Module 15 – The Five Levels of Focus


Understand the five levels of focus and their application to leadership, enabling you to harness your team’s strengths and navigate challenges effectively across various focus levels, ultimately fostering a harmonious and productive work environment.


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So how did you get on with looking around you, looking for hard-wired behavior and thinking about creating new wiring in brains to create new patterns of behavior. I trust that you’ve come up with some useful insights that might help you think about how to manage change.

Now before we come back to look at change, in this segment, I would like to talk about levels of focus. The five levels of focus, which relate to how our brains’ function, and that limbic response when the prefrontal cortex gets shut down, the amygdala takes over in that threat situation. Remember we spoke about that the other day.

Now we said that that is a part of the brain, or that’s a response which doesn’t help us in a business situation. And what it does is it takes us away from thinking clearly and logically and takes us into a response which is simply about survival in one way or another. So if that’s inefficient thinking, we want to avoid that. We need to try and make sure that we are aware of that situation, and we keep ourselves thinking at the right level.

So these five levels of focus give us a way of looking at that and seeing that in the business situation, so that we can become sensitized to when we’re thinking at the right level, or when we are not. So you’ll see from the diagram that there are five, and they run from the top.

Vision. Vision is long term, expansive. This is when we are at our most relaxed, brains are working at their best. The prefrontal cortex is thinking about long-term visions, about big plans.

The next level down is planning. We’re starting to get into some detail, but it’s still about how do we structure and make our vision work. Our prefrontal cortex is still engaged, but we’re starting to get tied up in more and more details.

The next level down is the detail. This is when we’re really starting to think through the nitty-gritty of how we implement our plans.

Then as we come down, we get into the area of the problem. This is the big challenge. This is maybe the intractable one, the one that’s really hard to solve. The one that we really start to get anxious about, a bit excited, then we get stuck. And this is not always a good place to be, because this is where we’re starting to get into a threat situation, and we’re not working as efficiently, when all we can see is the problem, and not the solution.

And then the bottom level is the drama. It’s the panic, it’s the crisis. That is when we are definitely in the fight or flight response, we’re not thinking clearly, we are just stuck in the drama situation. Now if it’s a crisis, a genuine crisis, a fire, that’s fine. But if we are creating drama out of every single business situation, then we’re into the ball game of fire fighting, where it’s a ball game of just getting by. And in fact, it’s a tiring, wearying, and highly inefficient way to be working. And quite frankly, your brain resources, and the brain resources of your team will not be deployed to best effect.

So, look out for when your team members are stuck in the drama or the problem. And look to try and calm the situation down. Ask them bigger, more challenging questions about the lessons they can learn about the bigger picture, the implications, and the simple solutions, the big solutions to this problem. Take them out the detail, and back up into planning and vision, where the brains will be more efficient, and where you should be all of the time.

Lots more to read about this, but how about think about that today, as to whether the drama end or the vision end of the five levels of focus. And then tomorrow, we’ll start talking about stretching the brain and goal setting.