Frozen Pipe Focus

We were having a relaxing Friday night. Our family was staying in because it was brutally cold (-9F with -33 windchills), and I was finishing volunteer work for a kid’s school group.

My wife called from the top of the stairs, “Did you turn off the water to the upstairs bathroom?”

“No.” Which meant our pipes had frozen for the first time ever. 

For the next eighteen hours, I focused on preventing water damage and getting the water flowing.

  • I crawled into the attic to check the back side of the bathroom.
  • I texted my dad for input.
  • I asked a friend about his experience with frozen pipes. 
  • I googled.
  • I ran up and down the stairs dozens of times.

The pipes thawed out without bursting, and the water is flowing. 

You’ve experienced something similar. Your mind bounced between a thousand different things, and “something happened,” and you became highly focused.  

Because of all the demands on a leader’s time, it is commonplace to bounce between tasks, conversations, meetings, and messages. Leaving one feeling unfulfilled and unproductive. 

To accomplish what only you can do, you need FROZEN PIPE FOCUS. 

A few years ago, I was introduced to John Lee Dumas’s work on focus. His philosophy resonated with me.

1. Write down your goals for the week. 

Don’t just think about your goals – write them down.

2. Set a block of time

Dumas suggests using blocks of 45 minutes to focus on a single objective. Others say 90 minutes. You’ll have to decide what works best for you.

During this time, silence Slack. Turn off your inbox. Shut all your browsers.

Focus on one thing. 

3. Set boundaries

You can’t work all the time. You need rest and recovery throughout your work day and more extended periods of refreshment in your weekly routine.

Many of my best ideas come when I step away from work to walk the dog or shoot hoops.

4. Revisit your goals 

Cross YOUR goals off of YOUR list. 

I’m sure more things got added to your list today, but crossing off your goals from your list feels good.

Also, consider starting a mastermind group where you share your weekly goals. Accountability and cheering help everyone go further faster. 

5. Repeat

There are days when I follow this formula, and it works well. Distractions dominate other days. 

Don’t waste emotional energy beating yourself up over the distracted days. Tomorrow is a new day. Try again.


Brian Rutherford

Brian Rutherford is Director of Content and Product Strategy for Leadercast. Brian has been telling stories professionally for twenty-five years. Stories that inspire people to see themselves and the world differently. Stories that challenge people to take meaningful action in the world.

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