10 Thoughts on Focus

10 Thoughts on Focus

One of our goals here at The Sparkline is to elevate how you think about yourself and your business by exposing you to ideas and people who have helped us along the way.

You are a human. We think that’s your greatest business asset. Through your humanity you experience and intuit and empathize and create. That’s business, baby.

Our humanity is a danger as well. We slip into vanity, insecurity, fear, isolation.

In some ways this is the whole point of The Sparkline and Fizzle… to help you navigate the maze between the engaged, creative, joyful, ruddy part of your humanity and the fearful, graspy, destructive part.

To that end we’ll occasionally share ideas and people that have helped us navigate that maze ourselves. Today it’s a quicky from Brad Feld.

Brad’s one of four guys who have helped integrate my humanity back into the way I think about business… simply through reading bits and bytes he leaves along the way.

I read this short and powerful note from Brad called Focus Focus Focus. Here’s a quote:

But early on, especially pre or early revenue, lack of focus is the death of so many companies. Sure, there’s a point where you are still thrashing around looking for “the thing.” You are using all the Lean Startup and Lean Launchpad techniques to find your product-market fit. You are iterating and pivoting. You’ll want to use a freemium model to capture the low-end customer while selling directly to a high-end customer. How’s that – I just used a bunch of buzzwords to help rationalize the “search for focus” – clever, eh?

But at some point you have to focus. What word do you own? Who is your customer? What are you selling them? How are you selling them it? Why are they buying it?

This is especially true when something is working. You’ll feel like hedging your bets. But don’t – go all in on the thing that is winning. Do it over and over again. And build scale quickly with it so that you can start experimenting with more things.

Focus is a bitch. I searched for years for it, trying to exercise it like a muscle, trying to put it on like clothing.

Then, after 10 years I finally found it… or it found me. (I tell that story in the video below)

Focus really changes everything. Here’s a few things I’ve learned about focus:

  • Focus is “this, not that.”
  • Focus is like grit. Maybe grit is the momentum of focus.
  • Clarity comes before focus… Clarity makes the blueprint. Focus orders the parts, manages the labor, builds the house.
  • Focus is a battery… it’s an energy source, it powers you up. Fk’n cheezy sounding, I know. But it’s true.
  • Focus comes from earnest digging… self awareness, a real desire to find something, the guts to move on when you know this thing is not what you’re looking for.
  • Earnest digging doesn’t have a deadline… you commit to the work, the digging, the search, and to yourself as the digger. You can’t commit to finding focus. It comes to you when it trusts you, like Pressfield’s muse.
  • There’s a deep connection between focus and faith… the digging convinces you about yourself; who you are, what you’re good at, why you’re here, where you’re valuable. Faith is not decision, you don’t just decide to focus on something; you’ll fizzle out. There has to be a deep belief that this is for you… that it’s possible for you. Faith is not deciding and then gritting your teeth and muscling your way through it. It’s more like this.
  • Feedback leads to focus… From Father Apprentice to Ice to the Brim to Fizzle, The Fizzle Show and The Sparkline, hearing from multiple hundreds of people about what they like, what they struggle with, where they are and what they want has built a faith in me about what I’m good at, what I can make that’s valuable for other people.
  • Feedback comes from work… make things, then connect with people about those things. Don’t go the other way around.
  • Focus takes forever… It took me 10 years of trying pretty damn hard to get to any clarity or focus. I was the entrepreneur in the Feld quote above for those 10 years; thrashing, manic, depressed, way too confident, way too clueless… I was so over-confident about the wrong things and unaware of the good stuff I actually did have. This pressure didn’t help one bit. I wish I could have given myself a break and invested in the digging… which is a way of investing in myself.


Focus — earnest digging for what I want with no deadlines on the dig
  or copy + Facebook

More on Digging

I have more thoughts, I think, but that’s all I can get out this morning. Go read the rest of the Brad Feld article.

Also, here’s a video I made telling the story of how focus found me during the making of Fizzle. Enjoy.

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  • http://thefamilypreneurs.com/ Sarah South

    You articulated your thoughts beautifully while remaining real and non-robotic. You should write a book one day about all this. It would be one of those, “laugh until you cry, cry until you laugh” types of books. People would read it.

    Glad you found your thing.

    • Chase Reeves

      This is the book. You just read it! How’d you like it? It’s self published. I’m an author now!

      • http://thefamilypreneurs.com/ Sarah South

        Short, sweet, and to the point. That’s the way all books should be!

        Also, your shirt matches your drawing in the video. Way to be congruent!

  • Rick Silva

    Nice video. But now I have the strangest craving for KFC.

  • Gil Michelini

    Great video. Classic Chase! Reminds of “The Power of Focus” by Canfield, Hansen, and Hewitt.

  • Mia Sherwood Landau

    Focus Factor: Don’t Hate On The Digging… I want to read the whole book you need to write on this topic you really nailed today. Great list, it’s printed and on my wall now. Video is a little wierd, but I’ll give you that for your viral video possibilities. Thank you for a terrific message, for real.

  • http://www.SelfEmployedKing.com/ Mike Kawula

    Great message Chase.

    I keep the attached photo in front of me daily to remind me of the digging. People can definitely get frustrated with themselves during the digging process but when you hit that sweet spot…..bamm.

    Its that testing, invalidating/validating until you get there. Loved this video. ~ Mike

  • Kristine Bonilla-Dutra

    Hilarious! “don’t hate the digging” LOVE it!

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    For the last 12 years I’ve had a day job and had to work on my thing on the side, I thought once I got rid of the day job that I would have all this time. I’m now finally supported by my thing and over the last few weeks it seems I didn’t have enough time to do all the things I wanted to. This post is timely because I know my focus on off and wrong. I’ve been running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off instead of focusing on what I need to focus on.

  • http://www.jasonloveslife.com/ Jason Love

    Great Video Chase. I call my project search system the reverse shotgun effect. Starting scattered and slowly finding my way back to the center…That center is me.

    Quick question Chase,
    What camera do you use?
    I want to start doing more videos…. Any recommendations for a set-up?

  • http://www.ryanjriehl.com/ Ryan J Riehl

    I totally feel like I’m going through exactly that early phase. Now I have some terminology and a diagram that I will probably never forget.

  • Keli Renda

    Was that wine? Niiiiice. Also, qoutable line “Don’t hate on the digging”

  • crainbf

    “You’re a human. That’s your greatest business asset.” Unbeatable:)

  • Andrea

    Thanks, my favorite take-away is that this should be a t-shirt graphic “Focus is a bitch”

  • Randall Pitts

    Hi Chase,
    I enjoyed your video and I’m happy to say that I’m finally finished with the digging and focusing on my thing. Nice to see that I did it “right”.

    Just a quick tip for you. At the end of your video you tried to say good-bye in German. You wanted to say “Auf Wiedersehen” – and for those unable to dazzle with their German language skills: owf-vee-der-zay-in

    I hope to hear an improvement in your next video. ;-)


  • Naomi Goodlet

    Ha! That video was a trip! “Don’t hate on the desert” :) I signed up.

  • http://passivelyfree.com/ Tal gur

    “Don’t hate the digging” – smart message Chase. I finally found my focus last year after years of (enjoyable) digging. Feels great!

  • Dina Lynch Eisenberg

    Excellent read, Chase. Grit is what separates the successful folks from the pack. You have to *want* to discover 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb before finding the right one just like Thomas Edison did. You have to be willing to be frustrated and wrong because some pretty cool stuff comes out of that stance.

  • http://www.bloggingcage.com/ Kulwant Nagi

    I am trying to focus myself for my projects these days.. So downloading your video to see if this helps…

  • Carolyn Mycue

    Yes!: “Clarity comes before focus”. It’s a bit of a paradox, though, because there was a point when I was clear about how unclear I was. Rather than loosing myself in the empty pit of “what can I do?”, I started asking “what can I do right now?”

    When we openly focus on what is in front of us to do, it teaches us what we need to do next. That’s where the fog clears and you discover yourself standing on the launchpad. :)


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