In an instant culture used to quick fixes, the long and vigilant process of transformation is not an appealing option. At least, not initially! Maybe we would rather avoid the hard work. Maybe the end goal seems too distant. Whatever the reason, like the toddler, we respond, “I want it now!” We need to change our focus.
I was working with a team of managers who was making good strides in the area of personal development, one of the values of the organization. The members reflected on the challenges of personal transformation with these honest statements:
- It takes vigilance.
- I have a life-time of habits to break.
- I’m training.
- I’m realizing my resistance to change.
This type of self-reflection is an essential part of the process of personal development and certainly, a good beginning. But there is more.
This reminds me of The Karate Kid (2010) which debuts this weekend in theaters. I know I’m a sucker for transformational stories, even if they’re sappy.
12-year-old Dre Parker gets bullied and with no one to support him turns to the maintenance man, Mr. Han, a Kung Fu master. What is the kid’s first comment as the training begins? “You gotta teach me how to control people!” Sound familiar? Give me an instant fix and if it’s about controlling others, all the better. The student has so much to learn. “There is only one person you must learn to control,” Han continues knowing that Kung Fu is about personal maturity and calm.
Ouch! That means the focus has to change. Rather than give our attention to the attitudes and behavior of others the focus needs first to be inner-directed. Robert Quinn writes, “When people alter their interior world, they also alter their exterior world.” Building the Bridge as You Walk on It
Real transformation does not occur when the other person sees the light, changes their attitude, or comes around to our way of seeing the world. That’s the wrong focus. Personal development is about our perceptions, our attitudes, and the way we see the world. And that takes intentional effort which is best accompanied by someone who cares about us enough to speak the kind truth.
At one point in the movie the young student abruptly tells Mr. Han that he has great focus. Funny, how our self-perceptions can be a bit clouded. Displaying the calmness and maturity of a Kung Fu Master, Mr. Han hangs the young Dre inches from the water and wryly responds, “Your focus needs more focus.” Oh to have people in our lives who care about us enough to tell us the kind truth. It may not be easy to hear. It may even sting for a while. But since the end goal is our personal development, it is worth it.
Does your focus need more focus?