About a year ago, my entire focus was on … focus. I was doing everything in my extremely limited power to narrow my vision, tighten my circle, remove distractions (including, but not limited to, several people in my life).
In the aftermath of a very real “come to Jesus” moment (during which I almost did), I came to several conclusions, all set to the convenient theme of a Fitbit® activity tracker:
For almost nine months, I split my time and energy between finding out what went wrong, trying to get better, and achieving that aforementioned “focus.” At work, I transitioned from the go-to guy for, well, everything, to a master of delegation. Outside the office, I severed relationships and severely curtailed activities that I deemed “distracting” from my primary purpose. Which, somewhat ironically, was to define my primary purpose.
It’s taken me almost a year, and a series of phenomenal experiences (many of which I have yet to chronicle!), to realize two things. First, that my original premise – that if our steps are numbered, then each one should count – is, in fact a fundamental truth. Second, my efforts to realize that truth were deeply flawed.
While I was spending my time and energy focusing inward (whining, really), I was missing out on opportunity after opportunity to matter.
Oh, not on a global scale. Certainly not in a way that most folks would remember even five seconds from now.
I’m talking about really mattering – at a personal, private level that nobody else will ever see.
Mattering to somebody is probably more important than mattering to everybody. Making a difference in someone’s life – even if it’s just being there for them when they need you – well, I’ve come to realize that this single step counts for so much more than 10,000 steps in any other direction.
Honestly, I can’t say that I’ve made much of a difference, even where I’ve tried to. I can at least say that I’ve tried to. But there’s no real way to know. Mattering – really mattering – is pretty much in the eye of the beholder. And someone who needs you on that level is probably not in a place where providing feedback, um, matters.
Look, trying to score imaginary points on an imaginary Matter Meter is a waste of time. If that’s why you do it, I assure you that your efforts won’t count for much in the long run.
My focus was, well, out of focus. For too long. It took a while, and way too many steps in the wrong direction, but I think I’m starting to get on track. I can’t say every step counts. I can’t say every moment matters. I don’t think I ever will. But that doesn’t make the goal less worthwhile.
It’s not the destination, not really. In this case, at least, it really is how you get there.