Completing the Mission

Life consists of countless small missions and hopefully some Big, Hairy Audacious ones, too.  Whether big or small, there is one common denominator — the human factor.  People are susceptible to distractions that cause them to lose focus on the mission.  Sometimes the distractions are real, sometimes they are figments of the imagination.  But, the fact is, human beings are “focus challenged.”  I suspect there’s a little ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) in all of us.

What distracts you from completing your mission?  What can you do about it?  There are useful tips for enhancing focus, such as developing a personal mission statement.

“… develop a personal mission statement or philosophy or creed.  It focuses
on what you want to be (character) and to do (contributions and achievements)
and on the values or principles upon which being and doing are based.”

— Stephen Covey, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, p. 106

Great advice!  But, as valuable as a mission statement is, I’m sure Stephen Covey would agree that it is only the beginning.  The ability to get focused, stay focused, and restore focus when we lose it requires a comprehensive, on-going  program of preparation.  Such programs are often called “personal development” or “professional development” or “leadership development.”  The point is, if consistent and strategic physical conditioning prepares us for our physical challenges, doesn’t it make sense that intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development is at least as important?  I wonder how you are conditioning yourself to become stronger and more effective in dealing with the challenges of your mission.

Here’s my invitation to you.  Watch this cool video I discovered about staying focused on the mission.  It’s a humorous and powerful presentation that will have you ROFL.  When you’re back on your feet, think of ways you can develop yourself to deflect distractions and complete your mission.  Maybe its learning to prioritize, reading a personal growth book, or devoting time each week to reflect on your life’s purpose.  It probably means more, like engaging in a leadership development program or hiring a business coach.  Whatever you decide, strike while the iron is hot.  Get started right away and start enjoying the satisfaction of completing the mission.

How Am I Sabotaging My Future? (Part 10)

Take your eye off the ball” is bad advice in sports, but a great metaphor for the biggest barrier to success.  When a football player is seeing his endzone celebration before seeing the ball safely in his hands he is likely to see the ball on the ground.  “Hearing footsteps” refers to a situation where a player anticipates getting hit by the opponent, loses focus and makes an error.  We might say the player “takes his ears off the ball.”

A tactic in basketball is to do something like a head fake or a look-away pass to cause the opposition to focus on the wrong thing.  A player with the ball can cause a momentary distraction with a simple turn of the head.  In the diagram below, Ronnie (44) had the ball in the corner.  Before passing it to Zach (20), who was headed for the basket, he turned his head left toward the stands and fired the ball to Zach on his right, who caught the perfect pass and made the easy basket. Here’s the interesting part of this particular play.  Who or what was on Ronnie’s left to look at?  He’s in the corner, where there is no basket and no other players to pass to.  Still, the defender froze, lost focus for a fraction of a second, and allowed the ball to get by him.  Loss of focus, even briefly, can be a game changer.

Ronnie to Zach for 2 Points

These examples illustrate the importance of short-term focus.  Now, let’s consider focus from a long-term perspective.  Do you know where you are going?  What is your purpose for being here in this world?  How does your vision of your future align with your sense of purpose?  As purpose and vision take form, perhaps you can “see” an image of your preferred future.  If so, put it into written form or draw a picture.  This is much more than an academic exercise.  Taking time to visualize your purpose-driven future and create a visual representation of it helps you stay focused on what matters most.

“I dream my painting and paint my dream.” — Vincent Van Gogh

“The Three Armies can be deprived of their commanding officer,
but even a common man cannot be deprived of his purpose.”
— Confucius

With a vision, you can plan.  With a plan you can take action.  Action creates momentum, which gets results.  But, always remember to keep your eye on the ball or you might get the wrong results and that would sabotage your future.

“You cannot change your destination overnight,
but you can change your direction overnight.”
— Jim Rohn

Exercising the Smile Muscles

As time goes on I become  more convinced that many of the problems we face are the direct result of trying to compartmentalize the different parts of our lives, sometimes going as far as having different principles for each. Lately I’ve been trying to tear down these silos in my own life  and live with a commitment toward greater alignment between my values and my words, attitudes and actions.

While I’m convinced this is the right move, it is not without its hazards — focus for one has become a casualty.  So often I’ll find myself listening to a sermon at church and thinking, that’s a great theme for this week’s business presentation or thinking a “God-thought” during a business meeting.  This apparent lack of focus can be downright frustrating.  Then again, I’m convinced that it’s the way I should have been living all along, as one person with just one set of values and beliefs, who happens to wear many hats.  There is something very liberating about being my true self at all times.  Becoming more genuine means there isn’t as much to remember because I am no longer a slave to the opinions of others.  I’m smiling just thinking about this rediscovered freedom!

Another hazard will happen when people discover the new me (or is it the real me they didn’t know because of my silos?)  Will they be confused?  Will they be afraid?  Will they think I’ve changed?  Well yes, I am changing.  But, only in the sense that I’m changing back into just one person.  Good-bye schizophrenia!   Will they think I “got religion?”  (I’m smiling again.)

One way I feel the change is in my willingness to admit a goof-up.  I’m not talking about moral failings as much as those trivial flubs that make me look like a klutz or a dope.  It’s a lot easier to laugh about them.  If people want to think I’m a big dummy, let them!  (I just did 10 more reps with the smile muscles.)

Where in your life can you become more genuine?  You don’t have to surrender the private parts of your life with the whole world.  You do have to make sure they are in full alignment with your true values.  Then you too can be liberated.

Dream Baby, Dream!

The ABC’s of Professionalism

“Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” — Napoleon Hill

What a powerful thought. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it seems that the older people get, the less time and effort they devote to dreaming. Even when they do grant a little freedom to the right side of their brains, the images tend to be constrained by fears, doubts, and the “realities” that they’ve constructed for themselves. Vision is the victim.

“Capital isn’t scarce; vision is.” — Sam Walton

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” — Bible, Proverbs 29:18

Imagine an entire world that embraced the Napoleon Hill philosophy and was able to unleash the full capacity of human creativity and ingenuity. Not just the so-called “educated thinkers” with advanced college degrees. I mean everyone – kids included.

“One of the virtues of being very young is that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your imagination.” — Sam Levenson, humorist

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” — Albert Einstein

“Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future.” — Charles F. Kettering

Is that too idealistic for you? Okay. Instead of imagining the release of ALL untapped creativity, what if we could gain access to just 1% of it? How different would the world be if everyone made a habit of exercising his creative mind like some exercise their bodies? I envision happy, energized people who think up better solutions to old problems, invent new things, fuel the next economic boom, and make the world a better place. Ridiculous? Where’s your imagination?

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” — Muhammad Ali

Everyone has within himself untapped God-given creative potential. With desire and a little bit of practice, everyone has the ability to develop qualities of a visionary (not in the prophetic sense.)

“A visionary is one who can find his way by moonlight, and see the dawn before the rest of the world.” — Oscar Wilde

“What is now proved was once only imagined.” — William Blake

Vision is imagination with focus. When random images are assembled and brought into focus through lenses called intent and purpose and a filter called morality, visions are formed – some have world-changing potential. Without focus, the target is fuzzy making it difficult to aim at and even more difficult to share with others. However, too much focus and the wrong kind of filtering can squelch creativity. For example, applying the filter known as “probability” too early in the visioning process is like a governor placed on a high-performance engine. It limits the power of the vision.

“Dream big dreams! Imagine that you have no limitations and then decide what’s right before you decide what’s possible.” — Brian Tracy

“No one is less ready for tomorrow than the person who holds the most rigid beliefs about what tomorrow will contain.”

— The Visionary’s Handbook: Ten Paradoxes That Will Shape the Future of Your Business, 1999.

When the image is an outcome or target it is sometimes referred to as “the big picture” or “the 30,000 foot view.” Contrasting with that is the idiom “can’t see the forest for the trees.” Both are referring to the fact that that there is a difference between the overall outcome and the implementation details.

The next step is giving birth to your vision. Like a baby, which needs lots of love and attention, every vision needs a parent (biological or adoptive) to help it grow and mature. This is where care and feeding begin. The parent of the vision needs a plan of action.

“A baby is born with a need to be loved – and it never outgrows it.” — Frank A. Clark

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” — Japanese proverb

It’s Your Vision, Record It

Professionals keep a journal of their thoughts, events, ideas and yes, their visions. Describe the vision and all of its glorious details. If possible, draw or find a picture of it. It’s not silly to record the birth date of an idea or vision. If a beer company can make a big deal about the “born on date” of their product, you should do likewise. Certainly the birth of your idea is more significant than a bottle of beer. If you are unwilling to do these things, you probably don’t love your vision enough to help it survive, much less to help it grow and thrive.

“If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured and unique individual – keep a journal. Don’t trust your memory. When you listen to something valuable, write it down. When you come across something important, write it down.”
— Jim Rohn <;

It’s Your Vision, Share It

Dote on your vision like it’s your own precious child. Show it to others. Your enthusiasm will grow and you may find others willing to help support your vision. Be ready for some to say “you have an ugly baby.” Others will more thoughtfully offer encouragement or parenting advice. Use the good feedback to refine and bring clarity to your vision. Ignore the useless and bad feedback. However, both types of feedback can be sources of positive motivation.

“A baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.” — Eda J. Le Shan (1922-2002), Psychologist, family counselor, author.

“If you desire to drain to the dregs the fullest cup of scorn and hatred that a fellow human being can pour out for you, let a young mother hear you call dear baby “it.”
— Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927), Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, p. 58.

It’s Your Vision Realize It

The future of your vision is undeniably linked to the amount of passion you or someone else has for it. Passion is the fuel that turns vision into reality.

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” — John C. Maxwell, <>

“There is no finer investment for any community then putting milk into babies.” — Winston Churchill

There’s a corollary to this vision/passion connection. Regardless of whether or not a particular vision lives or dies is less important than for the individual to create a passion connection with any worthy vision. Having a passion-filled vision is crucial to achieving the highest levels of professionalism. It might sound cliché, but find what you love to do and figure out a way to make a living out of it. Instead of just making a living, you’ll be making a life.

“If you wake up in the morning and you can’t think of anything but singing first, then you’re supposed to be a singer, girl.” — A line by Sister Mary Clarence in Sister Act II.

“Once you surrender to your vision, success begins to chase you.” — Robin Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

“You do not pay the price of success, you enjoy the price of success.” — Zig Ziglar

Ownership of a vision is not limited to the ones who created it. In fact, people working together should adopt the organization’s vision if the organization is to thrive. Whether or not you are the originator of the vision, if you claim either a parental role or an adoptive parental role in the life of the vision, you are a leader. Keep this in mind while reading the following leadership quotes:

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” — John C. Maxwell

“Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.” — Robert Jarvik, Artificial Heart Developer.

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” — Theodor Hesburgh

“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.” — Ralph Lauren

“We lose sight of the most important factors that lead to successful leadership: commitment, a passion to make a difference, a vision for achieving positive change, and the courage to take action.”
— Larraine Matusak, Finding Your Voice: Learning to Lead Anywhere You Want to Make a Difference, p. 7.

“The size of a leader is determined by the depth of his convictions, the height of his ambitions, the breadth of his vision and the reach of his love.” — D.N. Jackson, Leadership Inspirational Quotes & Insights for Leaders, p. 155

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” — Warren Bennis

Now, go feed that baby!

God bless,

— CC

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© Copyright January 2009, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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