• Concentrating efforts along the right priorities in an effective manner
  • Honing attention, time and energy into fulfilling specific responsibilities
  • Guarding against distractions and saying “no” to that which degrades high-quality performance

I often find it helpful to define something in both positive and negative terms when I want to understand it more – to consider it for both what it is, and what it is not. 

In this case:

  • Focus is concentration, assessment, attentiveness, thoughtfulness or awareness.
  • Focus is not willpower, determination, effort or intention.
Now all the qualities above are good and worthwhile for their own purposes, but to truly understand the benefits of focus, it can help us to first peel away the things that may actually be distractions.

Think of a sailor in the crow’s nest on top of a mast, serving as the lookout. Now he may be particularly determined to see what he needs to see (ships, land, kraken, etc.) and that’s great, but that alone will not help him notice what he needs to see. Good vision is typically not an effort-driven endeavor (squinting aside) and has more to do with having the right equipment (good eyes, or a telescope). If this sailor’s strategy for being a lookout is only based on his good intentions and hard work, he could actually set himself up for failure.

What will help Gilligan the most is to know his part in the crew, free himself from distractions, remove obstructions from his view, and devote himself to assessment. Knowing whether the sails are properly trimmed, the decks are swabbed, and the parrots are crackered won’t benefit our dutiful lookout. But making a habit of reviewing the horizon will give him the best chance at avoiding dangers and keeping the ship safe.

Working with E-rate, much like sailing, is a complex process and can be easily affected by distractions. There are appropriate times to knock down distractions and act on what pops up unexpectedly. But in the rhythm of the process, don’t neglect to keep your focus. Take a look at your procedures, your goals and your resources and make sure they align with the program rules, the E-rate calendar and your needs. Your good effort will no doubt be required, but taking the time to focus your effort in the right places, tasks or processes in the first place will help you keep your own personal E-rate boat afloat. 

Key Words and Phrases
To concentrate attention; Emphasis; Fasten; Center; Train; To have a clear perception; To bring to focus.

Opposite Terms
Blurry; Out of focus; Without direction.


GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides

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