Dr. Amishi, an internationally recognized researcher in neuroscience, has said that our concentration is like a flashlight.
Our flashlight often gets pulled or pointed to something while we are communicating, or during a time when our concentration is supposed to be on something specific. What is important to note, however, is that there is no reason to become upset or make ourselves wrong for the distraction. On the contrary, there is power in the ability to quickly note when this happens, so we can acknowledge it and point it back to what we want to be doing or paying attention to.
When it comes to creating breakthrough performance in individuals, leadership teams, project teams, and organizations it is critical to understand what is drawing the attention of people. Much like a deer focused on eating some grass in a meadow and then quickly being drawn to the sound of a twig snapping in the trees, a leader can be focused on creating strategic direction for the next year only to be drawn to something else, such as a recent acquisition of their company.
Often, however, it is not the acquisition of the company that is drawing our attention. It is the stories or interpretations that surround a fact or event. These stories and interpretations are then what shape our actions and therefore our results and performance. Unlike the deer in the meadow hearing a snapping twig, the things that draw our attention do not mean life or death. Despite this, our brains are designed to give meaning to everything and take action accordingly. Some are in favor of our desired results, and some are not. Creating breakthrough performance, therefore, lies in identifying the things that work, and work against, our intended outcomes.
Top organizations continuously identify what it is that is working and not working in relation to the results they intend to deliver on. This ability results in a higher likelihood of breakthrough performance and mastering this leads to sustainable top performance. When individuals and teams at an organization can distinguish what is working and not working to the point they can smell it, taste it, hear it and feel it; commitments become brightly illuminated by so many flashlights that it becomes real and shapes the high-quality action to achieve it.