Posts Tagged ‘distraction’

Leadership And The Discipline of Focus

July 22, 2016

What defines a leader?

Not a manager or someone with a title? No, a leader.

We always start with vision. A leader has a vision of where to go. A vision of what the goal of the organization or committee is.

I knew a leader once. I’ve worked in a number of organizations and businesses. I’ve known few leaders.

It was a larger organization. Several hundred people–maybe reaching toward 1,000 for a while. A church, for what that’s worth.

He knew where he was going and where he wanted to take the organization.

He selected close advisors–mostly wisely.

He encouraged teams to develop–as long as they moved the vision forward.

He could change teams as situations changed requiring new responses–but still moving the vision forward.

Researching yesterday’s post, I remembered Nehemiah.

He had a vision. He convinced the residents of Jerusalem, who had become adjusted to living in a city without walls, that it was essential they build a wall.

He organized teams, recruited leaders, but always focused on his goal.

He accomplished the goal in a remarkably short time. If any one of you has ever been part of a construction project or watched one, you know that they are almost never done on time and under budget. Nehemiah did it.

He was focused on the task. “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.”

What great work are we doing right now? What are our potential distractions that could prevent us from doing that great work.

Focus. Recognize distractions and discard them. Keep the vision in mind always.

Distraction, Er, What Was I Just Doing?

July 19, 2016

Martha, Martha, You are distracted by many things.–Jesus

I help out with marketing for a “coffee cafe” that I’ve invested in. High Grounds Cafe is a “business as a mission” cafe featuring Direct Trade coffee. Our roaster buys directly from the farmer. This means the farmer earns an income sufficient for feeding his family, paying his workers fairly, and even, in some cases, funding church startups in his country.

Every morning I post to Facebook. Right now, that is one of the best ways to reach people with information about your local business.

Pam texts me about 6 am with a list of the brewed coffees of the day and any other specials for the day.

I open Facebook in my browser. Then I see my notifications. So, I have to click on the red button and go through them. Then I go to my home page. See a photo. Check it out. Scroll down a little. 15 minutest later, I click on the High Grounds administrator page. Compose my message, load a photo, and publish.

A 10-minute task consumes almost a half-hour of my morning.

Thank you distraction.

We have banned email from our internal communications. — Michael Sliwinsky, founder/CEO of Nozbe

I use a task manager (to-do list on steroids) called Nozbe. The CEO writes often about productivity. He noticed years ago that email is a distraction. He banned email as an internal communication application. People only use it to communicate with the outside world.

More and more companies are banning email. If you work in an organization, have you ever been caught in a group email “chain” where everyone is “replying all” to the message and you wind up mired in mindless (lack of) communication?


Writing this post, I was distracted by Facebook. Email. My soccer referee assigning application. Messages. Newspaper. That is all before 6:30 am. And I try to focus.

Is this a modern thing caused by so many devices?

Apparently not. Jesus addressed Martha who was getting frustrated. He calmed her. Told her to focus. To focus on what’s important first. Then focus on the next.

Focus negates distraction. Eliminate distraction. Close all apps except what you’re working on. Concentrate on that one thing–the one thing that is important in the moment.

Distractions Steal Your Awareness

May 28, 2015

They had important guests. A bunch of guys they knew had dropped by for a couple of days of relaxation and conversation. These were friends. But still, one had to show appropriate hospitality.

Two sisters and a brother lived in the house. One sister was busy doing the right thing. She was being hospitable. She asked the guests what they wanted to drink. She scurried around assembling a dinner for 13 guests.

Like most women in the situation, she was a bit frazzled. And a bit upset. No, more than a bit.

What was that worthless sister of hers doing sitting there talking with the guests leaving her with all the work? Doesn’t she know that men sit around and talk. Women prepare the meal. That’s the way it was then. That’s the way it had been for 1,000 years before.

So, she goes to the head guy and asks him to tell her sister to go help.

“Martha, Martha,” Jesus replied. You know you’re in trouble when he repeats your name. “You are distracted by many things. Your sister Mary has chosen the better way.”

Mary was focused on learning and growing and on the relationship they had with Jesus.

There Martha was, a chance to learn from the world’s greatest teacher. Right there in her living room. And she was distracted.

The guests would have been happy with whatever they could pull together to eat.

Distraction steals from your awareness. It therefore steals from the future. Awareness leads to focus. Focus leads to becoming. By focusing on the right things, a person can grow to be all that God created them to be.

What is today’s distraction? Or, even what is the distraction of the minute?

I sometimes need noise around in order to focus better. I can sit for two hours at a noisy coffee shop and focus better than in the quiet of my office. There are all those opportunities for distraction that I can tune out. In the quiet of my office, I can glance up at a familiar painting or at my bookcase, and my mind can go off on some tangent. I’m distracted.

Then I remember, don’t let distraction be a thief.

Distraction Leads To Defeat

March 23, 2015

The basketball game is near its end. The score is close. Lose and go home. Win and play in the next round. The sound of a whistle penetrates the noise of the crowd. A foul is called. As the shooter stands at the line preparing for his free throws, the opposing crowd screams and waves towels or whatever trying to distract the shooter. Focus reigns in this moment. The shot is made. It’s “March Madness” in the US. 

He is driving on the freeway talking with animation to his friends in the car. He turns to see those to whom he’s talking.

She is also driving on the freeway. Struggling to pull on her hose. Then applying makeup.

We call that distracted driving. Many times a day it ends in disaster.

Meanwhile, my mind wandered to many things while reading my daily office this morning. Many thoughts competed for brain cycles while the “me” part of the brain was saying, “Let’s concentrate on our breath and God.”

I began to wonder. How many places in the Bible are stories about distraction?

There is the story about Mary and Martha. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet soaking in every word he said. Martha was preparing a meal for their guests. She complained. Jesus said to her that she was distracted by many things but that Mary had chosen the best.

The story of the wedding feast in Matthew where the king invites his most important subjects to a wedding feast for his son. They are all distracted by their businesses and cares and don’t come. The king disowns them and invites many other people.

The ability to focus–especially in this age of information overload and electronic distractions–becomes the hallmark of the successful person.