The importance of context

No matter how many times I find myself ‘stuck’ or ‘looking for direction’, setting a context never fails to get me back on track. It is understandable then, as coaches know, that this is the most common issue I see with clients. So what is context?

I like to describe context as a light in a storm; it guides us when we can see no other direction. It gives us security and reassurance and allows us to focus on one single point that will take us in the direction of home.

You can set yourself a context in any multitude of situations: a single conversation (are we talking about what we are having for dinner tonight or what time I’ll be home for dinner?), a team meeting (addressing everyone’s issues with the change in structure, or focusing on our goals for the quarter), a business’ direction for the year, your personal focus for the foreseeable future, what type of holiday you’ll take (kid-focused perhaps, or personal time). You get the idea.

Whatever you choose, your context then determines your activities and choices for the chosen period. It will simplify your decisions and allow you to put other thoughts and tasks on a list to be addressed for another time, not necessarily forgotten.

A true culture of high-performance sets clear contexts for their business and their teams. High performing individuals know that when they set a context, they have to consciously and decisively focus on only the tasks that align with that focal point.

An example you ask, let’s say your personal context for work is ‘structure’. You are keen to build a way of working that is structured and manageable. This means that anything that works against you building a structure gets refocused. Random or last-minute meetings have to be pushed-back on if they don’t fit into the structure you are designing. Checking email periodically now has to become something you do a set times. Do you take drop-in requests when you already have a set time for your team to work on their development? Not if your context is ‘structure’!

You can always change your context if it is not working for you. Try one out for the week, or just for the day and see if it provides you that guiding light you’ve been looking for to get you home.


If you’d like to find out more, join the conversation in our next open workshop.