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Focus on the only thing that matters (and avoid Trampoline Trauma)

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19th November

This week, my four-year-old and I were on our trampoline, when she said: “you lie down and I’ll jump over you”.

So, I lay down thinking “hmm, a four-year-old’s tiny legs... trying to jump over me… what could possibly go wrong?”

Three very painful jumps later, I realised we needed to change something quickly; before things got even nastier.

So I told her to look at the trampoline on the other side of me and try to land on that; rather than looking at me and trying to miss me.

She hasn’t landed on me since.

As well as the story having a happy ending (for me anyway), it illustrates a point we often hear: focus on the future good, not the immediate obstacle.

It’s the same when communicating: focus your energies on the future good you want your communication to cause; and you’re more likely to achieve it. After all, if you focus only on the communication, you’ll think too much about that and too little about its impact. Here are some examples:

  • Nervous about the presentation? Build your confidence by thinking about why you and/or your audience will be better-off after you’ve delivered it
  • Want a meeting to be shorter? Know exactly what you want to happen as a result of it; and then think how you can achieve this as quickly/easily as possible. (When you do this, you’ll often find it doesn’t actually need to be a meeting, and a 121 chat will suffice)
  • Asking for budget? Assume your sponsor will say “yes”, and ensure your content includes what will happen after she does so. This helps her visualize the future good her “yes” will cause, making it more likely
  • Fed-up wasting time attending networking events? Recognise you’re only there to get (1) a business card of someone you want to speak to afterwards and (2) their permission to contact them. Once you know this, your conversations are quicker and more focused

So the message is simple and critical: focus on the right thing - the future good - and it tends to happen.

But obsessing about the communication itself deflects you from focusing on this desired outcome. It also can take ages, cost too much and be needlessly painful (something I’m now calling ‘Trampoline Trauma’). As David Campbell’s book title so eloquently puts it…

… “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else”.

Action point

This will take 1-2 minutes, but it’s well worth it…

Print off today’s diary, and - for each communication today - write what you want to happen after it. Now, focus all your energies on achieving these in the quickest time possible.

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