I’ve mentioned the word focus quite a bit in my leadership thoughts. In the last few days, I’ve heard the word focus used over and over again in various news articles or internet posts. Among the many emotions and thoughts that raced through my head as a result of the terrible tragedy in Connecticut, I started to really think about what it means to focus. There is a wave of sentiment to focus on the victims of the horrible crime instead of on the criminal. I’ve read many different viewpoints about the focus of guns in our society and culture. I myself have advised leaders to direct and guide the focus of them and their teams – but again, what are we trying to say with the word focus?
Seems like a silly question since we use the word every day and know most of its literal definitions: the point of convergence of a beam of particles, the center of activity or attraction, or maybe a distinct vision. My favorite, though, and the one that I refer to when I encourage leaders to focus, is a state permitting clear perception or understanding (Merriam-Webster). When it comes to overwhelming emotion – grief and despair – how can we truly find focus? What perception or understanding is there to be gained in the wake of such unbelievable horror like shooting innocent children?
Like many others, my first reaction to the news of last week was Why?? Then, as I contemplated it further, I realized there is no why. To expect an answer to the question why implies there is some kind of answer to be found; in this case there is none. The question of why means there is a reason that we can wrap our hearts and our heads around to try to make sense of this tragedy. However, there is no sense, no logic and no reason that can be found in this sort of behavior. The problem with not having an answer is that it is wholly unsatisfying to us as humans.
I am no psychologist, but from my own experiences, I need to fill in the answers to the questions so there is a resolution – a closing. Without a response to my question – why – it is hard to deal with my inner turmoil. Unfortunately, as with any tragedy from the Oklahoma City bombings, 9/11, or even Connecticut, the bottom line is there will be little I can do except eventually reconcile my own emotions. This brings me back to the original subject of focus. As with each one of us, I can only control my own self – my own actions and reactions to the world around me.
There will be many debates in the upcoming weeks and months around gun control and mental illness – two major topics resulting from the recent happenings in the Northeast. I can only hope and support the leaders who take the time to find true focus – I mean clear perception and understanding – in order to move our society toward a brighter future. In my own opinion, we need to fight, not run, from the evils of our society; otherwise they will overtake us from behind. We must stand and fight against those influences and problems that might tear us apart from each other. In that regard, I will turn my focus to my children. I cannot stop everything, but I can help shield my family from the onslaught of malevolence in the world.
We have made our world too complicated when it is really quite simple – focus. Give these questions some thought: Where is your focus? What impact does that have on your own environment or family? Those few answers can help guide you toward emphasizing your focus or changing your focus. We all can make a difference…if we find our focus.