Last week, I posed a question to you: what’s the one thing you can focus on for the rest of your life such that all other things – on your list of possible achievements – would become easier or even unnecessary?
I got quite a number of responses – even private ones – that indicated that it was a timely question, especially at such a time when everyone’s grappling with how to best sustain their new year’s resolutions and not fall off the bandwagon like they say 98% of people do within a matter of weeks.
Well, I have a suggestion for you.
Before I tell you though, I’d like to tell you a story first. I recently read it in Keller Papasan’s “The One Thing” and I think it’ll drive my point straight home!
One evening, a young boy hopped up on his father’s lap and whispered, “Dad, we don’t spend enough time together.”
The father, who dearly loved his son, knew in his heart this was true and replied, “You’re right and I’m so sorry. But I promise I’ll make it up to you. Since tomorrow is Saturday, why don’t we spend the entire day together? Just you and me!” It was a plan and the boy went to bed that night with a smile on his face, envisioning the day, excited about the adventurous possibilities with his Pops.
The next morning the father rose earlier than usual. He wanted to make sure he could still enjoy his ritual cup of coffee with the morning paper before his son awoke, wound up and ready to go. Lost in thought reading the business section, he was caught by surprise when suddenly his son pulled the newspaper down and enthusiastically shouted, “Dad, I’m up. Let’s play!”
The father, although thrilled to see his son and eager to start the day together, found himself guiltily craving just a little more time to finish his morning routine. Quickly racking his brain, he hit upon a promising idea. He grabbed his son, gave him a huge hug, and announced that their first game would be to put a puzzle together, and when that was done, “we’ll head outside to play for the rest of the day”.
Earlier in his reading, he had seen a full-page ad with a picture of the world. He quickly found it, tore it into little pieces, and spread them out on the table. He found some tape for his son and said, “I want to see how fast you can put this puzzle together.” The boy enthusiastically dove right in, while his father, confident that he had now bought some extra time, buried himself back in his paper.
Within minutes, the boy once again yanked down his father’s newspaper and proudly announced, “Dad, I’m done!” The father was astonished. For what lay in front of him – whole, intact, and complete – was the picture of the world, back together as it was in the ad and not one piece out of place. In a voice mixed with parental pride and wonder, the father asked, “How on earth did you do that so fast?”
The young boy beamed. “It was easy, Dad! I couldn’t do it at first and I started to give up, it was so hard. But then I dropped a piece on the floor, and because it’s a glass-top table, when I looked up I saw that there was a picture of a man on the other side. That gave me an idea!
When I put the man together, the world just fell into place.”
That last line is the point of the whole story as far as this article is concerned. Put yourself together and your world will fall into place.
And how do you put yourself together? Personal Development. Becoming a better version of yourself. Suppressing your natural tendencies and base-self to reach for your ‘unnatural’ aspirations and higher-self. Doing the most emotionally difficult things in most situations. Choosing to take the high road rather than to wallow in the quagmire of pettiness.
It takes real and conscious effort. It is intentional. It is laser-focused. Focused on you, that is. So, instead of focusing on finding better friends with enviable “squad goals” and cutting off those other friends that you seem to cut off every year; you focus on becoming a better friend, a better person, and such people will be attracted to you.
Instead of focusing on your spouse’s faults and all the things they could have done but didn’t do, you focus on overcoming your own shortcomings and your spouse would see this and follow suit.
Instead of jumping from one company to another in search of the perfect job and perfect colleagues, you focus on building the right people-skills, and developing your God-given talents into rare skills that people would pay heavily for.
Instead of moving from church to church, looking for the perfect place of worship, you focus on developing a deeper understanding and relationship with God and then you could actually influence how things are done at your place of worship because of the depth of wisdom, knowledge and understanding you possess, which comes from building a deeper relationship with God, and attracts ‘followers’ to you.
Personal development is hard. It involves getting real with yourself – one of the hardest tasks for mankind – but the outcome is always extremely rewarding. As extreme as putting your world perfectly in place – causing all the lines to fall unto you in very pleasant places.
That’s what we seek to do here – in this column. We come here every week, looking to become better versions of ourselves. We read the articles, discuss in the comments, and go back and apply our takeaways to our daily lives. We’re not just hearers, we are doers also.
This year won’t be any different. So, I invite you to join me every week as we focus on doing our ONE THING – personal development – so that all the other things in our lives will become very easy to achieve or, better still, unnecessary!