I recently read an interview with Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard, on why she had split the company in two and formed two separate corporations. She is now the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprises (focusing on software and business services) and Dion Weisler is the CEO of HP Inc, which sells hardware. When Whitman was asked how this new arrangement was working out, she responded: “The separation will be judged a success if the two companies go on to thrive as industry leaders. Already I can see a difference in how they’re run. Dion Weisler, HP Inc.’s CEO, is focused on his business; I’m focused on mine. I had underestimated the benefit of focus, because you can’t put it in a cash flow model. It’s a remarkable accelerant.”
There is a power when you focus your life and have less distractions
She makes a great point, there is a power when you focus your life and have less distractions. In one sense you become much more effective by being more selective in how you spend your time.
In his best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren speaks of the power of a focused life:
The power of focusing can be seen in light. Diffused light has little power or impact, but you can concentrate its energy by focusing it. With a magnifying glass, the rays of the sun can be focused to set grass or paper on fire. When light is focused even more as a laser beam, it can cut through steel.
There is nothing quite as potent as a focused life, one lived on purpose. The men and women who have made the greatest difference in history were the most focused.
This is particularly true when it comes to our spiritual lives
I find that in this modern world, our lives are scattered and we are going in too many different directions. We become easily drawn away from what really matters. This is particularly true when it comes to our spiritual lives.
I am reminded of an incident in the book of Luke in which Jesus is in the home of Martha and Mary. Luke describes it in the tenth chapter (v. 38-42)
Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to his word.
But Martha was distracted with all her preparations, and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Notice the words that were used to describe Martha: “distracted, worried and bothered.” Does that ever describe your life? Notice that Jesus’ response to her has nothing to do with right or wrong. It is not a moral issue that He raises with Martha. It is a priority issue. Jesus is revealing that as humans, we get so busy, distracted, and worried about the many trivial issues in life. But only a few things really matter, and there is one thing that should be our highest priority, more important than everything else. And Jesus points to Mary as an example. We see in verse 39, “she was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.”
Only a few things in life have great value
Jesus makes it clear that only a few things in life have great value, but so many of us are like Martha, going in too many directions, being drawn away from what really matters. In the end, I believe it requires us to simplify our lives so that we are less likely to be diverted by the things of life that are ultimately of little importance.
Several years ago, Bob and Judy Fisher, a husband-and-wife team living in Nashville, Tennessee, wrote an interesting book on the subject of long-term thinking. Their book, entitled Life is a Gift, focuses on, among other things, a life of regret. The Fishers interviewed 104 terminally ill patients, all of them under hospice care. In each case there was a recurring theme:
So many people realized too late that there was a significant gap between the things they ought to be doing in their lives, and the things they actually did.
Sadly, this is what happens in the lives of so many. We fritter away our lives because we refuse to focus on that which really matters. In the process we end up with this huge gap between the life we dream of and aspire to, and the life we end up with.
I cannot be more emphatic: There is power in a focused life!