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Singularity of Focus

The average person puts only 25% of their energy and ability into their work. The world takes its hat off to those who put in more than 50% of their capacity, and stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%.

Carnegie, Andrew, PD, 1913

—Andrew Carnegie (1913, by Theodore Marceau; Public domain)

…Upon first read, it may seem as though this Carnegie quote is at odds with how we are taught to live. After all, isn’t it important to have a “balanced” life, compartmentalizing our time between work, family, play, and (most importantly) worship? Absolutely, but that doesn’t take anything away from the singularity of focus leaders have toward their craft.

Two of my favorite examples are Walt Disney and Steve Jobs. Both of these souls dedicated themselves to their passion right up to the end. Walt Disney designed a plan for a new theme park in his mind, using the tiles on his hospital room ceiling as a sort of graph paper. Steve Jobs continued to lead his design teams at Apple right up until he could no longer physically travel.

Let’s talk about spirituality, the bedrock of our existence (whether we accept it or not). Carnegie, Disney, and Jobs could be ruthless leaders at times. In fact, there are certain characteristics of all three men we should pray to avoid. Jobs, in fact, shunned religion for virtually all of his life. But that doesn’t change the fact that all three accomplished great things by having an incredible level of focus on their calling. The role of a Higher Power working through us cannot be diminished simply because we do not accept that fact. Or, as C.S. Lewis so eloquently put it, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”

So, let’s use the examples of Carnegie, Disney, and Jobs to give ourselves to the one passion that drives us, but with the understanding that we are simply tapping into God’s great power from within to accomplish great things. With that in mind, we can add an incredible component to our journey: Divine Happiness.

—MSH, Penn Wealth

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Find Your Passion

From a little spark may burst a flame.

Dante _2

—Dante (Public domain)

…You would be amazed at the percentage of people who live their lives in an almost subconscious state; going through the motions in a rote, passionless manner. They see their impact on the world around them as granular, nearly undetectable. They do what they must to survive, but their happiness is limited and the great dreams they once had are almost extinguished.

Dear God, that sounds depressing. But it is the simple reality for millions upon millions of Americans. We don’t realize the scope of the problem because most suffer quietly, not wishing to burden the people around them with what they see as their own failings. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Regardless of age, circumstances, or the depth of the pit in which we have placed ourselves, God has given us the ability to change our current state. In fact, God expects us to change our situation.

The first step is to realize that we are not alone in our suffering—not by a long shot. The second step is to dust off those old dreams and find the one that can still create a spark in our lives. Or go in another direction altogether and uncover a new passion. Now, we must throw ourselves into this new world, working to surround our little spark with as much combustible material as possible. It may take some time, but if we refuse to give up, from our little spark will burst a flame.

—MSH, Penn Wealth

Humor Friday

We are not retreating – we are advancing in another direction.

MacArthur, Douglas, 2 Aug 45, Manilla, PD

—Douglas MacArthur (Public domain)

Take the Helm

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.

Syrus, Publilius_PD

—Publilius Syrus (Public domain)

…When the sea on which we are traveling is calm, it is easy to talk tough and appear strong. It is when the inevitable storm hits, however, that we are able to measure not only others, but (more importantly) ourselves as well.

Leadership is developed, not innate. While some may show a greater propensity to lead, anyone can become a strong leader by developing the necessary skills. And there are two factors to developing these skills: experience and ability. Experience is gained by consistently putting ourselves in challenging situations. Ability is developed by constantly and consciously learning from those situations.

Sometimes great challenges are thrust upon us; situations for which we may not be the least bit prepared. Let composure be your hallmark. Remain calm, write down the challenge you are facing, and lists the actions needed to take control of the situation. Then simply carry out your plan of attack.

With the understanding that everything we face is designed to move us forward spiritually, we are able to calmly and methodically take action. And when we take action, our thoughts will effortlessly move from negative states of mind like worry and despair to positive states like decisiveness and serenity. And that is the essence of leadership.

—MSH, Penn Wealth

Time is the wisest counselor of all.

Pericles_Pio-Clementino_Inv269_n2

—Pericles (495-429 BC; Greek statesman and Athenian general)

We Become What We Think

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

buddha

—Buddha (Public Domain)

The Human Connection

A man is never astonished that he doesn’t know what another does, but he is surprised at the gross ignorance of the other in not knowing what he does.

Halliburton, Richard, pd, see attrib

—Richard Halliburton (Public Domain)

…The importance of the human connection—our personal interaction with others—cannot be overstated, especially if we run a small business or are in any kind of sales positions (which most of us are, whether we realize it or not). And for those of us who struggle with creating that human bond with others, the divide between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us, via our actions or our tone, is often enormous.

When we deal with someone who seems aloof or standoffish, we typically react in kind. Yet, in the other person’s mind, they saw their perfectly friendly approach met with coldness; perhaps even disdain. Even benign emails can be misconstrued in the mind of the reader. “What did they mean by that?”

If you struggle with the human connection, don’t worry—you are far from alone. The first step (after admitting that you truly do want to improve your life in this area) is to become outer-directed every time you deal with others, whether one-on-one or in a group setting. Turn your focus 180 degrees, from you to them. Truly be interested in what they might be going through. More often than not, a perceived slight is, in reality, simply the result of the other person thinking about something going on in their own life. In other words, it has nothing to do with you.

Make a habit out of focusing on others. Make if fun, like a game. If you don’t know what they do, ask them. Try to put yourselves in their shoes and consider what a typical day might be like for them. Even if you were right, and they do have a problem with you, who cares?! The best revenge would be your own personal success, undaunted by the opinions of others. The less baggage we carry through life, the happier our life will be.

—MSH, Penn Wealth