Focus in one of the main things that is impressed in our world. We are given more and more techniques to help us get rid of distractions so that we can be more productive. We are told constantly that time is a key commodity that needs to be guarded carefully to ensure we achieve our potential.
Most people are probably familiar with Steven’ Covey’s pithy statement, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” It is very true for those of us he tend to get distracted.
But, sometimes the main thing can creep up and surprise us.
I recently discovered this when watching my son play football. My son loves Rugby League. Actually, we both love Rugby League. His advantage is that he can still play whereas my playing days are far behind me. Nowadays the best I can do is passionately support my team in the National Rugby League competition.
The problem he faces is that he is playing in the Under 16’s but only weighs 45 kgs. Most of his teammates are 55 kg plus. He has always been smaller than most boys his age and because of this for most of his life I have thought that his ambition did not match with reality on the footy field.
He is usually put out on the wing. Not because he is fast but because that is where he is out of the way. Usually in a game he rarely gets the ball. Then when tackling because of his size he doesn’t have the strength to deal with the power of some of the bigger players.
I have thought for a long time that he was doomed to be a winger. As much as he enjoys the game I believed he was destined to be on the periphery of the main action.
But, after watching him play recently I took a different tack. I asked him if he was really serious about playing. He replied, “yes”.
I talked to him about the need to build up his strength and whether he was committed enough to do the work to build some muscle so that he able to match some of the bigger guys on his team.
We then agreed on a strategy. It involves a routine of weights and stamina training. I told him that I would do this with him. My goal is to lose 5 kg and his is to gain 5kg.
Over the past couple of weeks we have been doing this together. Three times a week we try to run up a large hill near our place. This is to help with stamina.
The first morning was hard going for both of us. We spent about half our time walking. The really amazing thing was that I noticed that my son starting speaking to me in sentences again. This is a little surprising because like most 15-year-old boys his vocabulary is mostly reduced to the words, “I don’t know”. Or, other monosyllabic answers that don’t always make sense.
We started having a conversation. It was about stuff that I know little about. It was about things like YouTuber’s that are getting boring. Evidently there are people who earn their way by posting videos online and getting millions of viewers.
I have found for that period of time when we are working out I am able to enter his world. We are connecting together over a common goal.
The surprise for me is that what I thought was going to be the main thing is not the main thing. What I thought was the main thing has now become the second most important thing. The main thing that is emerging is a new conversation that is connecting us in a really lovely way.
This main thing is the relationship that is emerging out of this conversation. It feels like one of the most satisfying things that I do most days.
In a busy world where there are so many things to achieve it hit me that my most important achievements are in the relationships that I have. The blessing of satisfying work is emerges from the quality of the relationships in the workplace. Productive work is a bi product of the health of the relationships.
The quality of the conversations is an indicator of how things are going. The deeper the conversation the greater the capacity for healthier relationships.
For a long time I have sought to grasp something of the essence of the connections that develop between employees, the workplace and those who are companions on the way. I began my journey using the term mentor because of the personal attraction that I felt to that term and some of its mythology. But, recently this notion was challenged due to the nature of the desired relationships that are being sought
David Whyte talks about the ways in which help is brought to people in organisations. He talks of transactional helping relationships such as, coaches, mentors and psychologists, where the nature of the help is usually clearly defined. He describes another kind of help that he terms “invisible help”. This is a more contemplative understanding that has always been with us and has always been true, that is brought out in a conversation.
Wisdom is bringing the visible and the invisible to the surface for someone. It’s the help you don’t know that you need until it’s brought into the conversation. Wisdom is those questions that ask, “What is my relationship to the unknown?” The uncovering of the layers that separate us from that unknown is the way that “wisdom” emerges in our life.
I wonder if this is the surprising, “main thing” that I am looking to uncover? I think with my son I felt like a certain amount of wisdom has come to us.