Zen and the Art of Focustime: Work/ Life Leader’s Series

I am excited to share the first post in 2010 that is part of my Work/ Life Leaders series!  This series has given us insight from many of the well-known HR leaders and HR bloggers and I will link to their contributions at the end of this post.  Today I am honored to share a contribution by William Tincup of Starr Tincup Marketing.

William Tincup

William is a founding Principal of Starr Tincup and if you haven’t checked them out, you must.  Their site demonstrates their unique approach to the market.  They are hard core practitioners who are passionate about human capital and providing the best to their clients.  William is someone I have come to admire because of his unsurpassed knowledge, his straight-forward approach, his humor, and with him, there’s no BS.  EVER.    As you’ll see in his post, he’s also someone who is a very caring family man who also is concerned about his community.

Be sure to let him know what you think in the comments after the  post. With that, here’s William!

Zen and the Art of Focustime

The concept of work/life balance has eluded me for most of my life. I didn’t believe that leaders and wealth creators get the benefit of living out this utopian ideal.  Plus, as a self-diagnosed workaholic, I’ve always viewed folks that champion work/life balance as disgruntled employees hell-bent on changing my work-until-your-fingers-bleed office culture.

That said, I have changed my tune over the past four years and tempered the more driven side of my personality with something that resembles balance. I have managed to embrace this with a concept that I call Focustime.  Here’s how I came to the concept of Focustime:

  • Multitasking is a myth: I used to be a big believer in multitasking, but not anymore. If you are working on something truly valuable and important, then that activity requires focus. The very definition of multitasking conflicts with focus.  Yeah, I can review a Facebook feed at the same time that I’m having a conversation – but it depends on the how deep of a conversation. Some sales guy on the phone is no big deal, but my wife requires more attention. After I figured out the need to focus, I was able to toss away the concept of multitasking valuable things, such as initiatives, conversations, interactions, work outputs, etc.
  • Being genuine is essential: I had to part ways with a business partner a few years ago – turns out he was a complete douchebag.  Still, it was one of the most painful events in my adult life.  Truth is, I knew of his dark heart and cynical ways for years and had allowed it, but that reckoning and his subsequent departure jettison from our small firm forced me to realize that authenticity would be critical to my success.

I’ve always been skilled at calling bullshit on other folks, but now I had to call bullshit on myself. It was a painful process to be sure, but that failure was directly tied to my ability to be genuine at all costs. To thyself be true. I had to rid myself of poor behaviors and to learn to become completely genuine in all situations.

  • You must allow for “me” time: Two years ago, I was honored at the Fort Worth Business Press’ 40 Under 40. But at the awards banquet, my life flashed in front of me. Poof! I’m all about work, family and community involvement …  in that order.

The problem was that I had not factored any time for me. I’m an artist – I hadn’t painted in years. I collect coins – I hadn’t reviewed my collection in years. No me in this mix. No time for me. It hurt, but it was true … and it wasn’t a sustainable model if I planned to live a truly fulfilling life.

Something had to change. Work and family were musts, and community involvement at that particular juncture fell into the “nice-to-have” category.  As a result, I resigned from five nonprofit boards in one day.  It only took weeks before I started to paint and work on my coin collection again.  At a point in my future, I’ll find a way to work with arts nonprofits again – just not in the foreseeable future.  I’ve purposely redirected that investment of time back into me.  Turns out – it’s all about me.

  • Discovering my purpose: I know this sounds trite or cliché, but it’s true. When my first son (Joseph Henry) was born, I quietly questioned my purpose on this planet.  No one knew that I was questioning everything.  My skills, my abilities, my future, my relationships – everything was being analyzed and over analyzed.  Turns out, I had no real purpose to my life. I had been so focused on “what’s next” for so long – I had never really created a purpose beyond that.

My entire career had been built around getting to the next place but no real thought was given to why.  Why did I work so hard? After much reflection, I decided that I wanted to become a nice guy, a guy that folks wanted to be around, a guy that folks wanted to call.  That was a big transformation for me – I was accustomed to being the wild guy, the blunt object that was confrontational or inflammatory. It was a cartoon of who I really was privately, but not one that allowed me room to brand myself as a nice guy.

And as most nice people know, you can’t fake this. You either care about others or you don’t. I had always been selfless, but I had just kept that part of me private.  To become this nice guy, I identified a set of values that I would emulate: faith, love, hope and trust. Those of you that know me, you’ve heard me weave those into some discussion. I try my best to live those values every day of my life.  The keyword here is “try.”

  • Becoming comfortable: In the last 18 months, I have changed my role within my firm to lead our sales and marketing efforts.  I manage our brand, I talk with prospects everyday and I close deals.  When I transitioned into this role, I was completely terrified – mostly because I was about to manage all the “new” revenue of a firm that I care deeply about and I had neither real skills nor experience to do so.

I tripped and fumbled mightily through the first two quarters of my new found responsibilities with some wins, some losses and lots of learning about me. And then one day I realized that ambition isn’t an external thing. For me, ambition is internal pride and deep desire to become GREAT at sales.  For me to become great, I had to slow down and stop thinking about what’s next and I had to develop better listening skills.

I’ve always been smart, but I’ve never really listened to people in conversation.  I was too skilled to be in the moment – I wanted to be 10 steps ahead of everyone I talked with, so I was thinking of my answers to the next four questions.  Boring and lame.

After I slowed down, I actually learned that I had it all wrong.  Being in the moment was the best place in the world, and I’ve never been more comfortable in a role.  I love what I do for a living and I’m good at it.  The skin that I’ve grown into is one filled with peace.  And peace is the lynchpin of the concept of Focustime.

These five points are what Focustime is all about. When you are with someone, be with them only.  Focus on them.  Create tunnel vision around that particular moment of human engagement, shut off all things that confuse or trick you into flighty behaviors of not focusing on conversations with people.

Above all, invest in yourself AND invest in every conversation.  If you can’t invest in focusing, don’t hold the conversation.  For instance, when you are talking with your spouse, don’t multitask – focus on him or her wholly not partially.  That’s it.  Learn to be entirely in the moment.

That’s Focustime. It hasn’t been a destination for me, but the culmination of a series of life events that is constantly evolving. No matter how hardcore a workholic you are, trust me, you can be your own savior. This process can help you exponentially improve your work/life balance.

Contact and Resources

So, I know you want to get to know William more after reading this.  You do! Connect with him on Twitter, friend him on FaceBook, hook up on LinkedIn, hire him at Starr Tincup.  I guess you could call him too, but I won’t share his cell phone with you…..yet.

Other posts in the Work/ Life Leader’s Series:

14 thoughts on “Zen and the Art of Focustime: Work/ Life Leader’s Series”

  1. Great article. Nothing like realizing that “right now” is a pretty solid place to be. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. There is nothing like children, achievements or tragedy to bring into focus what is really important to us.

    And as I learned the hard way a few years ago:
    Longer hours does not make long-term success, Loving what you do, no matter how much time it takes, does.

    Thanks for finding the word.
    “FocusTime”

  3. A wonderful piece. Sharing the places we are vulnerable is a wonderful gift that helps others learn. On the question of work-life balance – it eludes most of us. Integrating and bringing our whole self to each and every role is a better alternative.

    Thanks for the terrific post!

  4. Great post! I really love the part about being in the moment as I’ve been thinking alot about this lately. My husband is great at it. Me…not so much. I am always thinking five steps ahead but I’m working on it!!

    Really terrific post. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’ve always believe that multitasking is highly overated. There’s nothing worse than getting busted when your friend on the phone notices you are distracted, and then hears you pounding away your keyboard. When it’s important, I stop what I’m doing and listen to my friends on the phone, they do deserve that. I can relate to your message here. Great post. Work-a-holism is bad for your health. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  6. I’m constantly being reminded at home that there is no such thing as true multitasking so I appreciate you pointing that out to everyone. It is indeed important to apply Focustime in your life. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  7. William, I know first hand you practice what you preach- bravo- I feel fortunate to know you!

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thank you Trish for inviting William to post.

    Wow William. Your points about focus and balance are good – but what struck me more than anything is your candor, and willingness to share your journey. Thank you for some great lessons about being a better spouse, friend, business person and finding ways to a more fulfilling life. Your post reminds me of the old expression about making sure that we are “human beings” – not “human doings”.

  9. Wow, thank you to everyone that commented and twittered about the article. I live a blessed existence. Trish, thank you for allowing me to post via your wonderful blog. I can’t wait to spend more time with you and the blogging team at #HRFlorida… that’s going to be a fun event.

    If anyone would like to get in touch with me offline, email me tincup ((@)) starrtincup.com…

    Thanks again to everyone.

    William

    J. William Tincup
    Principal
    Starr Tincup

    Are you Social? Look me up on JPIE, Starr Tincup, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and/or RecruitingBlogs.

    We’re the best human capital marketing firm in the world! || Selected as one of the “Best Places to Work” in 2008 and 2009 by the Dallas Business Journal

  10. @William- Thank YOU for writing a piece that has been very popular. I think the “focustime” idea is something readers can really relate to. The very things you’ve struggled with are things we struggle with, so hearing another approach to knowing how to filter it all is valuable. Agree that #HRFlorida will be a great event and I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

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