ks5542.jpgZig Ziglar, the motivational speaker and author, often told a story called “Leaving for Hawaii.”

Stories are a great way to teach because they are easy to remember and contain an emotional context that engages us at a deeper level then strictly intellectual bullet points.

Ziglar’s “Leaving for Hawaii” story contains a mix of lessons on focus, motivation, and time management. He is a master orator with great stage presence and uses his voice like an artist’s brush, so my brief summary may not do full justice to his presentation. So please fill in with your imagination, starting with a deep yearning for those balmy island breezes!

Imagine it is Monday morning and someone just told you that you could leave THIS Friday evening for an all-expenses paid vacation for a week at the top resorts in Hawaii AND travel first class.

Just one tiny, little catch: You have to clear your desk, finish (or move to the next important stage, or make significant progress on) all your projects before you can leave.

Imagine the motivation, imagine the focus, imagine the burst of energy, the human dynamo that you become, the whirring buzz saw of super-human activity that results.

Ziglar’s punch line was that if you lived your life at this high level of focus, this incredible level of motivation, there would come a time when you could leave for Hawaii on a first class ticket!

When I tell Ziglar’s story, I occasionally have people tell me that they are so buried that they could never clear their desks. I have several responses to this. One is that they are missing the point of the story. I used to include the word “deliberately” in the prior sentence but eased up on that because some experienced that observation or conclusion as a personal attack their character.

Now I sometimes say, “Well, if you believe that to be true, I’m certain that it is true for you.” It is a personal choice to be problem-focused versus solution-focused.

I found my attention drifting a bit this week. I thought of this story and my personal variation on “Leaving for Hawaii.” It helped focus my energy. I hope it will do the same for you.