Focus is a choice


It’s all very well and good parroting maxims like ‘focus is a choice’ but to prove it you have to live it.

This last week I’ve been doing a placement as part of my ordination training. I was compiling a report based on cross-referencing two sets of data from separate sources which needed collating entry by entry. I then had to write up a report to explain what the data showed and make some recommendations.

I’m well aware that this is the story of many people’s lives.
But it’s not my story.

I had to use skills which I’ve not used in years, and think and process information in a very different way to the way in which I have in the last few years of theological education.

The scenario itself isn’t the point at hand; it’s the contrast, the difference, the abnormality of it compared to my comfort zone.

Honestly, I’d rather read a report on data than compile the data myself. However this was to be my week.

What do I do?

I could have half assed it. I could have switched off and gone through the motions and done an alright job. The next person could then use my data and work with it.

Instead I chose to throw myself into it.
I chose to focus.

I wrote a brief. I broke down the information I needed to know so I’d know what to look for. Found it. Recorded it. And then I made it pretty. I took the beige tables of yeses and nos and turned it into a traffic light coded table of colour to visualise the information. I figured out how to rank the quality of the different entries and automated it. Then I wrote a report, structuring it to emphasise the important information, explaining what was relevant and making some considered, practical and actionable recommendations.

I also wrote my final essay for the year — 4000 words.

This morning I cycled in, got set up and waited for my meeting with my supervisor. One of the first things he did, before looking at my work, was to apologise for the boring nature of the task but said that it was important. I said that it wasn’t a problem, let me show you what I’ve done.

He opened it up and the data sheets shined like rainbows as I showed him the highlights of the data. He was surprised, he’d expected beige.

Then I showed him the report, again showing him the highlights and the table in the appendix which showed clearly the actionable next steps which would need to be taken.

I’d spent 4 days. Two days in the office, two days working from home. I’d sought clarification at the start, and once midway through — by email.

My supervisor explicitly praised me for both the quality of what I’d done, and for the independence with which I did it. Apparently I’ll be getting a good report.

This week has not been my typical week. I’ve had to think differently, do a different kind of task. But I’ve achieved, and achieved well.

And it’s all because I chose to focus.

What are you doing today?
What are you doing this weekend?
Are you focusing?

This short post is another example of choosing to focus.
My overall aim with Medium is not necessarily to write an amazing post each time, but to grow as a writer. To do that I need to write regularly. I’m currently on the train, so why not write? When I’ve published this, I’ll read a book, because that also helps us develop our writing. Why not focus on growing so I can become in reality who I like to think I am?

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