In his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed today used this quote – “I started concentrating so hard on my vision that I lost sight.” (Robin Green)
Free reported that the Robin Green who is credited with this quote is at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, and helps the blind. Jack opined that the quote is about sight and insight, which I agree with. The quote also points to a problem often experienced by middle-aged men who have focused upon their careers.
It is all too easy to become so focused and intense on the pursuit of career goals that all else drops “out of sight”, including family. Some men become so focused and intense in their pursuit of career success that they develop a kind of tunnel-vision, seeing only what is directly ahead of them in their next career goal. They sacrifice family time by tell themselves that they are doing this for the family; when it is all about themselves and the intense focus that they have on success at work.
Most men do define themselves largely by their careers and the work that they do, more so than the things that they do with family. The answer to the question, “What do you do?” is seldom answered, “Well, I’m a husband and a father”, as the initial response.
It is certainly important to find a career or work that provides sufficient income to support the family; however, the work itself should always remain a means to an end and not the end in itself. Those who get too intensely focused upon work success lose sight of the importance of why they are working.
If you find yourself “working late” every night or working when you get home, instead of sharing time with family, you are probably too intensely focus upon work success. If you miss most of the games and plays and recitals of your children, you are probably too intensely focused upon work success. If you can’t remember that last time that you went somewhere with just your wife or perhaps with the whole family and had fun, you are probably too intensely focused upon work success. If you can’t remember how old your children are or the last time that you went to one of their birthday parties, you are probably too intensely focused upon work success.
Working harder and harder to try to earn more and more money is meaningless if you don’t spend time with family. Time spent with them is more important than the shiny new things that the money might buy. In the end, the kids will be grown and gone, and the luster will have faded from the shiny things and you will be left with stuff instead of memories. If you are lucky, your long-suffering wife may still be there; although, overly intense work focus is the root cause of many divorces.
So, pause every now and then and ask yourself if what you are doing, what you are so intensely focused upon at work, is really what you want out of life. Question the decision to work late rather than go to your son’s ball game. Recall when the last time you told your wife that you love her was and wonder why you don’t take time to do that more often. Challenge the thought that that next promotion at work will be the thing that makes you happier, rather than that next trip to the zoo or going on a picnic with family.
Try to imagine yourself in the end game of life, when you and your spouse are rattling around in your McMansion, surrounded by stuff that now longer matters, and ask that person if it was all worth it? Imagine what happened to the wife and kids while you were so intensely focused. They when on in life. The kids grew up and moved away. Maybe the wife developed other interests to fill her time or made new friends to fill in for her missing spouse. You’ll find that you can’t imagine much about that, because have no memories of those things happening – you weren’t there to see them.
The good news is that you may still have time to change your focus back to what is important in life. Go to your daughter’s dance recital rather than staying late to work on the next deal. Hire a sitter if needed and take your wife out to dinner (and don’t spent the evening looking at your phone). Reset your definition of success to be measured in happy family time, rather than a raise or promotion. You may, in fact, not advance as quickly at work or make quite and much money; however, I know that you will feel more fulfilled and be happier because you have refocused upon what is important in life.