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Focus: A Cup of TEA in a Coffee World

Imagine that feeling when you have your hands clasped around a cup of hot TEA and can smell the aroma wafting up to your nostrils. You are relaxed and your day comes in to focus. If only it were that easy. More likely you are checking your myriad of communication devices to see what the day will dictate to you in a frantic, caffeinated fashion.

It is said that we create our lives whether by design or by default. One way or another, your day, your week and your year may be a story of what happened to you; but wouldn’t you rather it be a story of how you created the impact you wanted? A story of how you impacted those around you in a positive way and delivered the results you committed to delivering. Author John Rohn said, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” This underscores the importance of focus and determining your destination on a daily basis. This is where the concept of TEA comes in.

TEA is Time, Energy and Attention.

Several years ago my Novateur colleague, Debby Stone, and I were talking about how we often heard people say things like “this project is work”, “getting in shape is work”, or the oft said line that “marriage is work.” Debby said she had realized that rather than work, what each of these situations required was TEA – Time, Energy and Attention. What others were calling work was really the impact of the three components of TEA.

Debby says that the mindset shift from work, which for most of us is a four-letter word, to the notion of the impact of applying time, energy and attention to something can be transformative. It is a pro-active way of focusing the various aspects of life and the impact we wish to achieve.

I asked Debby to take me through each of the three components – Time, Energy and Attention, and here is what she shared:


This component may seem obvious and perhaps it is but if you want to succeed at something – anything – you need to devote the time to it. In his book, “Outliers,”, Malcolm Gladwell refers to the research that shows that it takes 10, 000 hours of practice to master something. Early 20th century magazine editor, Robert J. Collier said, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” You have to put in the Time.


This one is less tangible than the time component but equally critical. What kind of energy are you bringing to your life and to the things you say are important to you? Just showing up and putting in the hours is not enough. You need to bring energy, and the right kind of energy, to your desired goals and priorities to make them a reality. There are many different ways to think about this. In the book “The Power of Full Engagement,” authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz say that we have four separate but equally important energy sources we can draw upon – Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual. Loehr and Schwartz say that if we don’t bring all four types of energy to what we do, we are not fully engaged and not functioning at the highest level or as powerfully as we could.


The third ingredient of TEA is critical because even if you bring time and energy to something, without your attention, you will not succeed. What do I mean by that? Well, we all know that we can do something without fully doing it. This is what Loehr and Schwartz mean by being fully engaged. There are those things that we do where we become so absorbed that we don’t get distracted at all and we don’t even notice the passage of time. Then there are other things where we are physically present – we’ve shown up – but we’re not really there. In order for TEA to work, you need to be fully present and really there. This means bringing your full attention to whatever you are focused on achieving.

Having a clear focus and a real priority makes the odds of achieving it much better. Remember, we are all creating our lives whether by design or by default, so design yours. Then keep in mind that it is not “Work” that will help you achieve your goal; rather it is TEA– Time, Energy and Attention. The question is: Where will you focus yours?

What will you do today to make this happen?