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You Get More of What You Focus On!

24 April 2012

When we are taught to drive at night we are told to look straight down the road on the side we are driving on, not at the car lights coming toward us. Why? Because we are drawn to the thing we want to avoid. If I say “Think of a pink elephant.” you will think of one. If I say “Don’t think of a pink elephant.” you will think of one.

At Aspirall we renamed the GFC to the Global Financial Transformation (GFT). If we keep calling it a crisis it will keep us stuck in it – crisis is what our brains will focus on. This is not to deny the reality of the situation, rather to take the opportunity to see what needs to change to create a sustainable global financial infrastructure. You know that Einstein quote “The thinking that got us into this mess isn’t the thinking that will get us out of it.” Our challenge is to be willing to change the way we think and therefore how we will act.

What’s needed is to move our focus from surviving the crisis to creating not just material success but a sustainable world. To do this we have to start with ourselves first, then our organisations and communities – the world will follow. We must start from the inside and move out from there.

We know resistance to change is ever present in any change effort. Some will fight, some flee and some freeze – a natural function of our brain when we feel under threat. When people are in these states they are constitutionally incapable of strategic thinking – they are stuck in their reptilian brain’s downward spiral.

We recommend embracing, even honouring resistance and using it as a tool. The result is a release of the passion that lives inside the resistance to focus on what you want. To free that passion, we must first embrace and declare our fears; initially to ourselves and then to those we trust. Sometimes simply naming our fears causes them to disintegrate, freeing our thinking capacity to see new possibilities.

Corporate life is rife with fear and one of the biggest is admitting that fear. Paradoxically this is the only way to live an authentic rather than a defended life and lift both personal and business outcomes. When we live in a defended world and we aim to stay authentic there is no doubt it is hard; the defences in others will surely try to pull us down, either unconsciously or consciously. If you doubt this just examine the politics in your organisation and really look at the level of interactions that take place without some hidden agenda; consider the wasteful impact this has on your organisation. However as we increase authenticity collectively, the power to make a difference and lift outcomes without being pulled down is enormous.

Our opportunity as leaders is to positively impact our organisations to free up our fears. We can begin with the willingness to ask for support before we offer it to others. This means letting go of ego and the need for control. Unfortunately presenting any vulnerable state to another in our society is regarded as weakness – it takes great courage. Our contention is that when we can stand alongside our vulnerability and own it without collapsing into it we are authentically strong and courageous and that is when others are truly willing to follow our lead.

The integration of external and internal factors is the transformational approach that is required. This implies bringing conscious awareness to unconscious intentions whether they are limiting or expanding. It is essential to minimise limiting intentions and expand those that lift us if miraculous outcomes are to be achieved. 

This process asks individuals, especially leaders, to fully commit to their own transformation by becoming aware of their fears and real intentions. Intentions (unconscious or not) in the end are more powerful drivers than stated personal or organisational goals. Just think about how many New Years’ resolutions you’ve made and not followed through on. 

In the end “Intentions are the results you get not the goals you set!” Understanding what inwardly drives us is critical to living in an authentic way and aligning our inner and outer worlds. 

So, what are you focused on? Do you want more of it? Yes? Then keep doing it. No? Then stop doing it. Are you prepared to pay the price of each choice? Be honest with yourself if you want to hold to your integrity and authenticity. What impact does your choice have on others? How can you negotiate an outcome that considers all needs, not compromise yourself and hold for the ‘greater good’ to create a Global Financial Transformation?


John Harradine and Tanya Diesel

Joint Managing Directors

Aspirall Pty Ltd