How to Have Both Intense Focus and Flexibility by Mike Connaway


The better we get at anything, the more we build an unstoppable focus. Just like repetitive movements in sports free you up to get good at other parts of the sport, the more we develop muscle memory in a thing, the better we get at everything associated with it.

But there is a problem, a weakness, with focus. The more you focus on a thing, the more you create scotomas or blind spots to the left or right in your field of vision.

It’s incredible for a season to have tunnel vision, and I’d even say it’s necessary at fifrst. But it can turn on you – and suddenly! In business, we call this the leapfrog principle. Imagine I create a computer and become master of the universe when it comes to knowledge now (IBM). But a startup in a garage somewhere is creating new programs that are going to be fed into this computer. And the guy developing the program (Bill Gates) is saying, “You guys just build this stuff that we stick our stuff into. You have nothing without us.” That’s what churches can be like sometimes.

Immediately, out of nowhere, the business principle of leapfrogging through ideas takes place (and Microsoft overtakes IBM rapidly in a moment in time – almost to the point that IBM no longer exists despite the fact it was one of the top three most powerful companies in the world at one moment!).

We see this happen time and again. That’s why we as leaders must learn how to have both incredible focus and flexibility, which is harder to develop as you get older. You can focus talent right out of your perspective if you’re really good at focusing. It reminds me on an interesting phenomenon happening with Millennials right now. They do these things called power ratings. There’s a science behind it. But basically it is a rating of the generations to assess how much wealth they have, how much land they own, how much political power they have, how much influence. Baby Boomers are still at the top of the list with a 38 on the power scale. Second place goes to Gen Xers at a 24 rating.

They don’t own as much; they don’t have as much power; they’re pretty old.  Millennials are at a 14 on the power rating scale, yet they are the biggest group of society and the largest workforce at present. When Baby Boomers were the age of Millennials, they had the highest power rating as well. So it’s been said the biggest problem Millennials have isn’t all the stuff people talk about.  It is that they didn’t buy houses, they didn’t have babies, they didn’t get into places of power. They got caught up in their focus on other things like creating culture. Culture has become almost a cult war. They care more about culture, more about philosophy, more about what’s on YouTube than other generations.

Millennials are incredibly focused, though. This is why I do my best to redirect their focus to things that matter in the long run. I get behind the pulpit and tell our younger church members, “Remember, if you’re under 40, I want you out looking to buy homes.  I want you thinking about homes. I want you thinking about raising a family.” Why? Because then they’ll get a vision for it. They’ll buy their first house. They’ll make it work even though it seems like they can’t afford it, but somehow the money all comes together.

I show them Ecclesiastes 9:11. I believe this verse is saying, “You’ve done all this; you’ve done all that. You’re really awesome. You’re really focused. You’re smart. But remember this: God wants to come in and blow out your scotomas so you can see beyond your incredible, beautiful, wonderful ability to focus and succeed.” Why? Because our success right now might not carry us into our success tomorrow. They need to know that. You need to know that. You need to have vision and focus and run toward that thing with all your might. But you also need to know that your focus can blind you to things that matter, things God wants for you, things God wants you to do to advance His kingdom. It’s about Him anyway. We need to keep that in mind as we pursue our vision. May it be His and not ours, and may we as leaders remain humble and flexible, committed to following His will no matter the perceived detours or redirects.


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