Read This If You Need To Focus

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When I was a kid, I was lucky enough to have a dad who could teach me some core, basic life lessons.

I learned to quick-touch a soccer ball between my feet, dribble a basketball, and swing a bat.

But Chris, these are all sports moves, not life lessons.

You’re right, and this is what I thought for a long time, too.

I remember swinging the bat, looking to the imaginary outfield, waiting to feel the connection with the ball.

Whiff.

I would hit nothing but air.

Then another pitch would come and I would look again, into the imaginary bleachers of imaginary screaming fans, brace for a huge impact, and . . .

Whiff.

Nothing.

Then my dad would deliver the lesson.

“Keep your eye on the ball.”

What? Eye on the ball? How will that have anything to do with my success?

It didn’t matter. He was my dad and knew everything.

The next pitch was coming and I stared at the ball.

Nothing mattered but that small, white ball.

WHACK.

It was gone.

It happened so fast that I barely caught a glimpse of the ball hurling over the neighbor’s fence.

My dad smiled. That was an easy one.

Here’s the core, transferrable lesson that I didn’t realize I was learning:

When you’re shooting for the stars, it’s easy to get caught up in the glamour of the crowd or the magnificence of the feat. It’s easy to forget the difficult steps of what you will actually need to take to get there.

You can look at the bleachers when you step up to the plate, but when it’s time to swing, you had better keep your focus on the task at hand.

If you don’t, you’ll “whiff” every time.

And what’s worse? You’ll never learn to hit a slow, underhand pitch!

It’s that first step that will get you the muscle memory and focus needed to hit a fastball later in life.

2 Minute Action

Take 1 minute and think about your long term goal “the bleachers.” You can even write this goal down right now.

Then take the next minute and create your short term goal, “hitting the ball.”

Keep in mind here that the trick is to think long term and act short term.

Read This If You Think You Could Manage Your Time Better

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I had a great conversation with a friend of mine.

He owns a company in San Fransisco that presents public school data to leaders and administrators and shows them where they need to focus in order to improve outcomes for students.

It’s an amazing company that is helping lots of schools, but that’s not the point.

When we connect, we often talk about project management, productivity, and strategy.

I love chatting with him because I admire the way he runs his company and his life.

One morning, we were talking about time management and how beneficial it is for both of us to be early risers.

I forget what time it was, but it was early in the morning for a phone call–definitely before 8 AM for me and probably before 7 AM for him.

But then he said something that really reshaped the way I look at my calendar.

He said:

“I started noticing that I felt better in the morning. I did better work. I had more energy. So, I stopped focusing on time management and started focusing on energy management.”

Click.

By introspecting more closely at our times of high-energy and times of low-energy, we may learn more about how to shape our day or when to focus on important tasks.

If we take this another step further, to the career level, it might be helpful to ask yourself:

“What kind of work makes me feel the most alive?”

“What kind of work makes me feel the most dead inside?”

These are powerful indicators that may help you shape your career into the life of your dreams.

And that’s the dream, right? To be productive and happy at the same time?

No one wants to be lazy and miserable. No one wants to be overworked and miserable.

2 Minute Action:

So, today, for 2 minutes, I urge you to ask yourself these questions.

If not, don’t be surprised if you’re doing the same work and feeling the same way about your life and career a few years from now.

Moving from your current state to your future desired state will require energy and strain.

Read This If You Want Your Job To Make You Happy

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I have really bad news.

But first, I’m going to tell you a quick story.

When I was in college, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do after graduation. I pulled a few graduate students together, into a panel, and asked them questions.

One grad student said something that really resonated with me.

She said:

“there’s no job in the world that will make you happy, unless you’re already happy.”

– Helen G.

Whoa. That really stood out.

Let’s be clear, if you’re a coal miner and you get the black lung, I think we can agree that you have a crummy job and you’d be much happier somewhere else.

The point that this grad student was making was that I had only considered external factors in the creation of my happiness. I had never considered all of the internal factors, and those were even more powerful.

My point in telling you this story is to ask you a question about your work, your productivity, and your impact.

It’s not the job that makes us happy, it’s how we see ourselves in our jobs.

It’s not the career that makes us happy, it’s all of the experiences we have and relationships we build that make us feel happy.

2 Minute Action:

So, today, I’d like you to take 2 minutes out of your day and consider some of the things that truly make you happy. Look outside yourself, but also look inside yourself.

Go ahead, make a list. I love lists.

When you see the full scope of what makes you feel alive, you’ll be able to diversify your sources of happiness.

I know it’s scary, but it’s important.