There is possibly no other aspect more important during the process and act of serving a volleyball. Focus is trained on the height given to the ball, timing for the hit, correct contact, even proper breathing. All these pieces require focus and a balance of focus. An ability to cancel out all other pressures or even more powerful, leveraging such pressures to enhance performance.
In our daily work as educators, parents, co-workers, and community members, we face pressures aplenty. I’ve tried to not keep track of the number of e-mails I receive in a given day. If I could I’d destroy my cell phone and go without (maybe use a carrier pigeon service…I’m not kidding, but my wife thought feed/housing costs would be more than a cell phone bill…I digress).
Intense, extended focus is a rare gift in this period of our world. It is why I take a personal backpacking retreat each year, not to escape the pressures, but to prepare for the pressures. Slowly training my brain to resist the temptations of consuming my mind on things that do not truly matter. Backpacking is my focus workout. Focusing for hours on my every step, breath, and thought. It is better to focus on those things than the pain in my knee or back. The exhaustion I may feel is washed away as I discipline my mind to focus on the connections I am drawing from my past experiences.
Seth Godin has an excellent quote on the summation of Focus: “Overwhelmed is temporary.” By focusing on the important, addressing timely the urgent; we can overcome the overwhelming pressures that seem to mount in our daily lives. Focus can help us weather many passing storms.
The final analogy of focus I’ll draw upon is found in Habit 2 – Keeping the End in Mind from Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, where he describes how our life is much like climbing a ladder. What happens, he asks, if we have our ladder up against the wrong wall? What if we suddenly realize we have been climbing in the wrong direction? How do we prevent that from happening? Knowing our direction, knowing our purpose are inextricably tied to Focus. When we know these essential pieces then our focus will feel meaningful and above all progressive for our personal lives and in the lives of others. Stephen Covey goes on to explain the importance of creating a personal mission statement that will help focus our lives and keep our hopes, dreams, and actions in alignment to our purpose. I took his challenge almost a year ago, here is mine entitled Kindred Kettle Spirit ~ Life’s Manifesto.
Focus has a particularly personal meaning for me, as it was my chosen 2018 Word of the Year. I knew this area of my life required much deeper disciplining, thus far I’ve slowly seen the fruits of my focus. Whether that is being able to give attention to the truly important and manage better the urgent. Previously, I would be swallowed by the urgent and be spit out too exhausted to invest towards the parts of my life that create meaning and ground who I am.
Focus. Breath. Serve.