Two weeks ago, I was meeting with a friend I’m mentoring. I gave him the same assignment. When we met again this week, he had done the assignment thoughtfully and well. I reminded him of my story and started to list my three things. I discovered that I couldn’t remember the words. I still had the basic concepts, but the words that capture what I’m about, what I most love to do, were not at hand.
Later in the afternoon, I was reading a book on spiritual formation. The author referred to part of the Bible. I thought, “that matters to me a lot…but I forgot about it.”
Twice in the same day, specific things that I say are important, that I say are core to who I am, were not in my brain.
This isn’t a post about failing memory. It isn’t a post about hypocrisy or about the gap between what we say we believe and what we really believe. I mean, I could write those posts easily. But for now, my message is more straightforward:
Renew what matters.
I am aware right now, deeply aware, that I need to consistently, systematically, randomly, deeply, quickly, multisensorily renew what matters.
Stuff evaporates from my attention. I read so much, I talk so much, I listen to so much, I do so much that there is constant erosion. If I don’t go back to my core three things and review them, how am I going to be able to tell them to other people (“Here’s what I’m about. Um, well, something like this anyway.”) In the middle of schedule conflicts, how am I going to sort out the best from among the good and the merely distracting?
Renewing may be as simple as repeating something out loud. It may be blogging about your core every month. It may be taking a retreat–whether for an hour or a week–and going back over your list of what matters. It may be a date with your spouse or child. It may be a pep talk with your staff. It may be what I did one day.
My boss and I had been running on different schedules, seeing each other occasionally, but not for much conversation. After about a month of this, I was struggling with trying to keep keep our staff on task, with knowing what he wanted. One afternoon I said, “come here,” and took him into the auditorium. We sat in the back of the room and I said, “tell me again what you see our passion is.”
Ten minutes later, I was back on track. (and so were the two of us).
Maybe it’s me. Maybe your brain and heart and body remember everything clearly, and can quickly dispense with the irrelevant. However, if you are struggling right now with your elevator pitch, your personal vision, your one thing, your confusing schedule, your chaotic heart, try this:
renew what matters.