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How I Learned to Focus on People (Over Tasks)

Our family was invited to two weddings this year. Our family really is at least three unique

entities as our children are all grown and have lives of their own. So, when I say our family was invited, all three parties were invited to both weddings. Exciting! However, there are 52 weeks in the year…..why did they have to be on the same weekend? And to make it impossible - they were in separate states, and opposite sides at that. That being said, Kris & Mandy went to the out of state wedding. I stayed in state and had some home time alone.

Yes, I still get DVDs.

I decided to rent a couple of movies at Redbox. Anyway, since this way is on the way out, that’s probably why there is a common 2FOR1 deal that goes on. And since I am watching them by myself, I picked two “love stories” - the kind that I like. Creed III and Champions. Both seemed to be sports-based, something that Kris isn’t particularly fond of. I jokingly call some of the movies that we watch as “love stories,” because there is often some kind of love interest. For example, if you like James Bond movies, special agent, Bond, James Bond, always loves his job saving the world, and then he also has an additional love interest going on as well. And, I hope you now see why I am in favor of “love stories.” (lol)

Let’s simply focus on the movie, Champions.

Woody Harrelson stars as Coach Marcus, a professional minor league basketball coach, who faces some professional and personal challenges of his own, and then finds himself ordered by the court to manage a team of players with intellectual disabilities. Coach Marcus is an expert when it comes to basketball; he’s a disaster when it comes to building relationships.

It’s funny really. I attend a variety of networking events as part of my newer career. There are only a handful of people that I have seen that are truly exceptional at building relationships with others. And the really interesting thing is, it is entirely possible to get better, if not get really good at it. It’s kind of like riding a bike. We do not start out doing it well, but with practice, we can even do it with “no hands!” In fact, Kris and I enjoyed riding bikes so much for a while that we even got a tandem bike. (Though never did I try it without hands - that could have been catastrophic!) Nevertheless, riding tandem does offer up some communication challenges! And then if we didn’t ride for a while, it takes a little attention to regain the skill. And every year, when we took the tandem for a spin, it was almost like an awkward first date, until we eventually got to pedaling in-sync. Nevertheless, the starts and stops and turns all required focused attention.

Our challenge is not all that unlike Coach Marcus when he is dealing with those on his team who face a variety of intellectual challenges. If things don’t go smoothly for us at times, we get impatient, frustrated, and maybe even rude. We lose our cool. We lose our control. What would life be like, if we practiced a bit more patience? What is the other person dealing with? Can any of us even begin to think that we have not been super appreciative of someone granting us some grace when we needed it most? If we can remember the great feeling when someone granted us breathing room, maybe we can do that too?

Have you ever heard the expression, “you can catch more flies with honey, than vinegar?”

If you have heard of this, you probably recognize how true it is. What keeps us from paying more attention to others? Our own selfishness. I know I was selfish, and truth be told, I don’t really want anyone to help me understand how bad I really was. I am a work in progress; and I always will be.

It’s about making people a task.

Kris loves to tell people how I as a task oriented person have learned to improve my focus on people. Not so that I can do it once, and then cross it off my list. Actually, it’s more like it’s at the top of my list. Ever present to remind me to think about people first, before I go on to the next task list item, and this “people taks” never gets crossed off.

Certainly some are able to focus on other people better than others. Maybe this is you? And yet, I can’t think of anyone that could not improve on their ability to focus on others with a more positive perspective. What do you need to do to improve your people focus? What is keeping you from doing something to improve in this area? Of course, you are fine the way you are. You don’t have to change, and then again, I am sure that you won’t suggest anyone change their ways if you won’t - that would be hypocritical, right?

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