September 15, 2014
A Monday Morning Question
I’ll be sharing some technical posts later this week so I decided I’d make my Monday morning post a bit different. I’d like to make an observation and leave you with a question. This is a rhetorical question – not something I need to know the answer to or even want to know the answer. This is your opportunity in the quiet of your own mind to evaluate where you are and how you would truthfully answer this question for yourself. Grab a cup of coffee and take a moment.
Here’s my question. It’s not hard and it’s not difficult to understand.
Where is your focus?
Now that seems a simple question. In fact, it’s only four words. I bet you instantly answered it. You came up with something about work, or family, or friends. Maybe you didn’t. Again, I’m not interested in hearing your answer. That’s for you. But I’d like to expand the question just a bit and then ask you again how you would answer.
We have a million things begging for our attention these days. We have more channels then ever to monitor and keep up with. In reality this means we have so many more opportunities for marketers to advertise their products and push their items in our streams, our feeds, our faces. Then beyond the companies begging for our money there are other things competing for our time. We must balance not only our priorities but our energies and our efforts. Family, friends, husband, wife, children, siblings, parents, bosses, co-workers…the list is seemingly endless. So many things needing our time and our attentions. I haven’t even begun to address open source, volunteer and other non-profit areas where our time can provide immense benefits. I know, you understand already. You get my point. I’ll not elaborate or draw things out any more. Bottom line – there’s many many things which would like more of our time and attention.
With so many things in need of our abilities we can very quickly begin to lose our focus. Not our focus on which project or relationship to spend time on, but something different. We can misplace our focus. I believe it comes down to one of two options. You can place your focus on others or on yourself.
We each have unique skills and abilities which make us special and give us our worth. Some of us have a grander stage, some have a more visible role. Regardless of the size of the audience we all have talents. We have power to make a difference and we have the tools to do more. But sometimes (sometimes) we lose our sight. We lose our focus and instead of placing others before ourselves we fall prey to the selfish me-first attitude. Because we have many different demands on our time or abilities we begin to think more highly of ourselves. It’s slow, it’s sneaky and it’s dangerous.
Rather than being consumed with how everything affects us, we should spend a bit more time focused on others and how a situation might affect them. Admittedly that’s hard to do. We all want to be recognized as important and valuable. We crave the sense of appreciation we get from others and how the feeling of importance makes us feel needed. We don’t fit every need and we’re not (or shouldn’t try to be) the center of every debate, discussion, or situation.
When we work together as a team, a community, a family we have the opportunity to accomplish great things. When we focus on the common good, the common cause, and the vision we have set forth and we each look to our neighbor as our focus we empower each other. This bond strengthens relationships. This bond empowers and fuels us to do more, to be more, to become more. When we focus on others we improve something greater than ourselves and we leave a legacy.
There’s my Monday morning question for you. It’s only four words but it holds a lot of meaning. Remember, it’s rhetorical. I answered it for myself and I’m not sharing my answer. I’d love it if you did the same. Consider the question. Consider yourself and decide where you are.
Where is your focus?
May 26, 2014
Taking Time Away From Keyboard
I love technology, and I love working on code. In fact, sometimes I realize I’ve been spending every waking moment in front of a screen of some kind. This past weekend was a welcome change of pace from that life. A weekend away from keyboard.
My family and my wife’s family has always had an affinity for camping. I remember soon after my wife and I were married and after spending several camping trips “roughing it” in a tent we decided it was time to upgrade to the “next level”. Which meant in our meager way, we moved from a tent camper to a popup.
This was a huge move for us. We weren’t sleeping on the ground any more but actually had beds and even a sink! We were most definitely living the high-life. Now looking back it’s been 7 years we’ve spent our camping time in this wonderful little camper. We’ve grown from a family of two to a family of 5. And through it all this camper has given us a chance to get away from it all. A chance to get away from keyboard and all the encumbering constraints of technology.
As busy as my life can get at times it’s critical to take some time and get away. De-stress and even (dare I say it) step away from the devices and electronics. I have found these trips away to be incredibly helpful in more ways than one. Not only do I get a chance to leave the electronics behind but I also can take a deep breath of fresh air and do something that is truly special. I get to spend quality time with my family.
Sometimes amidst all the conferences, airports, lecture halls, business meetings, and all-night coding sessions it can be easy to
forget neglect the importance of family and friends. Or pets. Or anything beyond the computer. Life is more than lines of code, more than business meetings, more than flights and hotels. Life is about relationships (I’ve blogged about that before – here and here). Sure a good bit of my travels and meetings are for building relationships and spending time with my “extended family”. But these camping trips are special.
So here’s a word of encouragement. Don’t neglect your closest relationships. Remember that computers, phones, tablets, and all other electronic devices are tools to accomplish a purpose, they don’t control you. Step away from them and spend some time in ‘real-life’. Enjoy the fresh air and nature and the opportunity to share your life with family and friends.
(My kids with their cousins)