Pivotal Moments Part 2: Two Kinds of Energy

There are two kinds of energy–positive and negative. How might things change if you changed your focus from what you are against, to what you’re for?

George Lucas said once that your focus determines your reality. So where is yours?

Last week I shared how breaking with your past is an important first step to realizing your vision. This week I want you to think about the power of focusing your energy on what you want to be about. In response to my last blog, one of my readers in the L.A. area messaged me about losing his job saying,

I never felt more unhappy and dissatisfied with my employment at the time and it’s been a giant back handed compliment/blessing getting released from that position. Although I haven’t figured out what I’m supposed to be doing yet, I definitely think getting fired has been the hard blessing I needed.

In his message, he shared with me how the role he was working in wasn’t aligned with who he wanted to be. Even though he’s currently looking for work, he’s using the time to sharpen his thinking in on what he wants to be about.

Many of us go through seasons where we are negatively motivated—and that’s okay. But at some point, our allocation of energy has to change. Maybe something is wrong in your current environment and you know it because when you go to work, you find yourself swallowing awkwardly when you talk with certain teammates or find yourself in certain situations. Listen to that. It points to a value you have that isn’t aligned. On the other end, think of the positive value you wish was in place? I learned early on that naming what you are for will take you a lot farther than dwelling on what you are against. Reallocating your energy in this direction changes everything.

I first worked as a High School teacher, but that wasn’t my professional ambition. My professional ambition was originally to be a minister. Yet, during college and even my first years of professional work, I ended up working at private boarding schools.

The first school I worked at was in North Georgia. It’s location enabled me to do all kinds of great things with the students on the weekends. We took them hiking, whitewater rafting and more. Of course, this kind of activity provided lots of time to talk.

One day a few of us teachers and some parents were talking. The subject came up of why I was working as a teacher instead of a minister and, being in my early 20’s, I shared how I didn’t want to be cooped up in an office counseling people while wearing a suit and tie.

I’m sure I carried on longer about what I was against. But at some point, one of the parents asked me two powerful questions that changed everything for me. He began by asking,

“What do you imagine things should be like?”

This question tapped in to the power of my imagination. “I want to be out in real life with people,”  I said. More ideas kept coming. I wanted to work with students. I wanted to get them outside. I wanted to use shared experiences to spark community learning. Then he asked me a second question.

“Why can’t you be the guy who does that?”

For a split second I had nothing to say. I realized how much energy I was wasting thinking about what I didn’t want to be rather than what I did want to be. Years later, the ideas simmering in my mind came out as I told my high school students, “the world doesn’t care what you don’t believe. So get clear on what you believe and be about that.”

The power of positive focus has changed everything for me. I did end up working as a minister for many great years. For ten years I worked with students taking them backpacking, mountain biking and more. In that role, I was able to add the unique things that made me who I was and harness them to serve others. Working in this role served to create space for my ideas to form and eventually create a parallel career, the one I work in now.

Learning the power of positive focus and articulating what I was about changed everything. Working today with executive teams, I have them tell stories of when they were proudest to be a part of their company. We mine those stories for values. Then we put processes in place to match what the company is like, when at its best.

Learning the power of positive focus was a pivotal moment for me. Putting my efforts toward what I wanted to be about has kept me going. Personally, I want to help people make space to get clear on their vision and help them align that vision with a simple strategy to see it come to fruit. How about you? What’s the positive end goal you need to be focusing on?

Ask yourself the same two questions that parent asked me years ago. What do imagine things should be like for you? Why can’t you be the one that does that?

After you’ve seriously answered those questions, you’ve got to put simple strategies in place to overcome the obstacles you think are in your way.

How are you learning the power reallocating your energy toward what you are for, rather than what you are against? How does this way of thinking change things for you? I’d like to hear about it.

Next week I’d like to share about pivotal moment three for me—it’s about a time when I learned the value of trying (and maybe failing) vs. not trying anything at all.

Until then, I’d love to hear from you.

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