This is how focused action works. In order to maintain effective actions that move you forward in a meaningful way, you must have three drivers. The first is the pulling action created from an articulated goal. The other two drivers are directional pushes created by problems and opportunities.
Imagine a space shuttle being pulled into earth by gravitational force. Gravity is like your articulated goal and in order to get where you need to go, you need to use rear thrusters of problems and opportunities that keep you in the right direction. It’s a constant, disciplined adjustment one way or another to keep you on course.
Without the first pulling driver of a defined goal, we move like a skateboarder doing kick turns to push herself forward, constantly moving side to side to get moving.
The three drivers of focused action are scalable—applicable to everything from projects to major life journeys. In the life-sized scenario, the pulling driver is a primary goal, that is, a goal that is integrally connected to all other aspects of your life—your personal mission (which is where ethics and moral integrity come into play and is a subject for another time). You are pulled along by this mission and guided by constant adjustments informed by problems and opportunities that keep you on course. In concert, those drivers define your actions to be meaningful and effective.
But there’s another thing about flying a space shuttle that serves as an instructive analogy. To ensure good performance you need to know how your aircraft is oriented to the earth, known as pitch or attitude. Are all three axes of your craft at the right angle? Moreover do you have the correct level of power to execute your objective? Aviators use this equation:
Attitude + Power = Performance
And such is life.
Focused action is essential if you want to contribute in a meaningful way to the world around you, but you also need to put in the right attitude and the right energy. That doesn’t mean you have to constantly walk around grinning like a lunatic and acting like a cheerleader. As my brother-in-law would say, “I do not want to be around when that person comes down.” And come down they will.
The key word here is “Right,” as in “right attitude and right energy.” Just as an astronaut could give a space shuttle too much power going into a particular maneuver or spin out of control with the wrong pitch. Those principles apply in life.
While you are taking focused action, be aware of applying the right energy and attitude. Are you being overly optimistic, getting caught up in the glow of approaching success and blinding yourself to better options or potential hazards? Do the focused actions you need to take warrant a chipper attitude or does it require a more stoic touch. How about your energy level? Do you need to slow it down to make sure you don’t miss important details or considerations? Do you need to hit the juice because motivation is lagging or you’re losing interest?
Life is hard and distractions abound. It is often difficult to be as effective as we need or want to be. Especially in our fast-paced environment, many of us at one point or another forget why we’re putting in all this effort, or forget to consider problems and opportunities, and instead get caught up in only reacting to the world around them. This is no way to live. The human mind needs to innovate not just reciprocate, or else it will stagnate. We all must work to be proactive in bettering the world. Reacting to problems is not good enough. Nor is behaving like an aimless opportunist. The world needs you. Challenge us.