains why so many people are looking to mindfulness meditation to help develop their focusing skills. 

I love working with clients to sharpen their focus on what matters most, and to help them hold that focus as their beacon moving forward. I’ll end with a quote by one of the most creative mind to ever opine on focus, Steve Jobs of Apple. Here is what he said:

"People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”