Sustaining Your Focus

Vision. An ability to intensely focus your attention is a desirable quality particularly for people who lead organizations. For then, important and specific tasks are routinely accomplished and in short order. Bursts and blasts of productive energy address objectives that fit together and plug into a larger plan.

Other people are sure to be pleased, especially when their company or church or ministry or country seems to be moving towards an appealing destination and accomplishing worthwhile goals. Paying close attention to a compelling vision can have far-reaching consequences as the years go by. The results are usually positive in every way. Yes, everyone benefits.

But how do you sustain your focus day after day, month after month, and year after year? What do you do if you feel like your sense of passion is beginning to fade?

Fireworks can’t go on and on forever

This common experience, this loss of visionary mojo, can be an occupational hazard. For many organizations are drawn to intense and enthusiastic leaders. Being magnetic and excited may be partly why you have a job. Employers like it; shareholders do to. Most board members will be sure to cheer you on. By way of contrast, a stoic and staid approach to your responsibilities probably won’t go over nearly as well.

For better or worse, intense people stand out; they get noticed. An amateur video of some guy snoring on a couch will not be the one that goes viral.

Most people want to be around someone who is excited about where they are going and what they are doing. Dynamic and charismatic leaders who are able to cast a clear vision and then inspire others to make it happen will always be in demand.

There is, however, much more to life and leadership than waving the flag, rallying the troops, and leading the charge. Passion and emotion has its place. People with sanguine and choleric personalities also have a role to play. But an overly intense way of managing an organization, or for that matter dealing with daily life, is difficult to sustain for very long. True, some people seem to have an incredible amount of stamina and energy and drive. But even then, incredibly intense people eventually wear themselves out.

Years ago, I met a young man running down the side of a mountain while I was hiking up. Working at a ski hill in the summer, it was not common to meet very many people on the grassy slopes – let alone some crazy character running downhill at high speeds. Most people, of course, would usually ski in the winter where this man was running in the summer. And some of the trails were quite steep and even dangerous.

As I recall, his clothes were torn and he was bleeding as he stood their catching his breath. Said something about the thrill of it all, mentioned a broken bone or two from previous outings, and then he was off. I never heard if he made it all the way down in one piece.

Burning the candle at both ends soon makes for a very dark night. Even if your focus is on an activity that makes a lot more sense, a flash in the pan quickly fades. The fireworks can’t go on forever. Day after day, month after month, year after year, the incredible amount of energy that is exerted begins to take its toll.

So, once again, is it possible to sustain a clear sense of vision and focus and direction over a lifetime? It all depends on what you mean by that. Although it is probably not realistic to expect that you will always be on a positive emotional high. Feelings do not always flow freely. Occasionally, maybe even quite often, it will be necessary to educate your emotions.

How does that work? Take a few hours, or even a few moments, to meditate or reflect on that this world would be like if nobody ever did anything that you do. What would life be like, for example, if nobody ever took the time to write any helpful or encouraging words? That is what I am attempted to do at the moment. Would it really matter if nobody ever did?

Yes, I can see very clearly that it would. This exercise has already produced a response deep in my soul. And I have been encouraged to carry on and finally finish this post.

Be enthusiastic. Work and even run towards your goals. But don’t forget to pace yourself and renew your vision along the way.

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