May 2014

On Focus

May 8, 2014 09:57

There are times when life suddenly takes a sharp detour down a road you never even saw coming and all you can do to prepare is hold on and hope it will all shake out for the best. Hope in the face of adversity takes a lot of focus and energy, distracting us from participating fully in our daily pursuits. This too, shall pass. It will, but it’s frustrating.

It all started with a meeting invite. In my job, we get multiple meeting invites each day. As far as detours go, they are minor blips on the radar. We grumble about lost productivity, attend the meeting and move on.

The heading, “Mandatory Attendance”, was slightly unusual, but not so much that it caused concern. The premise of the meeting, “Vendor Update”, seemed innocuous enough. However, the more observant of us noticed that the first two names on the calendar invite were representatives from Human Resources. Soon, furtive whispers could be heard from small groups of teammates squeezed five or six to a cube.

What’s happening? Are we moving again? Have we been bought out? Is management rolling out a new third-party software? Why would HR be involved in something like that? Maybe we’re expanding. Speculations passed from cube to cube like a winter virus. Our direct management was holed up in a meeting – offline, and unavailable.

The next morning, we all filed into the conference room with our pens and notepads, ready to find out what was going on. Boom! Another reorganization, five months on the heels of the grueling one we just finished, and the third in eighteen months. Not all of us will have jobs. We’ll find out for sure in a few weeks. Just like that, we were cast into uncertainty once again.

News like that has a trickle down effect. It’s funny, when things were the toughest last winter, I threw myself into violin practice. Here I was, during one of the busiest work and holiday seasons of the year, dealing with a family death, but also transitioning into a new job role, a new space, and new responsibilities; but I managed to play the violin more. I solved so many problems during that time, and improved a great deal.

The effect of this transition has been quite the opposite. I stare into space during practice, if I practice, and mindlessly play the same thing over and over. I’ll play an etude I know well rather than tackle the problem areas in my current concerto. I’m not present in my practice, and that means I’m not making any progress.

It appears that drive encourages drive. In December, I was driven to succeed in my new role, which spilled over into the rest of my life. With this new transition, we are in limbo, which results in a lack of progress in other areas.

Maybe what needs to happen is to change my focus. If I start being present in my violin practice, perhaps that will spill over into my work life and change will happen in the other direction. It’s worth a shot.

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