Life offers so many distractions. In the age of multi-tasking, it’s hard to find anyone willing to focus on anything exclusively for very long at all. When’s the last time you had an uninterrupted conversation with someone? When’s the last time you were able to give your full attention to any one thing. When’s the last time you composed a letter or blog post without stopping to check your email? (Guilty, and it was just a couple pieces of SPAM.) And yet, in spite of all the “increased productivity” and improved technology, I think somewhere deep down, we all admit that we would do at least a little bit better in life if we embraced a forgotten concept once called “focus.”

One Big Thing – Phil Cooke

Cooke isn’t specifically decrying multi-tasking or even the pursuit of multiple goals in life, but he does champion the notion of having one primary aim that is supported or enriched by any ancillary efforts. Our “One Big Thing” deserves our attention, despite the alluring siren call of other interests and activities. Too often, we find ourselves in roles and positions that limit our success because they’re not exactly our best chance for success. Cooke’s mantra (or one of them) is to pursue that one big thing that will result in you being the best in the world, whatever it is.

It’s a welcome message, contrary to the catcalls of those who worship at the throne of multi-tasking and a buckshot approach to achieving life’s goals. As I read through the book, I had a picture in my head of a buffet line with every type of food (mostly meat) you could hope for. You want to eat it all, but you’ll regret it if you do (really, you will). So you have to pick carefully which selections end up on your plate. I think many of us go through life with uninspiring results in careers we really don’t like because we refuse to eat steak instead of steak and chicken and hamburger and fish and ribs and everything else. We have a metaphorical stomach ache because we overdo it on activities trying to do it all. Our fear of missing out on that one thing, forces us to miss out on that one thing, fulfillment.

One Big Thing is a reminder that we need to identify and pursue our primary area of expertise, passion, and calling. Cooke also lays out some practical steps to help readers get through that process. As with Jolt!, Cooke writes in a casual tone, that is easy to read and offers first hand accounts from his personal and professional life. It’s enjoyable as far as business/self improvement books go and offers inspiration and worthwhile advice.

Greater – Steven Furtick

Taking things a step further, Steven Furtick, the founding pastor of Elevation Church, imparts his wisdom with a sermon series in book format. The gist: not only do you need to focus on your primary area of activity and passion, but first you need to sacrificially offer up your life to God’s calling. While this faith-based process isn’t easy, Furtick insists it is the only way to live a greater life. And yes, “greater” is different than “great”.

Greater draws on the stories of Elisha and other Biblical figures to provide a foundation for how our lives can become greater than we can conceive in our own minds. Furtick also weaves in stories from his own experiences as a pastor to further support his points. It certainly does feel like you’re reading a sermon as you progress through the book, but that’s fine because it adopts a pleasant tone and engages the reader on a personal level. It reads well and reminds us to follow wholeheartedly rather than to run our own lives stubbornly. Clearly, however, it’s primarily for a Christian audience and won’t branch out much beyond that “bubble”.

To summarize the book. Dream big. Start Small. Persist. Follow God. I think that about covers it.

peace… love… bdg…