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Focal Point: A Proven System to Simplify Your Life, Double Your Productivity, and Achieve All Your Goals

Focal Point: A Proven System to Simplify Your Life, Double Your Productivity, and Achieve All Your Goals

4.5 4
by Brian Tracy

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"The true secret of high achievers is that they know how to find their ""focal point"" -- the one thing they should do, at any given moment, to get the best possible results in each area of their lives. In Focal Point, Tracy brings together the very best ideas on personal management into a simple,


"The true secret of high achievers is that they know how to find their ""focal point"" -- the one thing they should do, at any given moment, to get the best possible results in each area of their lives. In Focal Point, Tracy brings together the very best ideas on personal management into a simple, easy-to-use plan.

Focal Point helps readers analyze their lives in seven key areas and shows them how to develop focused goals and plans in each. Finally in paperback, this best-selling guide provides timeless truths that have been discovered by the most effective people throughout the ages, answering questions like:

• ""How can I get control of my time and my life?""

• ""How can I achieve maximum career success and still balance my personal life?""

• ""How can I accelerate the achievement of all my goals?""

Focal Point shows readers how to develop absolute clarity about what they want, and how they can achieve supreme satisfaction, both personally and professionally."

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This is a book that must be reread whenever you think you’ve lost your focus.”

— Jim Pawlak, syndicated columnist

“…his [Tracy’s] book offers relief to frustrated business people with too many professional and personal demands on their time — which is to say, all of us.”


“If you want to strengthen your life, your effectiveness, and your happiness, you’ll discover a great friend in Focal Point. And you’ll probably recommend it to your friends.”

--The Midwest Book Review

“…author Brian Tracy packs a punch that could assist anyone…in running their work lives and personal lives more efficiently.”

--The Wire

“After reading this book, you can accomplish more in the next couple of years than most people achieve in a lifetime!”

Today’s Chicago Woman

Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Focus Your Attention and Actions on What You Want to Achieve
Every person wants to achieve better, faster, easier results in his or her life, but most people are unsure of where they need to apply changes to get the right outcome. The place where we focus our energies is our focal point, and determining where to apply our time and effort takes some concentration and skill.

To deliver this skill in an era of uncertainty, personal development and success guru Brian Tracy offers a new primer on improving the quality of life and work. In this new book, Focal Point, Tracy writes, "Just as the focused energy in a laser beam cuts through steel, your ability to choose the most vital element of any situation will enable you to perform at extraordinary levels in any endeavor."

Four Basic Steps
Tracy's Focal Point Process involves four basic steps that anyone can take:

  1. Do more of the things that bring you greater rewards and satisfaction.
  2. Do less of certain things that do not help you accomplish the things you want.
  3. Start to do things you are not doing at all today.
  4. Stop doing certain things altogether if they are inconsistent with what you want and where you want to go.

These simple steps contain the essential building blocks necessary to bring about the changes that can turn anybody's life around. First, a person must have the desire to change. Then, he or she must decide to make the change. With the will to persist until desired results are achieved, anyone is ready to improve his or her world and unlock dormant potential.

Using real-life stories about the people who have taken his advice andsuccessfully changed the course of their lives, Tracy is able to illustrate his basic steps and plot a clear path toward higher achievement and amazing turnarounds.

The 80/20 Rule
When people are trapped in a situation where they feel their energies are being sapped and their lives are out of control, he compels them to ask the question: "Knowing what I know now, if I were not doing this now, would I start it up again today?" Using this as a base line, he urges people to stand back and analyze their actions and make specific decisions that can positively change their lives.

To help his readers double their incomes while doubling their time off, Tracy cites the "80/20 Rule" that says 20 percent of a person's tasks contribute 80 percent or more of the value of the things a person does. Applying this logic, he advises people to spend more time doing more of the tasks that create the greatest value. Once they have identified the time-consuming activities that contribute very little to their results, they should quickly downsize, delegate and eliminate as many of them as possible.

Accept Responsibility
When people accept complete responsibility for their lives they will be better prepared to achieve their goals. This is where leadership begins, Tracy writes. Excuses, criticism and blaming are not the tools of a leader, he writes. Once a person has accepted responsibility for his or her life, then it is time to concentrate attention on a specific area of growth.

Question Yourself
Focal Point asks readers to ask themselves many questions. Within the answers to these are the routes to personal success that Tracy hopes to reveal. By looking deeply into the many facets that make personal success possible, he is able to show his readers that they hold within themselves endless possibilities that simply require focus to turn potential into reality. Among the many important topics he covers throughout his book are: productivity, simplification, decision-making, strategic planning, career opportunities, relationships, financial independence, health and community. Tracy turns each of these into another inroad to success and source of personal development.

Why Soundview Likes This Book
There is more to life than material wealth, Tracy writes in a last chapter dedicated to the inner self and peace of mind. By rounding out his book with more spiritual matters, he reminds his readers that true personal success is the happiness that comes when a person follows his or her intuition and inner voice, and does the things that are right for himself or herself. Because of this well-rounded approach to personal success, Tracy's book is a valuable resource for anyone willing to allow its lessons to shape his or her life. Copyright (c) 2002 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Read an Excerpt

Focal Point

By Brian Tracy

American Management Association

Copyright © 2002 Brian Tracy
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8144-7278-8

Chapter One

Supercharge Your Business and Career

You can do anything you wish to do, have anything you wish to have, be anything you wish to be. -Robert Collier

Once upon a time, people grew up, got a job, and worked at it for the rest of their lives with little variation. But those days are gone forever.

According to the experts, a person starting work today will have, on average, fourteen full-time jobs lasting two years or more and five careers in completely different fields or industries. According to a study cited in Fortune magazine not too long ago, 42 percent of the workforce is made up of "free agents." These are contingency workers who will move from company to company throughout their careers.

Each year, more than 1 million new businesses start up in the United States. These are in addition to the more than 20 million businesses that already exist. On top of that, hundreds of thousands of new partnerships, joint ventures, and sole proprietorships are formed each year. Tens of thousands of new products, processes, and services are introduced into an already crowded marketplace. Millions of people move up, down, or sideways in their jobs, companies, or careers. The rate of change, growth, and expanding opportunity has never been greater and, if anything, it isgetting better every year.

Here are three predictions for you: First, there will be more changes in your field, whatever it is, in the year ahead than ever before. Second, there will be more competition in your field than ever before. And third, there will be more opportunities in your field than ever before, but they will be different from those of today and in different areas than you expect or anticipate.

As many as 72 percent of people working today will be in a different job within the next two years as a result of the incredible speed of change, increase in competition, and explosion of opportunity. As many as 50 percent of working people today are in the first year of their current jobs. Whatever you are doing, your job responsibilities and outputs probably have changed dramatically in the last few months, and they will continue to change.

Andrew Grove, chairman of Intel Corporation, wrote recently that one of the most profound changes of the last decade is that each person today is now the architect of his or her own career. You can no longer rely on a corporation to take care of you and accept responsibility for your long-term success in your work life. You must think and act for yourself.

As mentioned in Chapter One, you are the president of your own personal services corporation. You are always self-employed, no matter who signs your paycheck. The biggest mistake you can ever make is to ever think that you work for anyone but yourself. The key to your success in whatever you do is to see yourself as an independent agent. You must continually look for ways to add value, every single day. You are responsible.

A sense of control is the key to a positive mental attitude and a feeling of personal power. When you accept complete responsibility for your life, you take control of your destiny and you feel terrific about yourself. You feel stronger, more confident, and more powerful. You become a master of circumstances rather than merely a victim of circumstances.

Your primary responsibility to yourself is to design your future the way you want it to be. Clarity is essential. The very act of becoming clear about what you want and what you have to do to get it dramatically increases the likelihood that you will realize your goals exactly as you imagined and on schedule.

The Focal Point Process helps you to identify exactly what is most important to you. It helps you identify what you need to do to achieve your most important goals. It enables you to determine the steps you have to take to get from wherever you are to wherever you want to go.

Determine Your Business and Career Values

The starting point of business success for both individuals and organizations lies in value clarification. Value clarification is an exercise that enables you to determine what principles are important to you and in what order. You then build your career on the foundation of these values.

People are happiest and most fulfilled when their lives are consistent with their highest values and their innermost convictions. High-performing people are clear about what they believe and stand for, and they don't deviate from these values.

Unhappy, underachieving people are often fuzzy or confused about their values, and they compromise them regularly.

You live from the inside out. The core of your being is composed of your deepest beliefs about what is right and good in the human condition. Your values determine your emotions, your motivations, and your responses to the world around you. Your values determine the kind of people you like, love, are attracted to, and enjoy working and living with. Your values determine the activities you most enjoy and what sort of work you will excel at.

You identify most strongly with people whose values are consistent with your own. You fall in love with a person who has the same values you do. You enjoy working for a company and with people who share your values. When you see your values upheld in the world around you, you feel happy and satisfied. When your values are violated, you feel angry and frustrated.

Stress and unhappiness arise when you compromise your values in some part of your life. Most relationship problems revolve around a conflict of values. Happiness in relationships is the result of two or more people sharing the same values in the same order of importance. You can resolve most of your problems by returning to the values that are most important to you.

Your values are organized in a hierarchy. You have values that are higher than some and lower than others. You have a primary value, a secondary value, a tertiary value, and so on.

You demonstrate your values in your behaviors. It is not what you say but what you do that shows you and the world around you what you truly believe. A person cannot do one thing on the outside and be someone else on the inside.

You will always sacrifice a lower-order value in favor of a higher-order value when you are forced to choose between them. When you are under pressure, you reveal your true character. When you are under pressure, you will choose the value that is dearest to you. You demonstrate who you are on the inside when you are forced to make a choice on the outside.

For example, imagine two people with the same three values. These values are family, health, and career success. However, John's order of values is different from Jim's. John's primary value is his family. After his family comes his health, and after his health comes career success.

Jim has the same three values but in a different order. Jim values career success first, family second, and health third.

Is there a difference between John and Jim? Is there a small difference or a large difference? Which of the two people would you prefer to have as a friend? If you met the two people at a social occasion, would you be able to tell which person was which on the basis of their conversation and behavior?

The answer is clear. A person's choice of values determines his or her character and personality. In general, it determines his or her priorities and choices. It dictates his or her conversation and interests. A person's values determine what he or she will do and won't do. The order of a person's values is the critical factor in shaping his or her destiny.

Values are reflected in how people behave when they are forced to choose. Anyone can express high and noble values when nothing is at stake. But when there is a price to pay, a sacrifice to make, a discipline to adhere to, people reveal their true selves and their true beliefs.

Of course, as discussed in Chapter Two, tasks that are both urgent and important take highest priority. For example, a man who values his family above his career might choose to miss a family dinner if a very important meeting comes up; a woman who values her career above her health might take time off to deal with a pressing medical problem. Their values have not changed, but their actions reflect both the urgency and the importance of events in their lives.

You develop your values early in life as the result of the influences around you. If you grow up with good role models, you will develop life-enhancing values that help you to become a successful, happy person. If you grow up with no role models or receive no guidance in values, you can reach maturity and have little or nothing that you believe in or stand for.

Sometimes your values are called your organizing principles. These are the standards you use to judge your behavior and the behavior of others. These are the rules you follow when you make decisions. When you are clear about your values and their order of priority, you find it much easier to make decisions in the critical moments of your life.

One of my clients was a large conglomerate that was developing a telecommunications division. The first thing they did was to spend several weeks discussing their values and developing their mission statement for this new division. Once they had defined their values, they agreed on the meaning of those values and how those values would be used to guide behavior.

Whenever the managers or executives of the company had a question or a problem, they took out a laminated card describing their values and discussed the problem with the card in hand. They asked each other, "Based on this value, how should we handle this situation?" They then went through their values, using these definitions as the basis for discussion and decision making.

Interestingly enough, the company started with an idea and some seed capital in a highly competitive industry and became a great commercial success. The company continues to grow and is highly profitable. Everyone in the company knows and lives by the values. Everyone who works in the company is happy, enthusiastic, and highly motivated. Values make the difference.

* * *

What are your values? What do you believe in? What do you stand for? What will you not stand for? What are your innermost convictions and your organizing principles? The accuracy with which you answer these questions will largely determine your happiness and your career success.

Review the list of values in the Appendix of this book and select the three to five values that best represent what you believe to be right and good and true about your work and your business. Some values you might choose for your career could be integrity, dependability, quality, excellence, hard work, and customer service. Examine your current behavior to determine how consistent it is with the values you espouse. Decide how you will behave in the future to ensure that your actions are consistent with the values you consider to be the most important.

Select one value that you feel is more important than any other value in your work life. Make this your focal point for your behavior and decision making. Resolve to be consistent with this value in everything you say or do. Never allow an exception. Let this value be your guiding light so that, years from now, people will still speak about you and this value in the same sentence.

Clarify Your Business and Career Vision

The second part of the Focal Point Process is to project forward and develop a clear vision of your ideal work life five years in the future. Imagine that, five years from now, everything is perfect and your work life is ideal in every way. Your vision must be consistent with your values. Answer these questions:

What would your ideal job or position look like? What would you be doing most of the time? How much would you be earning? What kind of people would you be working with? What level of responsibility would you have? What kind of company or industry would you be working in? How would your colleagues and coworkers think and talk about you?

Practice back-from-the-future thinking. Project forward five years and then look back mentally to where you are today. Imagine the steps you would have had to take to make your future vision a reality. This exercise of projecting forward and then looking back to the present is extremely powerful in clarifying what you want and what you will have to do to achieve it.

What Is Your Mission?

Once you have a vision, the next step is to develop a mission for your career. A mission is an ideal description of what you want to accomplish in your career in the years ahead. A mission is something that is both achievable and measurable. A clear mission statement, revolving around your values, is such that an objective third party can tell you whether you have achieved the mission.

A mission statement can be very short and to the point. The mission statement for AT&T for many years was "Bring telephone access to every American." The mission statement for the Coca-Cola Company is "Beat Pepsi!" The mission statement for the Pepsi-Cola Company is "Beat Coke!"

Perhaps the most famous mission statement of the twentieth century was contained in the orders given by General George C. Marshall to General Dwight D. Eisenhower when he took command of the allied forces in World War II: "Proceed to London. Invade Europe. Defeat the Germans."

Your personal career mission statement might be something like this: "Based on my values of integrity, quality, and customer service, my mission is to take care of my customers better than anyone else. As a result, I will earn more than $100,000 per year and score consistently in the top 10 percent of people in my field."

What Is Your Purpose?

Your purpose for your career flows from your values, vision, and mission. Your purpose is the reason why you do what you do. It is the reason why you get up in the morning. Your purpose is the reason why you work at this particular job or in this particular industry in the first place. Your purpose is what gives meaning to your work and your life.

Both a mission and a purpose in your work are always defined in terms of improving and enhancing the life and work of other people in some way. Your mission and purpose are always defined in terms of external contribution. Your mission and purpose describe the difference you intend to make in the world as a result of who you are and what you do. They explain your value offering, both personally and as a business.

Once you have determined your values, vision, mission, and purpose, you organize your work life so that you live consistently with them every hour of every day.


Excerpted from Focal Point by Brian Tracy Copyright © 2002 by Brian Tracy. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Brian Tracy (Solana Beach, CA) is one of America’s top business speakers and a leading consultant on personal and professional development. A bestselling author, his books include Time Power (0-8144-7247-8); Focal Point (0-8144-7129-3); Victory! (0-8144-0750-1); TurboStrategy (0-8144-7193-5); Goals; Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life; and Eat That Frog.

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Focal Point: A Proven System to Simplify Your Life, Double Your Productivity, and Achieve All Your Goals 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Conor_S_OP More than 1 year ago
Many people struggle in day to day life with managing their time, and making the most of their free time. Brian Tracy's Focal Point helps to provide and guideline on ways to maximize the time that you have in your life. He provides simple ways for you to make the most of your time. Using his simple guideline you will be able to increase your income, improve relationships and enjoy more time off. Brian Tracy implements the 80/20 rule early in his book. He believes that 80% of your income is generated by 20% of your time and that only 20% of your income is generated by 80% of your time. He believes that if you cut out the 80% of your time that only generates 20% of your income it will leave you more time to generate more income, and more free time off.
www.StratexCoaching.com More than 1 year ago
In the first two pages of Focal Point, Brian Tracy tells an anecdote so powerful and real, readers could stop right there and still receive tremendous value. He walks the walk by making the focal point of his book crystal clear. But it's fortunate he wrote the following 222 pages, as he provides so many ways to translate the core concept into everyday practices. He applies the "Focal Point Process" to financial, spiritual, community, and personal objectives. Chapters include "Improve Your Family and Personal Life", "Enjoy Superb Health and Fitness", "Make a Difference in Your Community" and Spiritual Development and Inner Peace". The ideas may not all be novel, but the combination provides robust and viable touchstones for shifting to a more positive and effective mindset. For example, the "1,000 Percent Formula" offers the approach of achieving great change incrementally. The "Law of Increasing Returns" states that the more you focus time on activities that bring the most value, the better and more efficient you get at doing them, so your returns on effort and energy increase. "Zero-based thinking" means asking yourself, " 'Is there anything I am doing right now that, knowing what I now know, I wouldn't get into again if I were starting over today.. If your answer is 'yes', then your next question is, 'How do I get out of this situation, and how fast?' " Focal Point consolidates time management and prioritization guidelines useful in life and business. Collectively, the perspectives and questions both challenge current thought patterns which may not be productive and suggest new ones which are. Throughout, Focal Point encourages readers to concentrate on the activities through which they provide the greatest value, and accordingly, absorbing this underlying theme may be greatest value readers gain from the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is incredible! I read a lot of books similar to this topic and this is by far a MUST READ! It gives advice that is applicable to all careers and offers several different ideas for you to implement!
Craig_Mattice More than 1 year ago
I found "Focal Point" by Brian Tracy very down to earth in its presentation of ideas, technology for improvement, goal setting, life's planning, Vision and Purpose development. Well worth the read and time invested. Use a good hi-lighter and take notes. This is a fast read of 201 pages consisting of 12 well designed chapters, a very well developed Appendix and Index in the back. I will admit much of the information is pretty basic as compared to the advancements in personal development and self-improvement technologies since the initial publication of this book in 2002. I did appreciate his methods for self discovery, simplification methods to life's challenges, and probing, thought provoking self-examination questions. Gives one a new perspective on their current, past, and future situations. Again, the primary point of this book is we each have the ultimate power to determine the success and failure in our lives. The only way outside forces change our circumstance is if we give them permission to have such power over us. For one on a continuous journey of personal development, I recommend this book for your personal libraries as it adds value to your foundation and frame of reference. Craig Mattice