ar360I was reading a book by Mark Sanborn entitled “You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader” in a public library yesterday called Barnes & Noble (haha!) and came across an interesting story that illustrates the power of focus.

Here it is…

Bill who lives outside Kalamazooo, Michigan bought a new house on the edge of a lush wooded area. Bill likes to feed birds, so upon moving in, Bill put up a feeder in his backyard. But before the sun even set that evening, squirrels were swinging off the bird feeder and chasing the birds away. Bill realized that he had to do something or the birds would soon be too scared to come near the feeder, so for the next two weeks he declared war on the squirrels. Bill isn’t a mean guy and wouldn’t do anything to hurt the squirrels, but he was willing to use any peaceful method necessary to keep them out of his bird feeder.

He tried greasing the post the bird feeder was on, but that didn’t work. Stumped, Bill visited his local hardware store and bought a “squirrel-proof bird feeder”, an odd looking feeder with wire mesh wrapped around it. The label said it was guaranteed, so Bill took it home and put it in his backyard.

But by sunset, the squirrels were once again swinging off the bird feeder. Bill was now really upset, and the next day he took the feeder back to the hardware store. He asked to see the manager, demanding a full refund.   “Calm down,” the store manager told him. “I could have told you when you bought it that there is no such thing as a squirrel-proof bird feeder.”

Bill looked at him in disbelief. You mean we can land a man on the moon and send instantaneous messages via satellite to anywhere around the world, but our best and brightest scientists and engineers can’t design and manufacture a bird feeder that can outsmart an animal with a brain the size of a pea?   “Yep,” said the retailer.

“Why not?” Bill persisted.

“Let me ask you something, sir,” the man replied. “How much time on average have you spent in the last two weeks trying to keep the squirrels out of your bird feeder?” Bill thought it over for a minute and responded, “Maybe ten to fifteen minutes a day.”

“And how much time do you think the squirrels spend each day trying to get in?”

The power of focus.

“The more responsibility you have, the more hats you wear, the more likely you are to become more inefficient.”  (Dave Crenshaw, Myth of Multi-tasking)

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