Most of you reading this probably already know that I’m ADHD (Attention Deficit, Hyperactive Disorder), which means that (1) I don’t sit still well and (2) I am easily distracted.
“Oh look! A chicken.”
Yeah. That kind of distracted. That being so, I’ve had to learn to cope with focus most of my life. I’ve done a fairly good job of it … I have managed to write six books (so far – check out Prayer for People Who Can’t Sit Still as an example) and am working on another with my business partner and friend Bill Easum.
What I’ve discovered, in my church consulting gigs across the nation, is that there are a lot of church leaders out there who must be at least ADD. In fact, I don’t think I’m stepping to far out on a limb to suggest that maybe even most church leaders who are struggling to grow or transform their churches suffer from serious distractions. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be struggling to grow or transform their churches – they’d be growing them.
I’m in the process of writing an article on the most damaging distractions in the church, so I won’t go into exactly what those distractions are in this post.
Well, maybe just one. For most church leaders one of the greatest distractions is … what you’re doing right now. Computing. Many churches would actually have a shot at a turnaround if the pastor would shut down his/her computer for seven hours a day and actually do some networking and evangelism. Geoffrey Mitchell Tweeted about one of his Facebook friends “How does anyone with nine social networks have time to work?” I’m amazed at the amount of time “transformational” pastors spend on their computers. The truth be told, there’s an inverse principle to the amount of time spent on a computer and the results seen in a church’s transformation.
I get amazed at the number and length of posts church leaders make on a variety of online and email forums who are asking how to transform their churches and then write voluminous posts on what they read online, commenting on churches they’ve visited or heard about, and even offering advice to others about church growth, etc. How does any growing church pastor have that kind of time? The reality is that growing church pastors don’t. When I was a church planter I had to spend most of my day in the presence of people … mentoring my new leaders, networking with new neighbors, and going anywhere I could strike up a conversation with a living, breathing, local resident … all this just so I could keep gathering people for the new churches.
But I digress (surprise, surprise). What I want to share is a solution to focus that doesn’t eliminate distractions, but helps folks like me get past them well enough to, say, write a bunch of books (or to get through your one-hour of computing time each day so you can go spend time with real flesh-and-blood people). A couple years ago Dave Lakhani wrote a book that codified what I’d been practicing for a long time. His Power of an Hour has a gem that’s not buried in the pages, but lies there in plain site. That gem is this: Virtually anyone can hyper-focus for an hour. Even those of us with ADHD can generally find a way to get really, really, really focused on something for a single hour (if you can do it with a video game, you can do it with whatever you decide to do). The only question, then, is what do you do for an hour?
First, you decide what you need to do/accomplish. Like, I decided I needed to write this blog entry. Once you’ve decided, then you turn off Twitter. You turn off Outlook. You turn off Skype. You turn off all IM Chats. You turn off Facebook and MySpace. You turn off your cell phone – off, not on vibrate or flash. You turn off your phone. You turn off the radio. You turn off the television. You put the dog and the cat outside or in another room where you can’t hear them. Do the same, by the way, with the spouse and kids (or you go somewhere). Remove anything and everything that might be a distraction and then insert bottom into chair and focus.
If it helps, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and clear your head from distractions. Then get to work … but just for an hour. Turns out, that’s about all the time anyone can effectively spend in hyper focus. Do an hour and then take a ten minute or so break. If you have more you must get done, then do it again, but most of us can only do this a couple times in succession before we loose our energy, drive, and interest.
Here’s the bottom line. You’ll get a lot more done if you’ll kick into hyper focus drive a couple of times a day than if you do like most non-transforming pastors do … a little bit of this, a little bit of that. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. A little bit of … you get the idea.