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.