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Find your anchor to ensure personal and professional success

When faced with a specific task or journey we need to anchor to what is important to us and focus our attention on deliberate steps forward, writes Darren Smith.

Find your anchor to ensure personal and professional success
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For a moment I want you to close your eyes and imagine you are on the roof top of one of the tallest buildings in the city that you live. Attached to the building is a strong steel cable, about 15 centimetres wide that is attached to the adjoining building roof top. Both buildings are 20 stories high but there is a gap of 25 metres between them. Unfortunately, the building you are on is burning so you have no choice but to try get to the other building.

You look down and a crowd has gathered below you. Your family is on roof top of the adjoining building waiting for you. The good news is that as a child you spent a lot of time on the family farm where you used to walk the thin wooden fence posts for fun pretending that you were a great tightrope artist in a circus. You now realise how important the lessons learnt back then are now.

You step up to the starting position. You take several deep breaths and focus your attention on the task ahead. You notice a steel pipe, about five metres in length, which you use to assist with balance. As you make your way across the steel cable you know that if you stop, look backwards or look down then you are likely to freeze and fall. You also realise that if you get distracted by the noise below, the wind that is whistling around your legs or the people watching then you are likely to freeze and fall.

From your previous experience you know what is required and your focus is on deliberate steps forward and to keep moving. It still takes balance and incredible focus but with each deliberate step your confidence grows and it gets easier. You count each step out in your end and estimate it is about 70 steps to the end. Step by step you adjust and you make it to the other side. When you get to the other side you feel a great sense of achievement and you give your family a great big hug. You now look back for a short moment and realise the journey that you have taken.

This analogy is very relevant to what happens in life to many of us. When faced with a specific task or journey we need to anchor to what is important to us and focus our attention on deliberate steps forward. What we focus on is what we get in so many cases and it is so important to focus on the things that we can control rather than the things we cannot. It is so easy to get distracted and derailed along the way. It is why a lot of people fall or fail. It is also important for us to use the support mechanisms that are available to us and the experience we have gained along the way.

The story is also very relevant to those that work or operate in an industry facing significant disruption. Focusing on deliberate steps forward will increase your chances of making the most of the disruption and minimise the distraction of the many things you cannot control.

Darren Smith is the managing director of Financial Advice Matters.