Thursday, 18 February 2010

A Powerful Business Lesson from Dame Vivienne Westwood

To celebrate the launch of London Fashion Week, 18-24 February, Stylist Magazine recently asked three fashion icons Dame Vivienne Westwood, Manolo Blahnik and Giles Deacon to design a cover for their magazine and that's as far as their brief went.

The ensuing designs couldn't have been more different and while I didn't really like the design by Vivienne Westwood I was struck by the fact that she was the only one whose design was about something other than fashion and this prompted me to read her interview.

What stood out for me in this interview was her response to the question what other designers are you looking forward to seeing:

"I'm very sorry but I never follow fashion so I don't know. My time is occupied by doing my own collections and then what's called 'all these other things' – like going to galleries and concerts and reading. It would be lovely to be able to give some encouragement to young people, but I haven't seen anything and I don't know anybody."

I suspect that within this answer is partially at least the secret to Vivienne Westwood's success and, by the same token, the reason why so many entrepreneurs and business owners fail.

Vivienne Westwood is incredibly focused.

Now I know that one could deduce other things from this statement but no one achieves great success without being focused. And I admit that her approach has its drawbacks. For instance, one would imagine that she could gain inspiration from other designers and she herself admitted that she would like to encourage more upcoming designers, but it would seem that she draws her inspiration from lots of other sources. And she has clearly developed her own winning formula that has kept her on the cutting edge of fashion for nearly two decades.

It's so easy for aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs to get distracted these days. There's always the next best thing to try out. It's also easy to get distracted in the day-to-day minutiae, flitting from one thing to the next, to be busy and yet not productive.

Just as personal development experts accept that you become what you think about, business experts are unanimous in stating that lack of focus is a key stumbling block for the majority of business owners and entrepreneurs. However, here's the dilemma or dichotomy of being focused. You see you have to be focused on the task at hand and you also have to focus on your grand vision of how you see your business enterprise developing in the future.

Maintaining your focus on your future goals will help you achieve your goals if, and only if, you're also able to balance this with remaining focused on and completing your first and highest leveraged task in the present, and then transferring your focus to completing the next most important task and so on.

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