These are busy times in which we live. Electronic media and technology have invaded nearly every aspect of our lives in the name of convenience. Many couples are each working jobs. Then there are the children, activities at church, chores around the house, banking and errands and obligatory parties and gatherings. Who among us hasn’t felt the pressure of the hustle and bustle of our modern way of living?
It seems as if “busyness” has infected us all. None of us in immune. It calls to mind the quote from Henry David Thoreau who wrote: “It is not enough to be busy, so too are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” I have always liked this quote, because it cuts directly to the heart of the matter. Author Marshall Goldsmith states, “It is time to stop dreaming of a time when you won’t be busy.”
Apparently, being busy is just part of life. It has probably always been this way since the days when gathering fire wood, hunting, and preparing meals consumed all of one’s time. But busyness is no excuse for lack of performance, or more importantly, lack of living an authentic, purposeful, significant life. We simply must find a way to cut through it all and make our days count.
Who hasn’t tried some sort of time management tool? Who hasn’t struggled to live according to one’s priorities? It all makes much more sense when we sit through the lecture series or read the brochures, but when it comes to truly living these principles, things seem to go awry.
Rascals, however, find a way. They understand their priorities and find a way to align their actions accordingly. There are several factors that play into this. As we have already discussed, one way is to have a clear and definite purpose in mind.
In the Bible we are told of three wise men traveling from the east around the time of the birth of Jesus. It is thought by historians that these men were likely from the land of Persia. A quick glance at the map shows many geographic obstacles between the heart of Persia and tiny Judea. We are told that these men traveled across these difficult and hazardous lands by following a bright star shining in the sky. This star provided a point of navigation to keep them on track no matter what challenges they encountered below; be it bandits, rivers, mountains, deserts, or jealous kings. In similar fashion, Rascals navigate through the pressures of their lives by progressing toward something solid and clean on their horizon. No matter what is encountered, a true Rascal can follow his own path if guided by a star in his future sky. Looking up is the best way to pass through things that can bring you down. It’s when your focus is bigger than your obstacles that you can make progress.
Having clear and energizing goals is another major tactic to avoid the trap of busyness. Goals should be exciting, stretching, and specific. If they don’t exert a power to perform, then they are not believable enough, not specific enough, or not short-term enough.
Goals make prioritization easy. One can simply ask, “Will this help me get closer to my goal?” If not, it shouldn’t be done. Notice how difficult this becomes if there is no goal. But with a goal, once can look at anything and everything that comes along and determine, “Does this fit?” and “What’s important next?”
This is all critical because the enemy of great is “good.” There are literally millions of good things out there we could be doing with our time. There are pass-times and hobbies and people and places to visit, things to explore and activities with which to become involved. Any of these things may be fine on their own. However, if we do not learn to distinguish between great and good, we will waste countless hours doing good things while missing out on the great. Focus is so important, and if we have a clearly defined goal, making decisions about what is good and what is great to do next becomes easier in light of that goal.
There is another concept that we will call ‘pruning.’ This is something a Rascal does every time he feels the press of too many things or activities around him. Somehow he has allowed too many commitments, interests, or distractions into his life. The only prudent thing to do at this point is to make adjustments, deciding that some things simply have to go. Which activities are not central to achieving the goal? Which are not directly in line with life’s purpose? Which can wait until later? As hard as it may be, one has to get good at saying ‘no’ to a lot of good things in order to preserve space for the great things. In other words, a Rascal is slow to allow anyone to complicate his life.
It should be clear at this point that Rascals who achieve the most are the best at focusing upon what is most important in terms of their goals and overall purpose. They keep themselves free of the distractions of lesser things and ensure that their busyness is about something meaningful and in line with their larger purpose.
(Posted by Kristen Seidl, on behalf of Chris Brady)