At 15 years old, I couldn’t help it. Sitting behind the wheel, equipped with a learner’s permit, my dad for an instructor, and no prior driving experience, I kept my eyes glued to the road immediately in front of my car. How else could I ensure the road was clear and I was staying in my lane? “Focus your eyes farther in front of the car,” my dad told me. “Glance in your mirrors more often.” It was scary at first, but as soon as I learned to focus farther out, my driving improved. This is external focus—the vision that provides perspective to improve results.
How does one practice external focus? Perhaps the obvious first thought is that we focus on our clients rather than our own processes or business. Clearly, it is imperative to make their interests our own as we advise them, guide them, and provide anticipatory insights. We must serve our clients with a sense of urgency—always striving to exceed expectations and deliver quality, relevant expertise. Focusing on our clients’ specific needs can provide business growth opportunities as we listen to them and collaborate to provide solutions. Yet, external focus is not merely about serving our clients. After all, serving clients well is simply a facet of remaining competitive in our own industry. To a certain extent, every organization must prioritize its clients or customers in order to maintain and grow business.
If external focus is a requirement for business growth, how does it affect career growth and personal growth? External focus is not only a building block of our Wise Firm culture, but also the foresight that creates successful leaders. Beginning with our Executive Partner Joey Havens and trickling all the way through the firm, we have leaders whose focus is external. They focus not on how their teams can help them, but on how they can support their teams. These leaders recognize a key concept: people growth is just as important to the success of our firm as business growth. At HORNE, team members are expected to own their career, including successes and failures, as a part of pursuing their Full Potential. We grow together by looking to each other. External focus broadens our vision and allows for increased opportunities as we see each other’s needs and seek to fulfill those needs. Learning to effectively give and receive feedback becomes a vital part of this growth.
But simply having an external view is insufficient—we must develop external focus. We can perform our tasks at work like distracted drivers, going through the motions but not recognizing danger signs or opportunities, or we can be intentional about investing in those around us and engaging in our Wise Firm culture.
The concept of external focus does not become unique until it is taken to a personal level. External focus requires us to look beyond ourselves and to remain engaged. It requires an investment, but it yields a clearer, broader perspective. This perspective helps us create value for those around us and for ourselves as we work and grow together.
About the Author
Mahlia Fritz believes that external focus is a requirement for business growth. She also believes that external focus broadens our vision and allows for increased opportunities as we see each other’s needs and seek to fulfill those needs.