Changing perspectives on focus and opportunities
The new year is upon us. This new year brings new opportunities to become more. The beginning of this new year has been interesting so far due to the closing of my employer. It’s brought an opportunity to grow my career and start the technical book I always wanted to write.
This event didn’t catch me by complete surprise but started getting my mind thinking about work. So, I want to take some time to talk about how we focus on work and possibly underestimate teamwork.
In preparing for pharmacy school a few years ago and I began to focus on a particular job, career path or future that I might have. I had this career path planned out and, if you’ve read my posts, know that it didn’t work out. It was a complete internal disappointment that eliminated all I planned.
Now that I’m facing a change in jobs, it’s creating another realization that I was too comfortable in my last job. In this comfort, I took time for granted. I found that I wasn’t seriously planning for a scenario that ended with me leaving that job on my own or when this job would no longer be available. I wasn’t assuming the job would always be there but I wasn’t considering when it could end.
Can we be too focused?
It’s understandable that we can become focused on a job or career. It creeps on us, our sense of self and the future we plan for ourselves by how long we can have our jobs.
As we narrow our focus, we can develop a false sense of happiness. We can come to believe that this one thing, this portion of our lives, is the only path to our happiness and prosperity.
When we don’t find this job or lose this job, it can feel like a major obstacle in our paths. It can feel like our hopes or dreams have no chance to become a reality.
We can make the mistake of directing this focus completely on our job or career. For example, I started to write a technical guide for people interested in my field.
This is something I wanted to do for a while but it wasn’t high on my priorities. Or I didn’t make the time to do it. For some of us, we lose opportunities. Loss happens when we become so fixated on our jobs that opportunities, such as writing the book, are gone.
Or, we lose sight of why we work so hard. There’s a lesson in this; it’s good to diversify our interests so we can increase our opportunities.
Focused for a while on writing and posting on this site. It started to be distracting by it, but at the same time, I felt that it wasn’t going anywhere. This happened around the time I started losing interest in my job. The repetition along with the decreased opportunities to grow and learn could have redirected my attention to the site.
This kind of focus doesn’t have to be about a job or hobby, directed towards a person or relationships, this kind of focus can be toxic. Sometimes we can find ourselves fixated on a person that we lose focus on ourselves.
I’ve discovered there is a common solution to a lot of the questions we face. The solution to this fixation is to understand ourselves, to explore and discover what we are about and what catches our interests.
Once we start learning about our interests we can direct them to things like jobs or hobbies that can not only provide a living but also help us feel like we are doing something with our lives. It creates opportunities in different areas that can help influence other areas to create innovation in our lives.
When I started feeling like my last job wasn’t offering anything towards my personal development and growth it was a lack of understanding of myself that was reflecting back, not the stagnant feeling I had toward that job.
What I liked about that last job was the qualities of problem-solving and how the tasks were like working with a large scientific puzzle. Yet, I let myself believe this was the only place these qualities could exist.
I know this isn’t true. Yet, I became comfortable where I was and I let myself believe this was true. This became a source of stagnation in my career and limited my potential for new things.
My focus to that job resulted in a thought process of what can I get out of this? It wasn’t always like that, at one time I focused on what I liked about the job. There are qualities about that type of work and writing on this site that I find appealing.
Once we start to direct our attention to the qualities of a job or hobby the better we are able to break that strict attention to that job. This can help us identify other opportunities or hobbies that wouldn’t have occurred to us because we had our attention strictly on one task.
Finding value in people
We are amazing and limited people when we try to go at something alone. This reminds me our race to the moon. There are a few of us that are good, even excellent, at some things.
Yet, no matter how good we are at something we are all allocated the same amount of time each day. It could be a large and exhausting challenge for any one person to go at it alone and get everything done.
Yet these things, individually, didn’t take us to the moon. It was when we combined the efforts of these people we were able to achieve great things.
We tend to view things in life as individually based. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can be helpful when planning our futures. Yet when we want to create things beyond ourselves, it takes teamwork. Our ability to work with other talented people doesn’t take away from our individually, it expands our individual potential.
Teamwork is our ability to not let our egos get in the way of our common goals. It’s an opportunity for us to learn from the expertise of others and to expand our knowledge and experiences.
In my experience of pharmaceutical development, not everyone can be an expert on all topics. Though you can learn enough to make connections between what happens with how you develop medications and what will happen when it goes out to people.
Or, you may think a liquid works well but you might not be able to market it unless it’s a pill. These are learning opportunities that teamwork can provide.
No matter how smart, innovative, or capable your problem-solving abilities are, the right team is stronger than the individual. This reminds me of when I was in the Army. I was in field artillery and each of us had a job when we trained together our combined strength was greater than any one of us alone.
When we have a good team, we can see our limits and the value of our contributions. We can see how the project or mission benefits and the successes that follow.
There are times when the team doesn’t work well together, this happens because we are imperfect people. This is a great opportunity to remind ourselves that each person has value. To realize we all have our good and bad days but we are still able to contribute to the team. And importantly, don’t take things so personally.
There are times to suppress your ego
With teamwork, our ego or desire for personal success is minimized, though not completely suppressed. We can still invest in our personal successes by doing the best job we can when we can.
Though teamwork helps shape groups that share common goals and beliefs. It can minimize failure by allowing others to step in and help and amplify success. This is by creating a bigger achievement together than what’s done individually.
Teamwork helps keep projects and teams going. It may seem that an individual makes a sports team but the team survives the loss of that member. The same goes for the military. I was part of a great tradition that started a long time before me and will extend far beyond me. Teamwork creates a contract or link across generations.
Looking across generations
Because individually we are limited in what we can do, our way of life is based on multi-generational actions. Modern life is greater than our local communities, it’s a link that binds people across generations and continents.
The freedom we enjoy and sometimes take for granted reach from the past and rely on us for the present and future. Our contributions may seem small at the moment but these are the groundworks for our way of life.
For example, the history of the United States contained a lifestyle that could be “nasty, brutish, and short” (Hobbs). Each footstep towards the Pacific displaced one people for another. The people that can trace their ancestors to the western settlements have come from survivors.
Each generation inherited both the problems and solutions of the past and bequeathed problems and solutions to the future. Teamwork can build great and terrible things.
Fixating on a singular action can cost us opportunities for growth and personal development in other areas. When we become so focused on a particular outcome we can lose sight of why we began the project.
These actions can distract us and we will start drifting from our personal vision. To prevent stagnation, it’s up to us to redirect our focus to other things. This way we can identify other opportunities or hobbies that wouldn’t have occurred to us because we had our attention strictly on one task.
As we pick our heads up to see our opportunities, we must not forget that we don’t have to go at it alone. We can escape our limitations and the view of our fragile selves and be part of something greater than ourselves while still maintaining our individuality and obtaining personal goals.
If you’re like me and find yourself drifting into a narrow focus when you’re on the right path out. If you’re just now realizing this then take the opportunity to pull yourself out to regain perspective.
Let me know how you’re doing and what your experiences.