Individual customer service care, personalization, marketing segmentation and targeting, customer relationship management (CRM) and headhunter human resources concepts. Businessman with magnifying glass focused on one person.

How often do you hear people say, “we just need to focus” or “we need innovation”?

I hear both, constantly.

The issue is this – hyper-focus is great if you are making medicines or building planes or sequencing genomes.

A lack of focus is needed when you are trying to invent, imagine or find inspiration.

Yesterday, I was focused on getting to airport security when I heard live music. A guy was playing a ukulele. No cup out for tips, no sign saying he is desperate, just having fun.

We made eye contact and he said “wanna sing?” I said, “yes, I do.” He started to sing and I joined him. Soon I took up a harmony part in a pretty high range, which caused others to notice us (it’s tough to sing high notes softly). When we finished, he said, “what next?”

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

When we finished, I thanked him and took off for my flight.

I notice that some people are hyper-focused no matter what. They are intense, see things in detail and are quick to point out what does not make sense. They mistake intensity for intelligence, aloofness for professionalism and cynicism for objectivity.

What are you missing by keeping your head down and your nose to the grindstone? Click To Tweet

What is your business missing?

Innovation requires inspiration and it’s not found at organized “employee appreciation” parties. It’s found in gardens, art museums, theatre, works of fiction, on walks and in conversations.

Innovation needs an open and curious mind. Its executioner is cynicism.

The cynical among my readers have stopped reading. If you are still reading, it’s because you understand that breathing your own exhaust is a sure way to limit your success. You are more likely curious than cynical.

A client told me today, “every time we talk I think of things that I wouldn’t otherwise.” It’s no accident.

I am not telling him what everyone else is telling him, which would be to ignore “the guy with the ukulele.”

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