My wife and I were at a gala recently…it was a socially distant, sparse crowd celebrating the culture-changing work of Martin Luther King Jr.

A business owner came up to me and said, “I’m reading your book and want you to know that I feel like you are writing directly to me.”

Curious I asked, “what in the book made you feel that way?”

Her response, “I’m in constant chaos.”

We regularly poll our clients and those who attend our in-person live events and online workshops and the number one piece of feedback we receive from business owners and key leaders is, “I cannot focus.”

Focus is an interesting word that carries with it the ideas of clarity, center, core, or bull’s eye.

 

Lead Well.

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We blame the current culture of screens, screams, and scram.  The truth is we don’t have to scroll the devices (screens).  We don’t have to turn on the news and noise (screams).  We don’t have to do everything we have been invited to do (scram).

Hundreds of years ago the word focus was synonymous w/ a fireplace in a home…a hearth that was the center of the room where people gather.

I love a (controlled) fire.  Honestly one of my favorite places on earth may be wherever there is an outdoor fire that we can stare at.  I’ve heard it called “nature’s tv”.  

It’s true.  I cannot stop staring, constantly stoking this dancing stage of contorted and vivid flames; never the same shape or rhythm and yet in constant motion.  

Business owners tell us they feel like they are constantly trying to put out little fires that always exist.  But what if those “little fires” are not threats to the business, but instead are lights along the path towards the vision that has been laid out.  

What if those are fires not meant to be extinguished, but instead meant to light the path to the real destination.

 

We cannot focus because we do not want to put in the effort to focus.  Please don’t be offended, but for most of us (save our first responders whose job is to intentionally respond to chaos), we react to chaos because it makes us feel needed; harrowed.  

Robert Cardinal Sarah in his book The Power Of Silence says, “Without noise (chaos), man is feverish, lost.  Noise gives him security, like a drug on which he has become dependent…noise is a whirlwind that avoids facing itself.”

We get to tell people when they ask how we’re doing, “I’ve just been so busy.”

Busy is not envied.  Busy is not the goal.  

Helpful, meaningful, transformational, impactful, useful….those are worthy goals.

Busy is…busy.

 

How do we stop succumbing to busy, loosen our addiction with the “feeling needed” that chaos brings, and instead be content in who we have been made to be?

We need to introduce more silence into our day-to-day.

Sarah goes on to say, “Without the capacity for silence, man is incapable of hearing, loving and understanding the people around him.  Clarity is born of silence.”

 

Clarity is born of silence.

Do you want clarity?  You will need to make more time for silence that Sarah contends leads to a heart “that is able to hear, to listen, and to welcome.”

Once you go silent, all of a sudden you will begin to hear the things that truly matter instead of just the things that are busy.

Silence used to be a societal value, now noise has assumed the podium.  You can take it back…and gain the clarity you are looking for.

 

Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters.  Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.