So, for a while here today, I've felt even more short-sighted than usual.
And that's saying something.
For those of you, to whom this means anything at all, my short sightedness registers around -7.5 in each eye.
And here's the thing: Without my contact lenses (or glasses), life - and the world around me - is seriously out of focus.
The fact that I'm unable to see things clearly - even at fairly close range - has been almost comical on occasions.
But at times, it's been painful. At others, borderline dangerous.
If I don't put my glasses on first thing - firstly, I'm not likely to get very far. And secondly? Objects only come into focus right before a) I trip over them - or b) they smack me in the mouth.
And yes, you've guessed it. This post isn't just about remembering to leave your glasses right where you can reach them.
So here's the truth:
Being able to focus matters.
It's just not what matters most.
On a personal level, I'm part wannabe productivity nerd - and part spontaneous creative type. There's a part of me that loves a strategy map, a coherent set of lists of projects and tasks - and a plan. The other part of me, has more of a penchant for asking "What if?", rather than "What now?" - and for dreaming BIG, rather than implementing like a pro.
At times, this makes for an interesting ride.
Don't get me wrong here.
As a coach, I see the power that improved focus and productivity can give to someone who wants to make progress on things that matter.
But where productivity starts to become idolatrous?..
It's easy to end up focussing on doing things right, rather than doing right things.
To focus on what we think matters, rather than seeing what matters most.
Focussing on what we think and what we do; rather than on what we sense - and what we see.
What if it's all about the seeing?
In this season, where a number of new opportunities are starting to come my way, I'm needing to up my own game - and improve my ability to focus my attention, so I can be more productive.
Because I'm easily distracted (and because at times, I sense God asking me to be generous with my time) - I want to make every effort use of the time I *think* I have, well.
If you look for time management and productivity advice from the standard playbooks, you'll quickly pick up that a very high value is placed on the ability to manage distractions.
The ability to ruthlessly eliminate distractions is seen as essential, to developing the ability to pay focussed attention.
There's plenty of truth in this. Just nowhere near enough.
Because, here's the thing:
I don't want to become so good at eliminating 'distractions' - that I miss the very 'distractions' I'm being called to pay close attention to.
Don't get me wrong: I know getting things done matters. This isn't some kind of spiritual justification for being super-distractible. Or about finding any excuse to disappear 'off task', without good reason.
But, as it turns out, it is a call to keep our eyes and ears wide open, as we go about our life and work - so we don't miss the very things we're meant to focus on in the moment.
So, here's what I'm learning:
I mentioned that I'm pretty short sighted. Well, something smacked me right in the mouth just a little.
I've spend a chunk of time today, working hard (and increasingly in vain) on trying to manage and eliminate distractions, so I could focus on writing a blog post about focus.
And, No. The irony of this is not completely lost on me.
But, whilst I'm no linguist - something struck me for the first time, late into the day.
Attention, is about attending. And attending is about serving.
Attention is about service.
Focussed attention is most truly about discerning. About making out and seeing clearly, what and where - and who, you are meant to be serving.
Even when the thing, right in front of you, right here, right now, is not on any earthly strategy map, list or plan, anywhere.
This flies in the face of conventional productivity wisdom.
What if we were free to focus?
And as well as thinking about spending our time, we are willing to pay attention.
Even where there's a cost.
Are we ready to make some kind of sacrifice, if that's what is required?
This might mean learning to rely on getting things done in faith - in a new way.
It might also mean, that improved productivity skills can be of real - and great - service, to those who are willing to enter into divine distractions.
Attention is about service.
And where our focus needs to shift - and change?
Give us eyes to see.
© 2018 Sarah Phillips, Away Coaching
May be shared freely - please retain contact details: www.awaycoaching.com
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