The Art of Focusing-ing

I’ve done some significant soul-searching as of recent in terms of where I’m spending a lot of my time and how I’m focusing my work so that my performance, effectiveness, and happiness is at it’s maximum.

The result? Focus. Or the act of focusing: Focusing-ing (or something like that).

And I love where I’m headed with it.

Bankrupt (Life Management Fail)

Again, much of this is directly from my Pastor Andy Stanley and all of his Leadership Team.

Since I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m pretty much bankrupt in terms of a systematic approach to life management I’ve decided to completely copy a model that appears to be working for many.

In fact, not only does it appear to be working but I know in my heart (and spirit) that it’s the right thing for me to do at this time in my life.

For starters I’ve committed myself to follow the Core Values that North Point Ministries believes in. There are 7 of them and I’m going to try to “get” all of them this year. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been able to practice many of them because of the way I’ve aligned my life and where I’ve committed my available time.

Guilty.

But, that’s all going to change. The more I blog about it and the more I ask God for guidance in these areas the more it happens. It’s kind of freaky.

Core Competencies, Interests & Opportunities

Another thing that I’m completely in love with and have only just begun actually doing is focusing on my core competencies and skills that I’ve been given.

Here’s the challenge: The number of opportunities and interests that I have is not equal to the number of core strengths and gifts that I’ve been given. For every 1 identified core strength that I have I’ve got about 10 opportunities and 100 interests.

Dang it.

It’s just not sustainable, and I’ve been running too hard and too fast at things that are less-than satisfying and that aren’t leveraging all of who I am. In essence I simply am not being the most effective that I can possibly be.

But I’m very hopeful for the changes being made.

Saying No Means Yes

I honestly can’t believe I get to have personal coaching by some of the best leaders on the planet. I sat down with Jeff Henderson earlier this week he reminded me of the following:

Don’t ever forget that saying “no” to some things means saying “yes” to others.

I constantly forget this. I feel guilty when I say “no” and feel like I’m giving up valuable opportunities. I’ve essentially conditioned myself to have this extremely negative idea behind the “no” idea.

But, what it means is that I’m saying “yes” to other things, especially the things I’ve already committed to do with excellence and that saying “no” helps provide those guardrails and boundaries to make sure the “neat-yet-unnecessary” things don’t distract me from my best.

One of the biggest “yes” examples is my family. Every time I say “no” I have to remember that I’m saying “yes” to family: My unbelievable wife and beautiful daughter.

Duh!

My Two (or Three?)

So this is where I’ve landed: Instead of doing a lot of things ok I’ve decided to do a few things with excellence. Again, I’m following the model of my senior leader and his team: Andy, practically, does only a few things. He speaks, writes (occasionally), and leads.

What I’ve done is ask myself the hard questions about what I want to be excellent at, what I’m the most passionate about, what I’m the most curious about, and focus on those for this season and time in my life.

Here they are:

  1. Building Products.
  2. Writing.
  3. (Leadership).

I’ve decided to focus nearly all of my energies (professionally) into building excellent products for the organizations that I’m a part of. The first being North Point Ministries, my full time employer.

The second obvious (but not obvious) focus is writing. It’s of no surprise to anyone that I write (or rather “blog”) a lot but I have really never considered myself a “writer” (whatever that means) seriously until recent.

In fact, the idea has opened up an entirely new world and I have no idea where it’ll take me. But, I love writing, I’m curiously-interested it in constantly, I’m half-way decent, and I want to get better at it. As a result, I’ve decided that it’s going to be one of my core competencies.

Lastly, I’ve put Leadership in this bucket but only half-way (if I can do that). I’m not a natural born leader nor do I have the charisma or natural bend toward leadership.

I’ve found myself in that role because I’ve either been the most experienced person in the room or have been the most opinionated on a particular subject. Neither of these necessarily make a great leader (but are good ingredients at times) and so I’d love to learn more about what great leadership is all about.

I’m not going to be as active in my pursuit of this particular area since it’s not a core competency that I have but one I’d like to cultivate. Again, I have no idea what this looks like but that doesn’t bother me in the least.

Family

Choosing the Cheat by Andy Stanley is one of the best books I’ve ever read. In fact, it’s created a firm foundation for me to stand on and I’ve literally begun modeling my life around some of the principles outlined in the short but awesome read.

I’m also walking through this book with my team at 8BIT as well. I want to create a culture that encourages this type of outlook and perspective; I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

But one of the key points throughout the book is on family. I haven’t been the best husband or father but I aim to change that. I’d rather cheat on my work and my professional life than cheat on my family.

You see, the harsh but true fact is that 10,000 people could do your job. Really. God could easily raise up another leader, another designer, another developer, another entrepreneur to take my place any day of the week. But there’s only one person in the history of the universe that was created to be a husband to my wife and a father to my daughter.

Yikes.

I just can’t cheat on them any more. I’m giving up tons of make sure they feel loved and poured into. I’ve only got on shot at this.

Everything Else

That leaves out a lot. The list above is really just 2 things professionally. Everything else is just not in my playing field at this time.

And that’s tough but it needs to be done. Here are a few things that will take a significant backseat this year:

  • Consulting and Contracting Work
  • Conferences
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Video Games and other Entertainment
  • Random Ad-Hoc Meetups
  • An “Always On” Mentality
  • Tons of Social Media
  • Phone Calls, Text Messages
  • Crazy New Business Ideas
  • And more…

Of course the things that I’ve committed to are going to be finished but the new opportunities will be considered with considerable caution and my initial knee-jerk reaction will be the following:

Thanks for the opportunity, sounds amazing, but I’m going to have to respectfully decline this offer.

In other words I’m just going to have to flex and practice the art of saying “no.”

Staying Flexible and Open

Of course all of this is as fluid and dynamic as life is. Things change, the Spirit moves, and new doors are opened while many are shut.

I’m very aware that the things that I have planned can just as easily be frustrated by God and His greater plans for my life as Him blessing them and saying “Continue forth my son!”

(Maybe He wouldn’t say it that way, but you get the idea.)

Re-evaluating my foci with my spouse and people I trust will be a continual process; I plan on failing just as royally as I hope to succeed and that’s the beauty of my so-called “plan.”

I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t “work” nor will I be tirelessly enthused by what appears to be success. I’ll be at peace with where I’m headed and joyful at the opportunities and experiences that are afforded to me.

Bunch ‘O’ Thanks

Finally, thanks North Point Ministries, Andy Stanley, and the tons of leaders and friends that God has put in my life to help me navigate the chaotic and clouded waters of a career, family, and everything in between.

It’s March 11th, 2010. All I’m “worried” about is March 11th, 2010. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

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