Personal Growth

Finding Focus as an Entrepreneur: Lessons from Training Dogs

January 5, 2024

Finding what to focus on as an entrepreneur is my biggest struggle, which is ironic since teaching dogs to focus is what we do. My husband Jason and I are dog trainers by profession. In our programs we only teach functional obedience that improve relationships and the dog’s overall state of mind. How we do […]

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Finding what to focus on as an entrepreneur is my biggest struggle, which is ironic since teaching dogs to focus is what we do. My husband Jason and I are dog trainers by profession. In our programs we only teach functional obedience that improve relationships and the dog’s overall state of mind. How we do that is largely through teaching the dog to FOCUS and, through the process, the dog completely transforms into a new and improved version of themselves.

It’s funny, but I find that doing the same for myself is a real struggle. Finding what to focus on in business can feel like a floundering task, but I’ve found something that I really think is going to change the game for us.

Finding Focus in Parenthood

Deciding what to focus on in motherhood tends to be easier. What needs my focus tends to scream at me (too often quite literally). The kids need care, and it cannot wait. The meals must be made, laundry has to happen, and with eight kids, systems MUST be put in place or things fall apart quickly.

And although I’m certain I drop the ball many, many times, checking in with how my kids are doing and knowing who or what needs my attention and what can be ignored seems to come more naturally for me. (Or maybe, in all honesty, after 17 years of being a parent I’ve just gradually gotten better at the whole kid and home management thing and haven’t even noticed my gradual personal growth.)

The Robbins family, Christmas 2023.

Running a business, though, leaves more to the question of, “What’s the next step?” and, “What do I even want?” Rarely are things screaming at me that they MUST be done. We’ve worked hard over the years to make our business that way. Many of the day-to-day tasks have been taken over by our other awesome team members, including all the live scheduled dog training sessions.

How Can I Possibly Know What to Focus On In Business?

I often feel like a distracted squirrel constantly attracted to the next shiny thing (a new strategy to try, a new software, jumping to the next business idea we had, etc.). To add to it, what about all those great ideas that were shared in my mastermind group or that I learned about in that conference? Maybe I need to learn more about this thing (which I may NEVER implement), and therefore I spend the next few hours consuming videos about it. You get the idea.

Many of these ideas and strategies are great, but it would be impossible to do them all at once. And the temptation to jump from one idea to the next without fully commiting or executing is extremely compelling. Getting no where fast, as the saying goes.

To add to it, the things that would actually grow our business to the next level are the things no one is demanding we do. Granted, we have an amazing entrepreneur-minded team member named Madie who keeps us on our toes (thank heaven). But beyond the three of us, we are accountable to no one for the growth of our own business.

If I were never to actually publish this blog, no one would know. Or if I were never to finish creating that course I’ve been working on, no one would know. If we were to stop creating consistent content or never launch ads to our courses, no one would know.

So therein lies the struggle. Figuring out WHAT to focus on and getting my dang self to DO THE THING simply because I WANT TO. I want the growth, the change, and to be in a position to help more people.

Finding a Focus Through the 10x Process

I just finished reading a phenomenal book called “10x is Easier Than 2x” by Dr. Benjamin Hardy. It took me a couple of months to get through. For me it was one of those slow-to-digest kinds of books.

It has changed my mindset on so many levels.

Here’s where you can get it on Amazon

To me, the over-arching idea of the book is: get clear on the future self you want to become and the one big thing that will take you there. Your next quantum leap. The bigger and more impossible the goal, the better.

Then, move forward relentlessly on the path that leads to the outcome you desire!

So what’s with the title of “10x is Easier than 2x”?

Your automatic thought may be that going 10x in any aspect of your life would be 10 times the work and effort, but Benjamin Hardy argues that it’s actually easier than even going just 2x. Why? Because going 2x often involves doing more of the same, just at a slightly increased pace. It means spreading yourself thinner and working harder to achieve incremental growth. On the other hand, going 10x requires a radical shift in focus, a complete reevaluation of priorities, and a ruthless commitment to the most impactful tasks.

It means saying no to many things in order to say yes to the BEST things.

Steve Jobs and My Favorite Aspect of Going 10x: The EASIER Part

In my opinion, the best part of this 10x idea is that other things, by necessity, fall away. Those are just distractions that would vere you off your path of going 10x. Essentially, I must tame my inner-squirrel. (Which would be a blessed relief. That dang squirrel.)

As your focus hones in on that one big thing, the path to get there becomes very clear with little diviation. And the bigger the goal, the fewer paths there are to get you there. All things that aren’t on the path to the mountaintop you’ve purposefully chosen to summit will have to drop out of your life.

The way becomes more clear and driven. Which, in turn, is more simplified and focused. Perhaps even easier. Sounds heavenly to me.

Steve Jobs explained the secret to focus, which I believe not only applies to going 10x in business but also applies to dog training:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

(Source: Worldwide Developers Conference 1997)

A Lesson from Dog Training: Focus Kills Chaos

Reflecting on my entrepreneurial journey and the challenge of finding focus, I can’t help but draw a parallel with a lesson I’ve learned from training dogs. When you train your dog to focus on one thing, it helps them to calm down and live a happier, more fulfilled life. As Jason and I often say, “Focus Kills Chaos.”

A picture from yesterday when we had 4 dogs all practicing being on a “Place” command and giving them focus time where they were able to calm all the way down. Focus kills chaos.

In dog training, a distracted and hyperactive dog can benefit immensely from training where they are taught to focus. Teaching a dog to concentrate on a specific command or task not only enhances their obedience but also gives them a mental muscle, of sorts, that they can use to calm themselves. It takes practice. It takes focus.

In entrepreneurship, training yourself to focus on the one big thing – your mountaintop vision – can have a similar effect. I am already sensing the shift in myself. It brings a sense of calm and clarity to the often chaotic world of infinite possibilities and constant distraction.

Four Key Points to Finding Focus in Your Entrepreneurial OR Dog Training Journey

Here are four key points to help you find focus in your entrepreneurial or dog training journey, inspired by Steve Jobs’ wisdom and the insights from “10x is Easier Than 2x”:

1. Define Your Mountaintop Vision

The first step in finding focus is defining your mountaintop vision. What is the one big thing that will propel your business, your personal life, or your dog training to new heights? This should be a visionary goal that aligns with what you want to become. Benjamin Hardy emphasizes the importance of setting an audacious and seemingly impossible goal. This goal becomes your guiding light, and everything you do in that area of your life should be in service of reaching it.

Think about training with your dog. What 10x leap would you like to take in that area of your life? What would having YOUR dream dog look like? We have many clients who are absolutely blown away by what their dog is able to do after just the first week, so don’t be afraid to think big!

After a lot of thought, Jason and I have defined our next mountaintop vision in business. Our goal is to help 1,000+ families train their dogs through our online courses by November 1, 2024 all while maintaining a strong marriage and family. Boom! Now it’s not only written on cards on our nightstands, but published for all of you to see.

We are working with an online business coach who is guiding us on our next steps, but I trust God will lead us when inevitably we have to take some steps in the dark as we move toward our goal.

By having a clear, ambitious goal, you create a focal point that helps you filter out distractions and prioritize tasks that directly contribute to reaching that summit.

November 2024, here we come!

2. Embrace the Power of Saying No

Steve Jobs’ quote about focus highlights the importance of saying no to countless good ideas to make room for the truly great ones. In entrepreneurship, the ability to say no is a superpower. Come to think of it, being able to say no is a superpower in dog ownership as well. It’s tempting to chase every opportunity, explore every new trend, or implement every piece of advice you receive. However, this scattered approach can lead to burnout and dilute your efforts.

To maintain focus, you need to learn to be comfortable saying no to anything that doesn’t align with your mountaintop vision. Whether it’s a new project, a partnership, a marketing strategy, or the next tip you saw on a youtube dog training video, we need to evaluate its alignment with your overarching goal. If it doesn’t contribute significantly to reaching the summit, say no without hesitation.

3. Prioritize Ruthlessly

Once you’ve defined your mountaintop vision and embraced the power of saying no, it’s time to prioritize ruthlessly. Identify the critical tasks and activities that directly contribute to your goal. These are the high-impact, high-leverage actions that move the needle. A coach or course can be so helpful in laying out a defined path for you to follow, as a sort of trail guide who has been there before.

Focus on activities that have the most substantial impact on your business growth or your dog training goals. By prioritizing ruthlessly, you ensure that your time and resources are directed toward what truly matters. In business, this may involve delegating certain tasks, automating processes, or eliminating non-essential activities altogether. (I especially like eliminating tasks. That’s the best.)

Similarly in dog training, this may be focusing on just a few key elements of training each week that are most important, finding ways to incorporate training into what you’re already doing, and eliminating all the non-essential fluffy stuff.

4. Cultivate a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is essential for maintaining focus in entrepreneurship. You have to embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. Understand that setbacks are part of the journey to the mountaintop and use them as stepping stones to improvement.

To quote Benjamin Hardy from another of his books “Be Your Future Self Now”:

With deliberate practice, you can develop the skill of positively reframing any past experience into a gain. With practice, you can get better and quicker at converting pain into growth and purpose.

 Benjamin P. Hardy, Be Your Future Self Now: The Science of Intentional Transformation

Dogs are naturally so good at doing this. Dogs are good at learning from their experiences, but letting go of stories that would hold them back. As dog owners, we often struggle though. The trick is to use mess ups as training opportunities for you and your dog to grow.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy’s concept of “10x is Easier Than 2x” aligns with a growth mindset. Instead of fearing the enormity of a big goal, see it as a catalyst for exponential growth. It’s exciting! View challenges as invitations to stretch beyond your comfort zone and expand your capabilities. A growth mindset not only fuels your focus but also fosters resilience and creativity in the face of obstacles.

Often, as has been true for us in business, what you need is a coach who has gone on this path before and can coach you on your way to your mountain top achievement and unleash the new you (and new dog) you’ll discover through the process. We offer totally free consultations if you’d like to hop on a call with us, we can talk over your goals and see if we’d be a good fit.

Focus is the key not only in business but also in creating a calmer and more fulfilling life with our dogs. Just as in dog training where focus leads to a happier and more well-behaved dog, finding focus can lead to a more successful and satisfying journey in entrepreneurship. It may seem an odd connection, but I see it every day. Ah, the life of running a dog training business.

Happy Training (and Entrepreneur-ing, if that’s your thing)!

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