67. Focus, Technology, and Learning: Boundaries and Business Leadership, Part 3

boundaries and focusWelcome to the third installment of the Boundaries and Business Leadership series. In today’s episode, Sarah Stokes and I delve into the importance of establishing boundaries concerning focus, technology, and learning within the realm of business leadership. Our conversation highlights the significance of being aware of potential distractions and deliberately choosing tasks that align with achieving our desired results.

Furthermore, we emphasize the necessity of setting limitations on technology exposure and creating clear boundaries to safeguard and enhance our focus, ultimately contributing to the improvement of our businesses. We discuss the advantages of allocating dedicated time blocks for undisturbed, concentrated work. We also stress the significance of identifying and leveraging our optimal working hours. Join us as we explore the art of granting yourself the invaluable gift of focus for the betterment of your business.

Learn more about Sarah HERE.

Main Episode Takeaways

  • We get to decide how we spend our time, energy, and focus. 
  • Being intentional about our focus benefits you and improves your business.
  • Delegation is a learned skill and necessary for us as business leaders.
  • Technology can distract us from achieving our potential.  

Want to learn more about boundaries?

– Boundaries Awareness quiz HERE
Take my Boundaries 101 Course
– Do you want to overcome your hurdles of people pleasing? Book a free call with Mary!

67. Focus, Technology, and Learning: Boundaries and Business Leadership, Part 3

Mary: Let’s Talk Boundaries. I am here with Sarah Stokes, and we are on part three of our series, boundaries and Business Leadership. Today, we are diving into boundaries around our focus, including things like tech and learning. Hey Sarah. 

Sarah: Hi Mary. How are you? 

Mary: I’m good, thanks. How are you? 

Sarah: I’m dandy. 

Mary: Awesome. So let’s talk a little bit about boundaries and our focus as we are business leaders. 

Sarah: Yeah, so I love digging in if you don’t mind, one of the things that, that hurts my heart, right? As a, I’m an advocate for everyone’s business success. I want you to have joy and miracles, and I’m that lady, right? I want you to have like, well, my company’s called the Juicy Good Life. I want you to have a life you call Juicy good, and over and over again, I hear people being so mean to themselves or let’s just say it takes up a lot of our brain space, making ourselves wrong all day because we haven’t done enough, gotten far enough, didn’t, were not where we wanna be yet. So if you’re somebody who’s like thriving in your results, great. This is just something for you to look at. If you haven’t gotten your results, let’s talk about focus and boundaries. ’cause here Mary and I are ready to dive into this thing that nobody really talks about, because I think being distracted and busy, as we talked about in our last episode, it’s a little bit like business approved. Like if you had that red approved, right? If you’re learning, if you’re doing all the tech stuff and all the social media, like if you’re busy, it could be sanctioned by the business approval committee that you must be doing it right. Right? When really, you and I talked about this a little bit before we started recording, success can come perhaps in a more flowy, easy way when you choose focus. Mm-Hmm. That’s why I’m like, yes. Let’s talk about this because we are so distracted and opportunities to be distracted every single day and pulled away from your goals as a business owner and a leader, it’s infinite. And so focus is at a premium. Your attention and your presence is the new like gold standard. Mm-Hmm. Yeah. 

Mary: Yes, and when I think about the word boundaries and by definition being the limits and guidelines that we’re setting for ourselves about what we will and will not participate in, our focus, we get a lot of decisions around where to focus and where not to focus, and what we’re gonna participate in and what we’re not gonna participate in. And I agree with you that our presence, our energy, our focus, our time, our attention, that is a commodity. It’s a hot commodity. And that’s actually what people are wanting in their business relationships, that’s what people are willing to work for. That’s what people are willing to pay for. There’s a shift. There’s an energy towards getting rid of all the distractions. Yeah. And really showing up and being focused. And so asking ourselves that hard question about what am I willing to focus on and what am I not willing to focus on? Yeah. Yep. There’s power there. 

Sarah: There’s a lot of power there. And I just talked to a client today and she was struggling to be able to focus on the schedule she wanted. Mm-Hmm. Right? Because she was worried about what other people would think. So we’ve got like all these pulls on our attention. What will other people think? Right? What, what if it doesn’t work for me to focus? And what if I still feel this way after I focus? So then we get into the like, Ooh, squirrel, right? People joke about the, Ooh, squirrel. The squirrel feels really good for a second until you’re reviewing your goals and you haven’t chosen to give yourself that gift of focus. You haven’t maybe had a, let’s just say a service where you’re focused, right? People pay a premium to have your full focus for them if you’re a service provider. Right? Why are we not giving that to ourselves for the back end of our business? Why are we not leading ourselves into that focus every day and what’s it keeping us from feeling? Right? We, we don’t focus for a reason. We make up a story that it, we don’t have enough time for that really important priority task or I’ll just do this other thing real quick. AKA the dopamine hit mm-Hmm. If, if you’re like me, you love scratching off the to-do list. But at the end of the day, what can it mean to your business and your life and your happiness and your results and your goals and all the things if you give yourself the gift of focus. It is self-leadership here. Mm-Hmm. Every day it’s a choice point of what you’re gonna give your focus to. Mm-Hmm. Yeah. It’s a huge choice point. And then enter boundaries, because when we choose and actually holding to it in the world of distractions, whoo. Tough.

Mary: Mm-Hmm. And I think the tough question actually is what am I gonna choose not to focus on? 

Sarah: Ooh, I like that. 

Mary: I think that’s the boundary question is what am I not going to participate in? What am I not going to spend my time on? What am I not gonna focus on? 

Sarah: I kind of wanna clap and dance. I love that. That’s a great question. And then enter the boundary of, I’m not willing to participate in being squirreled for another course or another tick tock thing that I should know how to do by now, and blah, blah, blah. Right? Mm-Hmm. Not gonna focus on that today because actually my… so I help, I do this for myself and I help women every day do this, figure out what is mine to do. Mm-Hmm. What is the needle mover? What’s your like, I love the Pareto principle, so I call it your top 20, and it’s actually a lot less that you have to focus on when you’re in that sweet spot for you. Right? It’s not hard. If I know that networking’s in my top 20, that’s not hard. So I just set a meeting for it. Mm-Hmm. Right. But actually sitting down and writing some website copy, I’ll distract myself all day. Even though that’s my priority focus, I have to legitimately make a decision and then shut out the other stuff, what I’m not gonna focus on. And boy do I squirrel too, I do. And I’m a pretty effective lady and I still squirrel. Hence why I love this boundaries work. What am I not willing to focus on? Yeah. I love that question. 

Mary: And what about the question of what’s not mine to do? Mm-Hmm. Right? As business leaders, delegation is a learned skill and necessary for us and sometimes choosing what we’re not going to do and allowing some delegation, it can be hard. It can be really hard. I remember when I was a new business owner and I didn’t have people supporting me yet. I didn’t have anyone to do my books like bookkeeping or I didn’t have anyone to help me with kind of tech things , but I know that it’s not my skillset, it’s not my strength. And what I’m not going to do is I’m not a bookkeeper. I’m not an IT lady. I’m not like my own social media strategist. Right? And of course, sometimes you have to have some success to be able to hire people to support you and as soon as you can, yeah, it really does free up the space for you to kind of live within your zone of genius and continue to grow and focus on the reasons why you really wanted to be able to be a business leader.

Sarah: Mm-Hmm. Yep. And you know what I see people do when they delegate and they outsource? So its not everyone, but if it’s you, you’re gonna smile with me right now. One thing that I see people, and I’ve also done it myself, I will be like, yes, I’m gonna outsource this, and then I still stay distracted. Mm. So it comes down again to that self-leadership of, yeah, cute, Sarah, that you outsource this. You still gotta be over here and lead yourself into some focus because, I love saying, well, don’t do the twenty-five dollars an hour task dear business owner, if you are a $100 an hour person or more, right? Mm-Hmm. Don’t do the twenty-five dollars an hour task, but then you gotta actually do the hundred an hour task or whatever you’re, you know, I’m just throwing out easy numbers. Mm-Hmm. That’s hilarious to me because we are all so tempted, probably because sometimes we get to that outsourcing point out of sheer desperation or should. And then we’re so tired that we’re like, Ooh, I get to rest and rest is good, don’t hear me wrong, but I smile because I’m like, yep. And my friends. When you outsource and delegate, you gotta lead yourself into the focus zone, not just be like, sweet. It’s Cheetos time. Right? Ask me how I know.

Mary: That is a good point. 

Sarah: Yeah. Well, and it’s just something to smile about and laugh about because, you know, we’re here to help people through their own stuff, right? Mm-Hmm. And so I’m like, okay, what are the things that I needed as a little bit of a SmackDown for my own focus? And it’s earning before learning. ’cause I’m a, I love learning. I love it. Right? And, and I actually do need to focus and do my, what is mine to do, if I’m delegating other stuff, it’s not like free-sess where it’s free recess. It’s time for Sarah to actually focus. And I needed to hear that at different stages of my business because especially when you get a little money flowing, it’s like, Woohoo, I’m gonna hire out for all these things and oh, I’m still tired and distracted. So listen to the episode about work-life balance for sure. Because we do need to be actually on our game then in our focus zone when we delegate. It’s both and on that one. And to hear just a little tough love there of hey you know what? If you need to create cash and you’re spending it blessing someone else’s business and helping you create bandwidth, then okay, let’s show up for it too with love, but with love. Yes, with love and show up. Right? Yeah. 

Mary: Yeah. So I like that idea of earning before learning for sure. And I think that’s a great leadership strategy. And what happens when we aren’t sure that we know everything. There’s this limiting belief that maybe I don’t know enough, maybe I need to learn a new strategy or a new approach, or get another certification or hire another coach or get this business license or degree or, you know, whatever it is, that there’s something else that we’re missing. Like what, what’s happening there for people? 

Sarah: Well, right. We want, we want them to take their power all the way back. Right? One of the biggest things is thinking it’s outside of you. You do have the onboard knowledge to do what you’re doing now or you probably wouldn’t have started your business. Now if you’re in a trade and you’re not done, you know, and you gotta get licensed to be an electrician. Okay, fine. Not what we’re talking about here, it’s that not enoughness that becomes the song of your brain forever. I’m not selling, so I better get one more certification. Is that actually the issue? Or are you avoiding the discomfort of showing up and selling the service that you are here and passionate about? So we forget what we’re here to do when we’re in that mode I think Mary is, we forget. We forget that we actually have plenty enough to go on right now. You probably have everything you need to serve your ideal client for where you’re at right now. Mm-Hmm. And we think the minute we don’t have some like instant or real soon success or results, our brain starts to go well, what can we do to solve for this? And at our fingertips are thousands of programs. I probably own 90% of them. Dunno if you, if you do too. Thousands of programs. And when we purchase or hire someone to help us from that place of not enoughness, I’m so sorry to tell you but the result will be more not enoughness when we hire and choose learning, choose a coach, choose a course from. I really actually want this. I’m interested in the support, way different outcome than, oh crap, I don’t feel comfortable. I better learn some more. Make sense? Like it’s just the energy in which we purchase and hire will actually lead to the results you get. So watch and be aware of how you’re coming into that relationship with that course, that software, that tech, that social media, whatever that coach, it matters because if you’re in not enoughness, it can only create more not enoughness. Mm-Hmm. Yeah. So that’s when you go get an easy win, get some sort of win for your brain, some sort of evidence that you can go out and earn before you learn. And I, I think I heard it from Marie Forleo, just to give credit where credit is due. ’cause I was like, oh, I needed to hear that because I love learning. 

Mary: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. And I support lifelong learning, right? Yeah. Yes. We love lifelong learning. Love it. And we wanna do it because we’re valuable, not because we’re not enough already.

Sarah: Yeah. The biggest thing is that you have a healthy, sustainable business that works for you. Hmm, right? That’s what we’re here for, is like, you are enough and you are worthy of having a business that has your back. And so each day it is a choice of, all right, it’s time for me to earn. It’s time for me to focus. What sets me up to do that? What supports me the most? And if it is a little bit of learning because you’re coming from a place of that’s actually tactically the best next move for my focus. Fine. You will know the difference when it’s a dopamine hit, numbing, avoidance tactic. It’s a different vibe and you’ll know it, right?

Mary: Mm-Hmm. Yes. Yes. So let’s talk a little more about tech and how tech, we might need some boundaries around our technology. 

Sarah: I don’t know about you, but if you pay attention to yourself for even just a few hours a day, you’ll notice some real big habits. I can’t even tell you if I have a clean inbox in my Gmail or wherever I am. It’s almost like a neurosis that hits where I got a, I gotta quick get in there and delete the next one. ’cause I wanna keep this clean inbox. Hmm, what a waste of my life force. But I see myself, so I like to say watch yourself, be onto yourself with love and compassion. Just be like, oh, wow, look at that. Mm-Hmm. Tech has infinite numbers of distraction always available. It’s a buffet of distraction. Like you said, tech can be our friend. It can also be like an addiction that takes you away from your goals and your focus. So watch yourself for two hours a day and just see what are your little tendencies. Are you the person that just can’t stop scrolling on social? Right? It’s designed to keep us hooked. Are you in your inbox all the time? My kids ask me, how many times you check email a day, mom? I’m like, I don’t wanna know. I would not be proud because I’ve been trained up. Right? And I’m a very like conscientious person, and I still fall victim to this, not that I’m a victim, I still choose to be distracted by tech. So I would say watch, just watch yourself for two hours. You don’t have to watch yourself for a week. You’ll notice where you feel pulled, and then just ask yourself, does this take me closer to my results or farther away from my results? How about you? 

Mary: So what I think about when I hear boundaries with technology is more around like my personal limits for the amount of focus that I’m willing to spend on technology. So like am I willing or not willing to look at my phone the minute I wake up? Yeah. Or do I have some boundaries around what my morning routine is like, how I start my day? Am I willing or not willing to be on my phone seven days a week? Am I willing or not willing to allow some time in my responses? Things like that. So I think that there’s a time and a season of course for those decisions as well. But when I’m functioning as my best self and when I’m leading my business and my team the way that I want to lead them, looking back there, it, it’s happening when I have some boundaries around my, my brain’s exposure to technology. Hmm. So priming my brain in the morning for my first call. I need to have some boundaries around how much technology I’m gonna have before that. Mm-Hmm. And being able to show up to pick up my kids from after school and have a meaningful conversation. I need to have some limits around technology or dinner table conversations or having my phone in my sight when I’m coaching, I need to have some boundaries around that. Mm-Hmm. Because somebody reschedules a meeting and I get a notification or you know, I get a text message from a person, that might feel a little alarming, but I want to be able to focus and I have to be mindful of the context switching in my brain, and sometimes technology, especially if we’re getting notifications can kind of hijack our brain and create a context switch that I may or may not want to happen and I may or may not have the skills in the moment to come back from and refocus where I wanna be. And so my thoughts about it are more about like protecting my brain to get the results that I want. 

Sarah: That’s a really good way to put that. I love that. Context switching. That makes a lot of sense. Mm-Hmm. And how exhausting that is. It really is the antithesis of focus. It’s, it’s designed to pull our attention. So when we think about that, that’s a high level leadership moment of am I,. I’ll use your phraseology, right, the am I willing to switch my brain power back and forth and back? No. It’s actually just not leading at all. Right? It’s fractured. And fractured isn’t focused, and that’s not where your power lies, for sure. Ooh, I love that, Mary. That’s good. Yeah. 

Mary: Thank you. Thank you. All right. Well to our listeners, what would you say to them if they want to think about some boundaries around their focus, their technology, their learning? What’s your message? 

Sarah: Truly think about the results you want. Business, life, all of it, and give yourself the gift of saying, my focus is best because we all have times when we’re better at focusing, me morning. Right? I know afternoons not my focus time. Give yourself that gift of saying I’m at my best from, you know, it could be 10 to two, whatever it is for you. 10 to 11. My husband’s like 10 to noon. I’m, I’m all the worlds and the rest after that. Bye. Like I love that he knows that about himself. He’s like, I’m good from 10 to 12. Okay, cool. When are you at your best? When are you setting yourself up for success with focus? And give yourself that gift and don’t worry about it. But when we give ourselves even two hours a day where we’re not beholden to tech, we’re not beholden to everybody else’s needs, what could that do for your business and life? What could two hours of focus versus five hours of fractured mean in your world? I bet it would move mountains for you. And think how often we just don’t do it. Mm-Hmm. Two hours of focus versus five hours of fractured, it would be a game changer. Yeah. 

Mary: I love that invitation to make an appointment with yourself, to schedule two hours of focus time during your work day and to really honor that commitment, to not be distracted and to control your brain and focus on the things that you’ve previously decided you wanna focus on. I, I wonder how, if we were all able to kind of play with that, how much success we would be able to have as leaders in our businesses. 

Sarah: I’m, I’m like, I’m getting excited. Yeah. ’cause I think it could be just revolutionary.

Mary: Absolutely. 

Sarah: When’s the last time I did that for myself? I give myself a morning of focus, but there’s fractured in there. Yeah. So yeah. I I’m gonna try it on. How about you? 

Mary: Yeah, I’ll try it. Let’s try it. 

Sarah: Let’s try it. Sounds good. Let’s report back. 

Mary: Alright, sounds good. Alright. My and my message to listeners is um, kind of wrapping up, is that your focus is up to you that you really do have some decision-making around how you spend your time and your attention and your energy, and that is valuable. It’s important. It’s what’s gonna move the needle in your business. It’s what’s gonna give you the work-life balance that you seek. It’s what people are gonna pay the big bucks for. And I invite you to just consider how you are honoring that focus, how you’re shepherding that focus, how you are showing up around your focus in protecting your brain and the context switching that naturally happens, but also can be protected. So I invite you to do that.