Why Should I? The Importance of Intentional Focus (Post #3)

High Wire Nik Wallenda

PHOTO CREDIT: http://abcnews.go.com

Exactly one year ago (June 23, 2013) a professional high wire artist named Nik Wallenda walked across the Grand Canyon on a two inch thick steel cable. America watched his nearly 23 minute crossing live via the Discovery Channel. He was 1500 feet above the ground with no safety harness and no net. Far below him was a Ranger, a paramedic, and two members of a film crew. (one can’t help but wonder why on earth they had a paramedic… )

How did Nik keep his balance during this treacherous walk? Here it is in his own words, “It took every bit of me to stay focused the entire time.”  He purposefully and intentionally gathered his strength and resources to remain focused. Purposefully and intentionally.

What is the big deal about Intentional Focus? Nik Wallenda’s story gives us some great insights.

Don’t look down!

Wallenda told interviewers that his secret to great focus is that he doesn’t look down and he keeps his eyes on his destination.

What is our destination? Where is our focus? Are we looking down at our obstacles and distractions, or are we looking forward toward our goal?

Watch out for simple distractions

Unexpected wind and distractions are perilous, to put it lightly, for high wire artists. Nik Wallenda has trained his whole life for these events. When he was a child walking a cable that was two feet off the ground in his backyard, his parents, also renowned high wire performers, would shoot him with BB gun pellets. He also trains regularly with air machines that blast up to 55 mph winds at him as he practices.

Yet, with all this training, the item that distracted him on a previous high wire act and nearly caused him to lose his balance was a piece of tape that didn’t belong on the wire. That hardly seems fair.

What unexpected distractions are keeping us from our goals? We might be on the lookout for the “big winds” but can get completely sidelined by things that appear innocent. What is my “piece of tape” that traps my eyes and distracts me from my focus? What’s yours?

Remember our source of inspiration

Nik recalls a moment when he lost his balance on his famous walk across the Grand Canyon. “I knelt down and I thought of my great-grandfather and that everything I do is to honor him,” Wallenda said. “It took my mind off all this movement underneath me … and I was able to focus on him and regain composure.”

What motivated us to choose our destination to begin with? Who or what inspired us? If we take the time to connect with our “source of inspiration” we will find strength to refocus when the wind pushes against us.

Connect with real PEACE

Besides being a highly trained (get it? highly trained?…nevermind) professional high wire artist and daredevil, Wallenda is also a committed Christian. As he walked across the Grand Canyon, he repeatedly (for 23 minutes) praised Jesus and vocalized his trust in God while all America watched and listened. “That’s really where I get my peace,” he said. “I have confidence that if something were to happen to me, I know where I’m going.”

QUESTION: Which aspect of Intentional Focus grabs your attention today? Please comment below.

To learn more about me and the coaching I provide to individuals and teams, I invite you to come poke around my website, kick off your shoes, and stay a while. www.coachamydevries.com.


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The Leadership Dance (Post #2)

brainHey, guess what? The whole “Left Brained vs. Right Brained” idea has been disproven by neuroscience. I know, it’s shocking that science has debunked a popular social media quiz. It IS true that some people are more analytical and some people are more artistic (just look at the people you work with), but the sides of the brain used apparently have little to do with it.

A recent study shows that while specific functions do reside in certain regions of the brain, it takes the whole brain working together to complete the action. In other words, the analytical and creative parts of the brain work together equally to solve an algebraic equation or to paint a pastel landscape. So much for there being “Left Brained” or “Right Brained” people.

I can’t help but wonder what the implications of this are for leadership. It seems that much of the literature on leadership development is listed in what we might have formerly called “Left Brained Lingo” — 10 steps, 7 habits, 21 laws, and so forth. While it is indeed helpful to know the steps, we need the whole brain to succeed in leadership.

What does a “whole brained” approach to leadership look like? I think it looks like a dance. Looking at leadership as a dance takes the logical, chronological steps and blends them with creative and timely movement. True leadership rarely shows up through strict execution of steps and formulas. True leadership is revealed in those awkward moments when a rigid process just doesn’t take in to account the mess and beauty of the people and circumstances we encounter.

A talented artist and friend of mine recently wrote to me, “Anyone can learn 5 steps to whatever, but it takes a leader to make it a beautiful dance!” (Kathleen Self, www.colorbrush.com)

Upon reading this I asked the following question on my personal Facebook page, “What turns a bunch of footsteps into a beautiful dance?” Some of the responses were: The heart behind the footsteps, feeling the music, the tune, rhythm, design, intent, creativity, and imagination. This adds some interesting thoughts to the idea that leadership is a dance.

I confess that since I grew up in a conservative Christian home almost all of my knowledge about dancing has come from watching “Dancing with the Stars”, one year serving as a high school cheerleader, and from watching my preschool daughters’ ballet class. Although my dancing credentials are not as impressive as, say, Julianne Hough, I have come to realize that learning the steps is only a part of the performance. Interpretation, timing, posture, attitude, and even humility as you let another dancer have the solo and attention, all turn a bunch of steps into a beautiful dance.

QUESTION: How else is leadership a dance? Please comment below.

If you’d like to learn more about me and coaching for leaders and teams then I invite you to visit my website, kick off your shoes, and stay a while. I’d serve you cookies if I could, but you’ll just have to use your awesome imagination…  www.coachamydevries.com

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Clear Vision for Christian Leaders (Post #1)

clear visionHello Friends!

Have you ever made an exciting discovery that you couldn’t wait to share? What if you found something that brought clarity to how you viewed yourself and how you fit into the world?

This is what happened to me when I started my journey with Life and Leadership Coaching about four years ago. Now don’t worry, I don’t pretend to have all the answers to your problems in “Five Easy Steps.” Instead, I have some “new-to-me” ways of looking at life and ministry that I am excited to share with you in this blog.

I’m looking for readers who desire to make a difference for God with their short lives. Hopefully leaders of all shapes and sizes (pastors, business leaders, educators, stay-at-home dads and moms, etc) who read my posts will discover a new level of clarity and hope.

We’ll talk about making healthy transitions, how to partner with someone you can’t stand (no I don’t mean marriage, although, if the shoes fits…), and a whole bunch of other relevant topics that will (hopefully) make us the best leaders possible in our spheres of influence. I suspect that some of my startling discoveries are not all that new to you which is why I am looking forward to hearing your comments as we sharpen our vision and ministry effectiveness together.

Over the past four years, I have gained clarity and purpose. This “clarity and purpose” caused me to make some difficult decisions (including a job change) and to start trusting God like never before (yep, finances). I wouldn’t trade these years of learning for anything.

One thing coaching taught me is that many of us learn best in community. So, what do you say? Would you like to participate in my periodic musings about life purpose and impact? Life is too short to meander about in uncertainty. Let’s sharpen our focus and live our lives with an eternal impact!

To learn more about me and coaching, I invite you to come poke around my website. www.coachamydevries.com.

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