Define your Objective; but Remember to Focus on it

by Dr Oyedele Ola

When you give a lot of attention to a particular thing, a subject of interest or a person, you are said to be focused. To “focus” also means to concentrate or to centre your interest on something. One of the factors for landing a successful career is to have a distinct and clear career objective and to maintain an unwavering focus on it. It is not enough to formulate a big career objective, ambition or dream. The dreamer also has to focus diligently on the end-in-view in order to actualize the objective. In the game of table tennis (or ping pong), you must concentrate on the ball as it goes back and forth on the table. Failure to focus on the ball could result in a miss. Focussing on the ball is important for the player to be able to correctly hit the ball with the racket and get it to the desired destination on the opponent’s side of the table. In fact most games involving opponent individuals or teams require focussing to significant degrees, in order to gain advantage and limit the opponent’s options. In a similar way, focussing on the expected end makes the difference between success and failure in various aspects of life.

A lot of Christian professionals “wish” or “expect” success in their careers, but lack focus on any definite objective. Perhaps, they think that prayer and acts of Christian service alone can substitute for the principles that govern career success. Yes, God really does bless the works of our hands and He is interested in giving us career prosperity. However, we need to position ourselves for his blessings by showing diligence, hardwork and commitment to our course. Being a Christian should not, in any way, relegate anyone that professes to be so called to being a mediocre or to accepting little or no progress as fate. One of the greatest problems I have found with many educated individuals, especially fresh university graduates, is that, while a limited few pursue their career objective/ambition diligently, majority simply accept any job that comes their way, whether by chance or by luck. This is mostly common in many of the third-world countries, where the struggle for survival outweighs the desire for excellence and self-actualization. In my personal opinion, a satisfying and successful career would require a diligent and dogged focus on a definite career objective.

Permit me to share my personal career experience with you. Several years ago after I have decided to complete a bachelor’s program in engineering physics, I needed to decide on a career path. I was just in the second year of my undergraduate degree program at that time. I decided to seek and understand the various career options available to someone with a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics. In my search for useful information, I discovered that most of my undergraduate courses would focus on materials science and engineering. In addition, I got to know that several graduates of the program were at the fore front of ground-breaking materials engineering careers in different parts of the world. I was also constantly in contact with senior colleagues and professors with significant experience in the application of materials engineering principles. Before my graduation, I had already decided for a career in materials engineering, with the objective of acquiring practical knowledge and training that would enable me to take a frontline position in materials engineering research. Since that time, I have been directing (focusing) the best of my resources and ability toward fulfilling my career objective. Sustaining my interest by focussing on the objective assisted me to ascend to leadership as a research engineer in the field of materials engineering.

Among the career problems being faced by several individuals, the problem of lack of focus is just one. However, in my attempt to classify individuals according to their disposition to “focus”, I realized that there are actually four different categories of people. The first category is those who lack focus. These individuals don’t usually have any career objective. Therefore, there is nothing to focus on. They just accept life as it comes. Those who lack focus usually settle for the least. They have no drive for achieving more, as long as they have enough to get life going. They just watch everything as it all happens around them. In most cases, they go to school because others are in school. Their approach to life is simplistic and does not demand them to contribute anything significant to personal or community development.

The second category of people is those who lost focus. These individuals actually had career ambitions, but lost focus on their objective before they could be realized. Several people start out with an objective for their career. Unfortunately, the objective could not be realized due to distractions, loss of interest, unforeseen circumstances or the unachievable nature of the objective. For some, it is just a matter of settling for less because it may actually cost more to fulfil their career objective than it will cost to settle for less.

The third category of people is those with “dilly-dally focuses”. Individuals with dilly-dally focuses don’t actually focus on anything. Their career objective, hence career focus, changes per opportunity. They are moved only by what is “selling” out there. Yesterday they were bankers, today they are engineers and tomorrow they may be plumbers. They can be called “jack of all trades, master of none”. I have personally had the opportunity to review resumes of several job-seekers. I noticed that many of the resumes did not indicate any career focus or objective. This is always a problem for many employers as they are unable to rightfully place the skills and experience of the applicant and are somewhat confused as to whether they are primarily skilled in what they have applied for or are more skilled in something else. Those with dilly-dally focusses end up achieving nothing and, in most cases, don’t have much to show for several years of hard labour.

The fourth category of people and, of course, the last is those who have focus. These people centre their interest in certain objectives and do not waver from achieving what they have determined to pursue. Those who have focus usually understand their own strengths and weaknesses and are usually able to overcome obstacles. They are tenacious, diligent, unrelenting, hardworking, dedicated and are willing to pay the price for achieving a worthwhile course.

In conclusion, if you desire great success in your career, then you may have to dream a worthwhile and achievable dream. But…………, remember to diligently focus on the expected end.

(c) 2013. Oyedele Ola PhD

About the Author:

Oyedele completed his undergraduate degree in Engineering Physics from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria and his graduate degrees in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Manitoba, Canada. Oyedele currently works as a research engineer with the Center for Aerospace Technology and Training at the Red River College in Winnipeg, Canada. He enjoys traveling, making friends and public speaking. During personal quiet periods, he enjoys bible study.

 

 

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Posted in July 2013 | Leave a comment

Wisdom Tips for Career Sucess: Musings from the Book of Proverbs

David, the greatest King of Israel, once advised his son to pursue Wisdom above everything else. He claimed “Wisdom is the principal thing, in all thy getting’s, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). While we often equate wisdom with educational achievement, the continuous evolution of the dynamics in the work place has shown that professional success is increasing de-emphasizing on educational degrees or technical skills. Instead, there is more emphasis on soft skills, such as people management, goal setting, and problem-solving attributes. Today, I want to point your attention to a wisdom arsenal for Christian professionals. The book of Proverbs is full of several instructions for success for many of us. Here are some relevant wisdom nuggets for career success!

1.  Your imagination is key to your success….guard it with all diligence!

Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts (Proverbs 4:22)

 

 2.  Your marriage is your biggest asset on your way up….don’t take it for granted!

Enjoy the wife you married as a young man! Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose— don’t ever quit taking delight in her body. Never take her love for granted! Why would you trade enduring intimacies for cheap thrills with a whore? (Proverbs 5: 18 – 20)

3.  Associate with wise and resourceful people

Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces (Proverbs 13: 20).

4.  Avoid distractions…….stay focused on your vision!

Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you (Proverbs 4: 24 – 27)

 

  5.  Don’t entertain laziness…..it has destroyed countless promising careers

So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest! (Proverbs 6: 9- 11)

 

6.  Think well before signing that contract……your word is your bond!

Dear friend, if you’ve gone into hock with your neighbor or locked yourself into a deal with a stranger, If you’ve impulsively promised the shirt off your back and now find yourself shivering out in the cold, Friend, don’t waste a minute, get yourself out of that mess. You’re in that man’s clutches! Go, put on a long face; act desperate. Don’t procrastinate— there’s no time to lose (Proverbs 6: 1-3)

 

7.  Trust the Lord with your decisions……..He will surely guide you into the right path

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track (Proverbs 3: 5)

 

8. Your mouth sets the course of your life………..choose your words wisely

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose (Proverbs 18:21).

  

9. Your integrity speaks volume about you……..every employer searches for this attribute!

Leaders who know their business and care keep a sharp eye out for the shoddy and cheap. For who among us can be trusted to be always diligent and honest? (Proverb 20: 8 – 9)

God bless you all. 

Posted in July 2013 | 2 Comments

The Tale of Two Prostitutes and their Babies

One of my favorite sections of the old testament is the history of the kings of Israel.  In the past few weeks, I have had to revisit the story of King Solomon, the wisest king in Israel. As I meditated on his life, his wisdom, and kingdom, I could not but focus on the saga between two prostitutes who came to king Solomon for judgement. The story can be found in 1Kings 3: 16-21. Even though this story demonstrated God’s wisdom in Solomon, I believe there is a lesson here for every Christian professional to learn. As I read through this story, it became very clear to me that both women were fond of sleeping. One slept so much till she rolled over her baby and killed him. The other woman was too deep in her sleep that she did not know when her baby was stolen. One outstandingly critical issue here for both women is carelessness. While sleep is good and refreshing, a night of carelessness through deep sleep destroyed a future (baby died), scattered a friendship, and made a fool of both of them nationally!. As I ruminated on some of the common pitfalls that has trapped and destroyed great careers, I realized that carelessness is the common problem underlying many of these problems. History and the media are littered with several examples of great individuals with great careers, but were brought down by a moment of carelessness and indiscretion. Several years of hard work, faithfulness, and sacrifice have been wasted through short moments of carelessness and lack of proper management of some habits. For these women, one night of carelessness ruined the travails of the 9 months of pregnancy and labor pain during delivery. For you, it might be that incessant problem with punctuality , poor time management, a little moment of angry outburst on that nagging colleague, procrastination, lack attention to details, a short flirt with that colleague, backbiting, financial recklessness, garrulousness, congeniality, excessive internet surfing (FB inclusive!), unprofessional text messaging in professional meetings, and many more. Even though these destiny-damaging habits might appear insignificant or harmless, they can wreck your career and future. As a matter of fact, human resource professionals are increasingly placing more emphasis on behavioral attributes and other soft skills rather than technical skills. A recent report in one of the American dailies suggested that employers are increasingly mining data from social media (e.g., Facebook) to understand behavioral tendencies about potential employees (lesson: don’t be careless on social   media!). It is important for you to pay close attention to those little habits and attitudes that may affect your future.

The woman whose baby was stolen is equally as guilty of carelessness as the woman who stole the baby. Success or failure in life is not always about your decisions or actions, but sometimes about our indecisions or inactions. Even though this second woman succeeded in getting her child back (thanks to God’s Wisdom in Solomon!), her life illustrated the consequences of carelessness. Had it been she was consciously guarding her baby, the other woman would not have succeeded in giving her a dead child. She would have avoided all the arguments that ensued afterwards, ranging from arguments in her neighborhood, to the appeal court in her province, till her case gained national attention and was brought to the King. One night of carelessness in not guarding what God’s gift caused her untold handrdships, striving, tears, and many other challenges. Even though your career is not blossoming yet, guard it with all diligence. Even though, no one appreciates you for the job well done, guard your integrity with all diligence. Guard your marriage, your faith, your children, your ministry, talent, and everything the Lord has committed into your hands. A moment of carelessness can destroy everything you have worked for in life. Dear friends, I urge you to be on guard and deal with these little attitudes and habits today. If possible, seek professional and spiritual help to deal with them. God bless you.

Posted in July 2013 | Leave a comment