Less Focus and More Blending

oct newsletter 2021

Even in sunny California, the season is changing. The mornings are crisp, I rarely worry about being too hot on my weekly hikes anymore, and often when I wake up now, it’s still dark (never very motivating for a non-morning person like myself!).

It’s also a big month in my world. My youngest is getting Bat-Mitzvah’ed at the very end of this month. Between the endless details (it really is seemingly endless), there are also those tangible sweet moments where I can viscerally feel my daughter’s emerging from girl to young woman. It’s common in some circles to do an iMovie type of montage of photos to commemorate and remember the Bat Mitzvah girl. Putting together this montage has allowed me to relive many memories encapsulated in one photo. In some photos, I can truly remember that moment, holding my baby girl and feeling her weight in my arms. In other photos, the moment looks dreamy yet I remember a lot of the tiredness and annoyance just on the edges, right outside the view of the camera. It is amazing how little and how much one blink of our cell phone cameras can capture.

Speaking of my youngest, she had one of those “no school today for teacher development” days last Friday and in one of my occasional fits of organization, back in August I booked us tickets to a highly popular interactive art exhibit at the SF Asian Art museum. This exhibit: TeamLab Continuity out of Japan was incredible and I highly recommend it if you’re nearby, visiting or it comes to your neck of the woods.

As my daughter and I sat on the ground in one of the exhibit rooms with a flashing moving art/light show around us, I noticed that if I turned my head right I had a very different show of lights than if I faced left.

This got me thinking about perspectives at work.

How so much of what you notice is shaped by what you’re looking at, and often what you’re looking for. Many leaders have their eyes trained on what’s next, a very useful focus area. But that often causes them to be more aware of what’s not happening and “isn’t yet there” than celebrating the good that is happening. 

The solution? Well, that’s the funny thing about polarities or dealing with opposites. There aren’t cut-and-dried answers; as a leader, it’s about leaning into the middle and blending more. Blending going deep with going wide. Blending commitment to your team and function with a commitment to the success of the full enterprise even when that means sacrifices you’d rather not make.

So my call to action today for you is, “What would it look like to blend 10% more?

For one of my clients, it’s about uniting his two distinct functional teams for larger visioning and ideation. For another of my clients, it’s about elevating and empowering her direct reports so that she can focus on bigger enterprise initiatives. And for one of my clients, it’s about constantly coming back to the idea of how he can scale himself and use his time to provide more value to his fast-growing company.

What does it look like for you? (I’d love it if you would comment below let me know!)

Yours in blending the importance of the Bat-Mitzvah, with the realization that it’s just one point on her continuum,

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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