What You Focus On EXPANDS!

Feb 21, 2011
This article is part of a series called Tips & Tricks.

I was taught long ago that “whatever you focus on expands,” and I wish I could credit the teacher. You have probably all heard something similar in the past. In this article I am going to do my best to put this concept into practical terms for the recruiting industry.

Based on many conversations and my own personal observations, the recruiting industry is coming back nicely. Many of my clients had their best quarter, not in years, but EVER! Companies are beginning to re-invest in their growth and operations. However, some recruiters are still stuck in “fear” mode and are focusing on scarcity right now, still thinking the business is in recession mode.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if you are in fear/scarcity mode:

  • Are you overly focused on trying to reduce expenses?
  • Are you worried about your business in 2011?
  • Are you worried about positions being frozen or cancelled?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these, you are in danger of making them true for you! You see, what you focus on expands. If you answered yes, you are at some level focusing on business evaporating. This is probably not a conscious choice, but your mind has activated its objective-seeking sensors and is sabotaging your work.

You might be thinking “Mike’s losing it,” but let me ask you – have you ever thought about losing weight only to gain more? Have you ever focused on reducing debt only to go deeper into debt?

Psychologists have proven the subconscious mind can’t distinguish the word “reduce” or “eliminate” from the word after it. The subconscious focuses on the word as a concept, so in the above example, it focuses on “weight” and “debt.” Since this is what the mind is focused on, it expands and we tend to get more of both.

It is much harder to increase revenues and profits when you are focused on minimizing expenses. It is hard to sound great, consultative, and confidant with your prospects when you are worried about hiring freezes, a lack of openings, and so forth.  My experience from earlier in my career is that when I was worried and focused on surviving, I sounded desperate! Desperate recruiters are given the assignments everyone else is given; the low fee, multiple recruiter positions because that recruiter unknowingly commoditized themselves as being one of the herd, one of the vast field of mediocre performers at best.

Here is the remedy:

  1. Focus on the concepts/words revenues, placements, profits, and commissions. Do you see how these words are one-hundred-eighty degrees different from “expenses” and “freezes?” This may appear subtle to you, but you are discounting the power of your subconscious to change its focus on your behalf!
  2. Write out specifically what “success” would look like in your firm or on your recruiting desk. Write in graphic detail and avoid the negative trigger words/concepts I mentioned above.
  3. Write out in graphic detail what this success would allow for you in your LIFE. A common problem many people have when they set goals for higher earnings and/or a larger office is that the benefits to them in their lives are not clear at all. Many have not thought this through clearly enough to create a vivid picture for themselves of what their own personal definition of success looks like. Sure they know they will be “happier,” but they are not clear on EXACTLY how. Each person is different and when I am able to “pull this out of them” I witness significantly higher levels of execution of their plans. More importantly I witness significantly higher levels of self satisfaction and excitement about their work.
  4. Define the activities needed to GUARANTEE the achievement of number 2 above. Avoid statements that aren’t specific like “make more calls”, “work harder”, “start earlier”, etc. How many more interviews do you need to arrange? How many more job orders do you need to take?
  5. Define who you have to “become” to achieve what you want. You see, we rarely get what we want in life; we DO often get what we are every day on a consistent basis. So, do you need to become a better business owner/leader? A better marketer of your services? A better developer of talent? What skills do you have to develop to become this person? Make sure you inventory them and put an action plan together to find the resources to invest in yourself to get you there!

I challenge you to study the five points above; there is a LOT in those very few words. All five points get you focused on outcomes most recruiters and managers want to expand. Don’t be lazy here and just read this. Take some action. Write some notes for each of the points.

Even if you only invest 30 minutes in this exercise and write out some beginning ideas, you have begun the process of changing your focus. If you don’t write another sentence for the rest of the year but simply read your notes occasionally from this 30-minute exercise, you will increase your focus on these concepts… and what you focus on will expand!

This article is from the February 2011 print Fordyce Letter. To subscribe and receive a monthly print issue, please go to our Subscription Services page.

This article is part of a series called Tips & Tricks.