5 Steps to Sharper Focus

By Stephanie Zonars

In a world brimming with distraction, maintaining focus is more important than ever.

The best way to cut through all the information and interruption is to develop laser-like clarity around who you are and why you coach. Clarity also helps keep your engine going when fear and discouragement creep in.

The framework developed by the folks at 3Dimensional Coaching is extremely helpful (check them out here). The foundation is the transformational purpose statement—a concise statement that serves as a continual reminder of WHY you coach. Becoming clear on your WHY is incredibly freeing and will help you make better, more consistent decisions about personnel (recruiting, hiring) as well as what constitutes as essential vs. non-essential to your team.

If you’re ready to get clear on your WHY, here’s how to craft your transformational purpose statement:

Step 1 is understanding the difference between goals and purpose and exploring your purpose through excellent questions, which I covered in this post.

Step 2 requires the Stephen Covey principle of beginning with the end in mind. You already do this when you set team or personal goals each season, but may neglect that same practice when it comes to the bigger picture of your life. What are you aiming for with your life?

Maybe you’ve heard of Bronnie Ware? She was an Australian palliative nurse who cared for people in the last 3-12 weeks of their lives. She would ask her patients about their regrets and noticed common themes that offer us helpful insights. The most common 5 regrets she heard:

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
  • I wish I didn’t work so hard
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier

So take a moment to consider the end of your life. In a recent talk, Andy Stanley posed a question that can help here—what do you want people to line up and thank you for at the end of your life?—Tweet that!

Jot down a few phrases describing what you desire family to say to you, as well as friends and former players.

Articulating what you want people to say then helps you know what you need to do now—this year, month, day and even hour. If I want people to say that I was a loyal friend, for example, then how will I show loyalty in my friendships today? If I want to be known for serving others, how am I serving this week?

Step 3 will help you craft language around what you stand for. Ultimately our choices and actions each day illustrate what we value and hold most dear. I could tell a lot about what you value from looking at your credit card statement! Putting your actions into words by defining them as values will remind you what’s most important.

Values are like your north star. They help keep you on course. They help you decide where to invest your time, money, energy and your very life.

A number of years ago I decided upon 5 values for my life: Trusting God, Assisting Others, Living Graciously, Pursuing Excellence and Influencing Positively.

I memorized them, put them up in my office and on the front of notebooks. I use them to evaluate my daily and weekly activities because if my life today and this week embodies these values, and that continues in the weeks, months and years ahead, then these are the things people will say about me at the end of my life. As you can see, steps 2 and 3 flow together—the things you want people thank you for will tie into what you value.

Try this personal values exercise to get started. In just 10 minutes you’ll gain eye-opening insights and words to describe what’s most important to you. Go with your gut as you fill it out, not thinking too hard but selecting the words that you’re most drawn to.

After you drill down to your top 5 values, write them on a paper and put them where you can see them. Sit with them for a week or so. See if they fit or need tweaking.

Step 4 surfaces action verbs that resonate with you. Here’s a list of some common verbs to get you thinking. Select 1-3 of these or use some of your own:

accomplish believe build coach
compel compete create demonstrate
dream educate encourage engage
empower facilitate foster generate
heal improve lead love
model mold motivate nurture
organize praise prepare pursue
reclaim renew respect sacrifice
serve support teach value


Step 5 pulls it all together into a transformational purpose statement. Initially it’s important just to get something down on paper that you can wordsmith and tweak as needed. A few tips from 3Dimensional Coaching:

Be Authentic—this is YOUR statement write something that speaks to your authentic self, not what you think it should say

Be Brief—make it 25 words or less

Be Deliberate—focus on the relationships that matter most to you and the cause you are giving yourself to. Use words that will remind you of those two areas.

Be Structured: Think VERB(S), TARGET, OUTCOME. The verb tells how you interact with people according to your gifting; the target is the people you seek to impact and the outcome incorporates your core values into the result you want.

Sample statement: To encourage and empower female college athletes to become mature, confident women who positively impact society.

Some of the hardest work of building strong team culture is the internal work that ignites the process.—Tweet that!



Most of you think writing a transformational purpose statement is a great idea in theory. But who has the time to do this introspective stuff with all these emails, meetings and phone calls?!

People who value significance over success, that’s who.

If you’re in the middle of the season and your head is already spinning, copy the link to this page and paste it in an appointment on your calendar in March or April as a reminder to do this internal work. It’s THAT important!

For the rest of you—take the challenge and inspire our community by sharing your transformational purpose statement below.


5 Steps to Sharper Focus appeared first on Life Beyond Sport.

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Stephanie Zonars helps coaches build and maintain championship cultures through her business, Life Beyond Sport. Teams at Penn State, Notre Dame, West Point and over 65 other schools have built stronger trust, communication and teamwork through her workshops. Stephanie spent three years on staff with the Penn State women’s basketball team, assisting the team to back-to-back Big Ten Championships. An author of four books, she now serves as Assistant AD of Marketing & Promotions at Cedarville University. Learn more at LifeBeyondSport.com.

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