Listen Deeply – Focus

As a leader it is important to celebrate the collectiveness of each success. Such generous appreciation keeps us energized for the next challenge together.

The more mature you become in your leadership the easier it is to return to a core focus−your purpose−and not lose footing on the slickness of success. Richard Rohr, among others, teaches that we learn much more from our failures than our successes.

He can’t lead after he succeeds. −Bob Dole

I was intrigued by Mr. Dole’s comment. It is not important to identify to whom the words were directed, but to hone in on possible truth.

~ Do you know how to lead after you succeed?

~ And, what does it mean to lead after success?

To me it means to not lose focus: focus on a purpose greater than any single success. For the immature leader it is easy to see “a” success as a well-deserved, personal accolade. Pinning such a badge on one’s lapel causes great damage and limits the energy the leader will need very shortly for the next challenge−and they come along one-after-another in this 21st Century.

In leadership, maturity is less about age and more about practice; consistently seeking knowledge and putting into perpetual practice-learning for impact. True success comes from your purpose-filled focus. In such trueness we find congruency between purpose and outcomes: seeing each success for what it really is and honoring each effort in the specific manner required to position us for the next thing.

The joys of success are not in a moral, but in the journey of the story itself.

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A Flow to Simplicity through Focus

The path of genuine sharing is along the trail of focus.

What others need most from us comes from the best of who we are; our trueness.

In my flow to simplicity I very often get in my own way−wrapped around the axle as it is said. This occurs as I fight through my work to free others from debilitating judgment while questioning myself more than is necessary or productive.

My coach guided me through an enlightening perception exercise. Her closing summary was, “You live a true life. Relax into the fact that this is so.”

The exercise included asking a select few who have known me for a significant time the following:

  1. What 3 words define me best?
  2. What are 2 things I could do better starting tomorrow?

In the gift of this feedback−the sharing of these important few−I was lovingly and specifically encouraged to hear and hold a few things.

  • It is important to hear the questions without the immediate urge to answer.
  • I am being encouraged to more boldly hold the “trueness” in the long-term value of this work I’ve created.
  • As I push hard for what I need in this work I must float into the effort of each push−Let Go.
  • It is critical at this juncture that I hear what those I serve feel over time because of my impact.

I was taken to a deep part of the flow as I absorbed−with Coach Judy’s help−the feedback. I was taken into custody with the energy cycle of my focus: Gather to Give to Grow.

A sharing methodology around which I’ve built my life.

It is now time to trust it as never before.

Step into the Middle with Focus

Susan is all about supporting others when and where they need it. She holds a vision of true balance for others; a harmony of focus between the internal and the external.

From her commitment to true balance, Susan is intently focused on encouraging personal engagement:

I take interest in the work of others to encourage the interest that gives energy for the work and supports the confidence of the individual in the work.

Susan shows us what it looks like to step into the middle with focus. Her process is about deep, clear listening−required for a safe wade to the middle of the leadership stream. Susan is determined and focused by nature; her strengths of Active Clarity, Confidence, and Collaboration drive her forward with a silent, creative tension.

She has advanced into the middle of 21st Century impact with conscious focus−a confident, clear grasp on who she is and what is most important to her. Purpose drives how she supports; and in her brand of support she has become a purposeful teacher.

In the process of the support of others, Susan is learning to listen internally to hear better externally. She has consequently become more conscious of her own process of support. It is this process that has emerged and defined Susan’s very impact. This unique impact has long been present, she is now simply conscious of both presence and process.

Like Susan, do not make assumptions about the unknown. Instead, seek out information important to collective, focused direction.

Letting Go into Focus

If you have ever had to focus intently on something (and you have), you achieved focus only because you simultaneously let go of other things. Think about driving. Many accidents are caused by a lack of focus on the practice of driving. Things like texting, eating, putting on makeup, and reading are examples of what must be let go in order to focus on driving respectfully, responsibly, and safely.

In light of a larger story, focus is defined as choosing direction−with its corresponding activities and strategies−supportive of your purpose and commitment to life with meaning. −Wading the Stream of Awareness (Focus Chapter)

I had been working with Vicki for a few months. In one of our sessions I began by telling her how much fun it was to work with her. She doesn’t just call and wait for the coach to tell her what’s next. She seems to always have a story to tell about something she is applying.

Vicki is mastering the art and power of focus. As she has become more presently conscious of the values and strengths already flowing in who she is as a leader, she is creating opportunity to practice. And from this practice she lives out the coolest stories.

As a 21st Century leader … you have learned to leverage the power of commitment, to lead selflessly as you strengthen self for external impact, and to harness the power of focus as you direct voice and purpose. (Focus Chapter)

Vicki has always had purpose. As she said in that session, she has simply become more conscious of such power. Yes, our purpose is power. No matter the work you put your hand to doing, it can be done with purpose−and the impact of your work is amplified through the clear focus of purpose.

See sister post, Release Focus into Skill 6

Encouragement for Your Focus (Loving Application)

Only when hope flows into committed action do we have the power for loving application.

In this time of personal transformation, a few close friends have joined me in the navigation. In collective support we are individually moving to new levels. Dan is one such friend. He is an example of this loving application. Dan expects the best of me and I of him. He does not try to fix things for me or to fix me. He leaves all definition to the flow. Yes, he expects me to find committed action−what is right for me−and he challenges me with complete respect.

It is our individual authenticity in this collective relationship that allows us to coach each other and let go. What we hold onto is not some predetermined specific tied to one issue or another, but to the relationship that is so needed and necessary on the journey.

It is the flow over rocks (obstacles) that makes the water clear. Our commitment places us into the flow with all its moving moments of paradox. This is the living action to which we are called. There is no credible action standing on the sideline. Only in the flow may we experience loving application.

The flow of loving application is present focus; and you must:
1) Expect good−do not over-define it.
2) Respect all relationship that blesses committed action.
3) Be authentic, and let go.

See companion post, The Capacity of Hope

The Building of Confidence – Keith’s Story

Each of us wants to find our way, to have purpose. This is something I believe to be so. Having a lot of questions does not mean we are necessarily lost from this path. Each path is unique. I love what David Whyte says in The Heart Aroused:

In effect, if we can see the path ahead laid out for us, there is a good chance it is not our path; it is probably someone else’s we have substituted for our own. Our own path must be deciphered every step of the way.

Keith is determined, focused, and patient in unfolding his path. His voice of trust is finding resonance in his daily scenes. For Keith, the depth of relationship is based on trust. He is one who begins with trust; trusting first in order to learn about each individual. The driving force behind Keith’s career plans is his desire to assist others with finding their focus; confidence in their own unique purpose.

Keith has had a major realization along his own path; that trust begins inside oneself. In order to trust himself to keep commitments made to himself, he discovered how important ‘no’ can be to focus.

The Power of No
Keith said to me, “I’m learning that it takes confidence to say no.” He is learning to trust his instinct. This self-trust is giving him the confidence to say no, thus further building confidence in the thin-slicing of intuitive instinct. For Keith, this is about further narrowing his focus on what is really important. As he clearly stated, “It is about reducing the distractions from one’s peripheral view.”

The distractions along the way do not mean Keith has made bad choices. What is now a distraction was once an opportunity to learn; to learn more about self and to open more to his path of purpose.

Saying Yes
Keith realizes the blessing of the distractions he has suffered; this is teaching him more about the power of presence and focus. He is further proving that prioritization does not yield focus. It is focus that yields prioritization.

As Keith summarized, “The confidence that my opinion is of value is in saying no to some good things to say yes to the things I love the most.” Voice gives power to the ‘no’ that is so often required to keep us on the path of our purpose.

Keith Glover is leading others to the leadership freedom built on the credibility of who they were made to be.
Keith’s blog: Pastor2Pastors

The Building of Confidence – Tammy’s Story

One third of the way into my career, the garbage collector (one of whom I wanted to be at five years old; because my mother took them popsicles) became a waste management professional, the janitor became a maintenance engineer, and the personnel department became human resources.

If dignity and respect are increased for the individual in such shifts, I am all for it. In most cases like these, the work performed did not change much with the change of title. In most cases this is fine. In the case of human resources, not so much. There is still work associated with policy, procedure, and law. However, with this shift, it was intended to rebrand toward a balance to include the resources of our humanness. In the latter two-thirds of my career, I have seen too many human resource professionals behaving like 20th Century personnel employees. Then there are unique exceptions; like Tammy.

Tammy is a process visionary; balancing purpose with the desire of others. She leads each person to engage in a manner that brings value to the whole while consistently validating the individual. Guided by purpose, she becomes focused in leading others to understand the challenge, interactively learn, and create purposeful, present action.

In addition to being a focused professional of resourcing humanness, Tammy is a wife, mother, and teacher. She is always teaching, even beyond her adjunct position at a private college. When Tammy and I were working on her personal purpose/brand, we pulled in a peer and an employee to assist. Tammy found it hard to focus on herself so intensely for this exercise. Marcie told me that Tammy kept them all connected to reality. Melanie said that Tammy created the magic of alignment. What an honor and a privilege to be connected to others in such a powerful manner.

Does Tammy know how blessed she is? Probably so. Does she know the beautiful impact she has on others? Probably not. The thing she does know however is precisely (she is precise) how to focus on what is important. I was taken to a deep place in myself when she said, “I focus on the big things at work and the small things at home.”

It was no surprise that her personal purpose/brand became; “I Teach Others to be Presently Strategic” … the big things at work. But what grabbed my heart was when she painted the picture of the small things at home. She said, “If I’m washing dishes and my daughter is talking to me, I stop what I’m doing and look at her.”

If you are a VP/Director of Human Resources, find yourself a Tammy!

Tammy O’Hare is a focused leader of human potential.