First, a word about the title: Winning a Dogfight. I am not always fond of war metaphors. In this case, the metaphor is not the war; it is the discipline you must practice to win a dogfight. This capacity is vital as you lead your teams and business to thrive.
In this Key I am going to share with you a focusing practice. This practice saved my life and it can save your life too, not just in flight, but in business and at work.
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Winning a Dogfight in The Air
Life is not a dogfight. There is a lot more to living and working than a fight between two opposing sides. Many situations are not a zero sum game, where one side is the winner and the other the loser. We now operate in a world that is hyper-complex in more ways than we can easily navigate. You often collaborate with the competition, and co-create opportunities with all parties involved. This is a universe of exponential possibilities. In such an interconnected world the dogfight bifocal practice is even more critical.
The Dogfight Bifocal Lens
To win a dogfight you must develop the capacity to alternate between two lenses. The first is the full-theater lens. The other is the laser-focused lens. As with every skill, you can learn to rapidly apply each lens and build the practice of shifting adeptly from one lens to the other and back.
When do you need to alternate and shift from one lens to the other?
The relevancy of the bifocal lens goes far beyond successfully shooting down your opponent and not getting shot down yourself. In business you need to be able to alternate the bifocal lens, too. But let me first explain the dogfight practice and how the full-theater and laser-focus lenses are used.
You use a full-theater lens to keep eye contact with every moving object in the theater. This, of course, is impossible without having eyes in the back of your head, but the full-theater lens comes close to having eyes in the back of your head. Your brain triangulates and anticipates the location and movement of all the planes based on their maneuvers. In the full-theater lens, you are making an effort to hold the widest picture in mind. You attempt to create complete peripheral awareness.
How do you do it? How do you keep contact with every moving object in your theater? You focus on the full theater to identify and create eye contact with all players. Based on your movement trajectory and maneuvers of other planes, you then anticipate where they will be as you shift your eyes from one to the next. You don't look to the point where you saw them five seconds ago, but to where you now anticipate them to be along their trajectory.
The laser-focus lens comes into play when you maneuver to a shooting position. For a few seconds you must shut out everything else to create a moment of total focus.
As you come out of the total laser-focus, the part of your mind that was running the full-theater program in the background quickly delivers up the location you anticipate for the other planes in the theater.
That's the practice of alternating these two lenses. You must apply both. To not engage a full-theater encompassing view is dangerous because the one you don't see is the one who will shoot you down. Without laser-focus you are simply not able to deliver conclusive execution.
The Bifocal Lens of Management
Managing your business involves managing all stakeholders, processes and projects. That's your full-theater lens, where you continually evaluate everything and prioritize and direct resources and activities.
When do you shift into the laser-focus lens? Here are some situations:
- An important directional choice
- An urgent problem that requires a thoughtful solution
- A 1:1 coaching and mentoring session with talented people who work for you
- Negotiation with a strategic partner
- A crisis that demands you bring together new resources
In the laser-focus lens, you harness a disciplined focus on the one thing you are working on right now. You laser-focus when you drive decisions and action.
When you are not driving decisions and actions you need to take the wide, fully encompassing view to: monitor trends; review reports and progress; and study the signals of the markets, customers and other stakeholders.
Successful entrepreneurs like Walt Disney, Richard Branson and Bill Gates exemplify the capacity to hold a full-theater perspective and the flexibility to swiftly shift into a total laser-focus on the opportunity at hand.
In sales you need to alternate these lenses, too. In the full-theater lens you review the pipeline and evaluate leads and opportunities. In the laser-focus lens you concentrate on helping the client you are in conversation with right now.
The Weekly Bifocal Process
As you review your next week's activities, you need to evaluate and prepare for all of your important meetings and projects. You need to take it all in to prioritize your precious time and energy. You must then plan where you shift into total laser-focus to the exclusion of all else.
Now it's your turn. Turn the key. Develop the dogfight bifocal practice. Become versatile and agile to quickly shift from the full-theater to the laser-focus lens. Coach and mentor your people on how to alternate these lenses to respond to need and harness opportunities.
© Aviv Shahar