Friday, June 22, 2007

Focus - Action Connection

Finding and keeping a focus is difficult even for those of us without ADD. That's the reason most good reference works describe their scope (focus) and most research articles provide a purpose statement. It's really easy in the everyday life of libraries with many different people involved in the business of the library to lose the focus of the library. Here, we have so many actions occurring with library move that it's hard to remember we still have a student body working on papers.

This time of year is a good time to check the focus lens (mission statement) against the actual actions or lack thereof. Consider this short essay from Mikey's Funnies ( I am posting the entire essay as it comes via e-mail and doesn't have a permalink.)

By Dr. Michael A. Halleen"
Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 'Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?'" (John 6:8, 9)In Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn," Huck and his good friend, Tom Sawyer, are plotting to free old Jim, a runaway slave Tom's uncle has imprisoned in a cabin. Tom makes a long list of all the equipment they will need for the rescue. The plan is discussed, reviewed and redone, becoming more and more elaborate. It might take years, the boys agree, to pull it off, but when they do, it will surely be one of the great rescues in history. Meanwhile, Jim lies chained to his bunk in a dark cabin, with no food or water. He has become only a prop in Tom's wonderful plan. Details of the rescue operation have become more important than its goal.

Details got in Andrew's way when he found a young person willing to share his lunch with others. The disciples had been stymied by the problem of what to do about growling stomachs in the big crowd that had come to their meeting. They could not just run to town for Happy Meals or send out for pizza. A boy had volunteered his help, but what he offered seemed so inadequate. "How far can THIS go?" Andrew wondered. As in the story of Tom and Huck, concern for a perfect solution kept well-meaning people from doing anything.

I worked with a man who refused a 25-cent an hour raise because he wanted a dollar. He accomplished nothing. I had a client who spent half his day paralyzed by the fifty emails waiting for him every morning. Which ones to answer? Forward? Delete? The size of the task caused him to lose sight of his purpose. A woman in my office admitted to being so ashamed at the realization that she had not lived up to her potential that she spent hours each day making lists of what she ought to have done. Each day, each list, just added to her sense of failure.

What matters is to keep one's eyes on the goal and to take those steps — even one or two small ones — that are possible today to move toward it. It is not necessary to have everything at hand in order to make progress. If you must feed 5,000 hungry souls, start with the one who offers to help. More will be done through that one than through a thousand others who throw up their hands in despair.

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