I have visited many people in hospital before – to encourage friends and family, pray for their speedy recovery and wish them well. I have also had my own personal moments of being a “guest” at a number of such institutions – being pampered, eating special meals and having a plethora of tests with sophisticated equipment by qualified personnel. During these periods of “hospital residency”, I have never felt so cared for – various shifts of staff asking me continuously how I am feeling or if I am experiencing any pain or not. Most of the employees truly do care and “live” for their patients. I have been grateful.

One of the most striking things about being in a hospital bed lying on your back and looking at the ceiling, however, is the available time to think and reflect. There’s not much else you can do, but think. On such a recent occasion, faced with the frailty of the human being, observing concerned families and friends visiting those around me and seeing nurses, sisters and doctors scurrying around attempting to meet all the demands of their important roles, I realised again that life lived qualitatively requires focus on the important (things and relationships), with an appropriate elimination of the irrelevant issues that tend to crowd out the important. These seemingly important and sometimes even “urgent” aspects of life masquerade before us and cry out for our attention – they, however, are thieves of time that could have been spent in developing meaningful relationships, focusing on a meaningful project or honing one’s giftedness. Because of an apparent inability to say “no” to them, many miss out on realising dreams or experiencing the joy of relational depth. They seem to be really busy with a plethora of activities, many of which they will never be remembered for.

Perhaps a simple formula should be applied to all that we do – the formula outlined as follows:

  • What should I stop doing? I am not only here referring to bad habits or useless activities, but also to activities that take one away from one’s core role. Perhaps we need to ask: “Do I really have to do this task? Can it be delegated if it needs to be done? Can it be scrapped in totality?” The elimination of low value activities releases one to focus on the truly important – the same applying both personally and professionally to our lives.
  • What should I continue doing? There are important things that I know I am good at doing that add real value to my family or to my organisation – I should retain doing these things and enhance them if possible. Doing them well increases my influence and will ultimately lead me to reaching my goals. This will not only bring satisfaction, but will also build reputation.
  • What should I start doing? Neglecting giftedness and being far too busy often translates into missing opportunities and discounting key relationships in one’s life. A refocus of energy and application of the same to the truly important high leverage relationships and activities grows one’s future. The old adage rings true here – “as one focuses on one’s giftedness, doors start opening for one”. New opportunities will become apparent and the same will stretch one to reach new heights, at the same time growing one’s skills and abilities. It is in this arena that potential is discovered and a new lease of life is awakened.

Times of reflection can be valuable – not for digging up the bad or hurtful issues of the past, but rather for making some tough choices about one’s focus areas and subsequent application of one’s energy. Energy, applied with laser focus on meaningful and significant activities, will lead one forward to achieving great things and potentially leaving a powerful legacy.

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