It is just so easy to be doing busy work. Putting in hours and effort on that which is peripheral to the actual work; postponing the actual work with what I call edge work.
I’m sad to say that I’ve been one of the worst at this. Years back a new connection said to me, what is it that you are about?
He asked this question after looking at the many things I was doing at the time. It was a great question and it often takes a fresh pair of eyes to see what we are chronically blind to ourselves.
In the years since that conversation I’ve been on a path of weeding out the peripheral and getting down to the core. It’s been a somewhat gruelling process of saying no to a good many things and of allowing and seeking clarity.
I don’t know why we avoid the very thing we are to be most about. But I have certainly done this over the years and I offer today a few things I’ve learned about removing this habit of avoidance from your own life.
1. Identify your Profession.
I write this to every person no matter if you are a young stay-at-home Mom, in your middle years with work at hand each day, or whether you are retired with time at your disposal. Profession is really just about our core work. It’s about the activities we engage each day. Some of these draw a wage and others do not. I’m not talking about money, rather what are you about? Consider the things that you like to do and are currently involved in. Which of these is what you truly want to be about and which ones are not? For instance, I blog but I am not a blogger.
A professional blogger makes their living from blogging. Professional bloggers think blogging 24/7 in such a way that all their efforts and strategy and work goes into making their blog the base from which they make their living. The distinction is that I am not a professional blogger nor do I wan to be one.
What things are you about that need this kind of fine-tuned distinction? Really take into consideration the activities you are engaging and decide if it is in fact what you want to be doing.
It’s a little like getting a job as a sales associate at a women’s clothing store. Without clarification one may miss that this job is all about folding and hanging clothes for a living. To take on this activity you must be sure that folding clothes eight hours a day is what you actually want to do.
Over the years I’d automatically assumed that I’d love to have my blogs followed by thousands of people but I’ve watched those whose blogs are followed by thousands of people and I’ve seen the hundreds and hundreds of comments that must be replied to and engaged with and I get tired just thinking about it.
Professional bloggers engage with their audience in a way that I am not very good at quite frankly. This was really good for me to realize. Paring down our assumptions and expectations and gaining small distinctions of clarity over our own lives is freedom in so many ways. To realize that ‘yes I blog’ but that ‘no I am not a blogger’ has been a huge weight off my back and in this clarity I’ve been released another step into my core work.
Where might you use some similar clarity? What are you doing that has been assumed is part of the package of you but perhaps isn’t? How might you release yourself of some unbidden expectations?
2. Get Rid of the Busy Work
Some years back I was serving and captaining banquets at a local golf course. In the course of this work I and my coworkers set many, many tables. Sometimes, more often than one would believe, we would finish one client’s event only to flip the room for another imminent event. Often we would have forty-five minutes to clean up from one 200 person event and have the same room ready for the next 200 person event.
It was imperative therefore to work as efficiently as possible. Now there are two ways to set a room of tables.
Each table seated eight people and there were always those who worked to set out eight forks, eight knives, eight of each thing required onto the tables. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight cups. Put onto the table in piles of three or four. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight forks, in their pile put onto the table. And so on. Glasses, spoons, side plates, forks etc and etc. All counted out and placed on each table.
Now this, I am sure, felt like great work accomplished. Thing is that while the piles of things were on each table THE TABLES WERE NOT YET SET. And you can imagine how difficult it was to then set a table that had piles of supplies on it. The whole scenario was such a complete and utter miscalculation of energy and focus that it was laughable if one wasn’t crying.
The clarity missing was that nothing ever needed to be counted. Pick up a pile of plates and put one at each place setting. Go round from table to table till you run out of plates. Get a new pile of plates and repeat till finished. And so on with each thing. Forks did not need to be counted, pick up as many forks as you can carry, or put the fork bin on your hip, and walk around the tables putting forks where they need to be beside each plate. Repeat with each thing until the job is complete.
There should have been a sign that said, ‘NO COUNTING ALLOWED’. Counting was busy work and was not only utterly superfluous to the job at hand but in fact impeded the actual job being accomplished in a timely manner.
How many times are we doing this in our lives?! How much busy work are we engaging with great feelings of accomplishment only to realize at some point in time that we have been completely missing the point? Too many times I wager.
Today, take some time to think through the activities of your life. Think through your daily activities and determine if in fact they are serving you and the thing/s you want to be about. Are you involved in core critical activities that boost your experience of life or are you putting in time with busy work?
The tragedy with busy work is that it gives a false sense of accomplishment. It would be better to sit on a chair on the back deck than engage wasted effort, energy, and focus. ‘What do I really want to be about?’ is a question we all need to ask ourselves from time to time.
3. Identify What Moves You
Years back a friend introduced me at a speaking engagement. In her introduction she commented that ‘Cyndy has taught me how to pray’. I wanted to weep. I was so moved by this simple endorsement about my impact in her life.
Only last week I recalled this moment and realized with new eyes and fresh understanding how integral prayer is to who I am and the ministry and influence of my life. It was a eureka moment for me and I am still wondering how in the world I had missed it. I am incredulous how much I missed this till now.
But isn’t this the way with what is right in front of our noses!
I’ve observed over the years that we so easily miss our own genius. Seriously. The things we are good at and what comes easy to us seem too easy.
Prayer for me is integral. I’ve been sitting in prayer before the Lord my entire life. Schooled in healing prayer, gifted in deliverance and inner healing, anointed unto transformations for others through prayer, intent on bringing prayer ministry to indigenous pastors, affirmed by those closest to me ‘Cyndy when you pray lives are changed’, comment after comment by others, I pray in tongues and person after person tells me that bondage was just removed from them, healed lives after healed lives and I was completely missing prayer as my core work (I am still stunned).
What about you? What seems so easy to you that you’ve missed the genius of it and the impact you might have in others lives with and through it?
What just flows out of you? What do others say about you? What moves you?
I hope that there is no ought our should in my post today. I hope that you catch a vision for the opportunity available to you to be about the exact thing you want to be about.
There has been no other time in history where we have such opportunity to make of our lives exactly what we want them to be. Barriers to entry have virtually, and in some cases completely, been removed. Information, education about anything and everything, is available for any who would look for it. Creativity and artistry is being rewarded and valued like no other time in history. We now celebrate with our attention and time and dollars those who step up to the plate in full authenticity of who they are. It truly is an amazing time to be alive on planet earth.
At the same time, and because of these exact same things, we are so easily taken off course by the very many good things we can be about. But today, if you had to choose just one thing, what would it be?