I write, speak, invest, network, and question to stimulate fruitful conversation. Let's talk about human flourishing! It begins with freedom. Holy leisure is the key to human being, freedom and generativity. Please join me in the adventure of realizing Christ!
Cal Newport, in Deep Work cites A. G. Sertillanges, which is enough to recommend his book to me! Among Newport’s insights, are his observation that boredom is quite valuable for concentration training, that multitasking frays your capacity for forward attention, that we need to take internet ‘sabbaths,’ that we need large uninterrupted quantities of time for deep work, that rituals help minimize the ‘transition friction’ as we shift between tasks, that it’s helpful now and then to design a ‘Grand Gesture’ by which we invest a great deal in some particular accomplishment. Most surprising in an already interesting book is the proof that many who work in serious creative or intellectual work have established strict boundaries around the amount of time that can be stolen from ‘deep work’ by social media and email.
Newport highly recommends Clayton Christensen’s four disciplines of execution, having accomplished a lot of ‘executing’ as a young professor.
- Focus on the Wildly Important (none of my work seems ‘wildly important,’ but I do sit down periodically to assess which work seems most important, most loudly resonant with my heartbeat at the moment).
- Act on lead measures vs lag measures (In other words, measure the things that get the job done, rather than measure finished jobs. For me, this means count the number of chapters, not the number of finished books.) In this way, the measurement itself helps you get the jobs moved along, rather than just letting you carve a notch in your belt for each one.
- Use a visible scorecard for whatever you are measuring, so as to connect visually to the achievement of milestones. (Perhaps I should put up a daily weight graph for the next twenty pounds I need to lose.)
- Create a cadence of accountability (Get into the habit of regularly facing that scoreboard, making the next commitment, checking up on your forward progress.)
I’ve definitely ‘executed’ more since this book inspired me to honor my own ‘deep work’ by strengthening my get-it-done skills. I tend to avoid the ‘production’ side of writing, but once I have done the deep work of creating something, I need to ‘ship,’ as they say in business. I’ve taped the word EXECUTE to my computer as a reminder that this is a skill I’m aiming to improve.
Next, I’d like to think of some ‘grand gesture’ like his holing up in a ritzy hotel for a particular writing project. Hmmm…maybe I’ll just copy his! I’d need a Kickstarter campaign just to fund the gesture, so maybe not. Until then I’ll just hole up in my great home office and keep writing.
A complete digest of The Intellectual Life by Sertillanges is included in my new book, Upschooling.
Just so you’ll know, I don’t hate Facebook.
I just don’t have the energy to maintain a virtual presence there when my real presence still needs work.
Here are my 10 favorite Facebook usages:
- Asking the world to pray for unity in the Body of Christ on the 17th of each month, per Christ’s own prayer for this great good in John, Chapter 17.
- People on their way to adoration, asking for prayer requests and then really praying for each one before the Real Presence of Jesus Christ.
- Photos of amazing natural wonders and beautiful art images. Yes, add to the beauty my friends!
- Urgent prayer requests…finally a great reason to broadcast instead of to speak to folks individually. I may miss these requests, but I hold in my heart all the intentions of my friends and Facebook connections, so I’m not ignoring these!
- Catholic memes: good, clean fun. Thanks for sharing these!
- Songs that lift up your heart. They usually lift mine, too.
- Links to hopeful news items I might have missed.
- Reminders of what saint’s feast day this is, in case I didn’t know. I especially like the ones with a great quote.
- My blog posts magically link to my FB page and so I appreciate the boost that may give in readership.
- I love that FB will send me an email when someone mentions me, responds to a comment I’ve made, or has sent a message. I’ll miss something by dropping in only monthly, but not miss something meant for me, personally.
#4 Our participation in the life of the Trinity, our sonship, our identity as Christians is the source of our power to evangelize. Nothing new here, or anywhere in this, but a great reminder that to be better givers-away, we need to be more fully who we already are!
#11 Every opportunity for Scripture study should be made available, and the Scripture should permeate homilies, catechesis, and all our evangelization. Amen, amen! Our separated brethren in the Protestant churches will hear us more clearly if we speak ‘scripture,’ and put the lie to their sense that we don’t value the Bible.
#15, 16 Standing up for human rights, for the unborn, for religious freedom IS evangelization! We don’t have to take time away from all that to be contributing mightily to the New Evangelization. Perhaps we’ll add more scripture, more prayer, more loving-kindness to our methods, but rock on, ye who are fighting these fights!
#18 The most effective form of evangelization is the sharing of the testimony of life. How has your life in Christ moved you, changed you, helped you, challenged you, blessed you? TODAY??
#20 There should be a particular attention paid to the way of beauty. Beauty attracts us to love…In this light artists feel themselves privileged communicators of the New Evangelization. Can I hear a big whoop from writers and artists and poets and musicians out there??
#27 Education needs to promote everything that is true, good and beautiful. Is this happening at your school, boys and girls?
#34 Sunday needs to be recovered with its sacred and special character together with Sunday Mass, as the center of Catholic life. Souls at Rest, anyone??
#35 THE LITURGY OF THE CHURCH IS THE BEST SCHOOL OF THE FAITH. No more nun puppets, please Father!
#39 Pilgrimages to shrines and sanctuaries are an important aspect of the New Evangelization. Where shall we go? Who else wants to put up roadside shrines??
#45 The mission proper to lay faithful is the transformation of worldly structures. I love this! Let’s get busy!!! Life witness, works of charity and mercy, renewing the temporal order, and learning how to just flat proclaim what we believe….we can do this!!
# 52 The New Evangelization promotes ecumenical collaboration…in particular, the Church invites Christians to persevere and to intensify their relations with Muslims. Despite difficulties, this dialogue must continue. Sounds pretty clear to me….we can’t be part of the demonize-the-other-guy crowd, but must take the risk of identifying with him as a human being, and keeping a respectful dialogue going. Dialogue – it’s not just for ‘liberals’, but for anyone who wants to set people free: LIBERATORS!!
Well, we’ve got our work cut out for us!! I’d like to know what you think of all this, and what you’re consciously doing for the New Evangelization.
God bless everyone on the planet who is struggling to lose weight! This is hard enough without every magazine trumpeting some new way to do it fast. I like to think slow is better, in most cases, but I realize I have dilly-dallied on this important self-discipline o’er long. I have asked that God grant me the deepest possible healing and transformation along the way, even if it meant delay in the transformation of the ‘surface’ of my Self. Anyway, thanks for your prayers and I hope to add a final ‘after’ shot with Fr. Paul one of these days.
I’m beginning to think we need more conscious practice for being present to persons.
Though I know that you are a deep mystery and a unique, unrepeatable reality, you enter my space as an object in the environment and I often do not register your presence at all. This is a sad state of affairs, exacerbated by the speedy pace of life, the isolation of persons in cars and suburbs, the barely-there transactional symbology that counts as ‘communication,’ and other obvious factors of reality that I can’t change.
What can I change? What can I suggest to help along this ‘practice of the presence of persons’?
- Prayer before coming into the presence of others. “Dear God, please help me to be fully present to those I am about to encounter, to believe you have arranged for me to meet with the particular individuals who are present, to resist my own inward resistance to showing real heart hospitality to them, and to place my interest truly into the essence of who each person is and yearns to be. And Lord, please help me remember their names!” (I am so bad at this!) “Please bless our time together, help us to edify and encourage one another, and remain undistracted by other concerns during our visit. Please come into the space between us to unify us for your greater glory.”
- Courtesy. I think we should resurrect the courtesy of formal greeting and leave-taking. I’m trying to move into a “Grace and peace to you” format that I usually forget as greetings take a much more casual turn and the moment is lost. I love getting and giving good-bye hugs, but still stand there wondering if I’ll seem foolish, old-lady-ish, or overly personal if I lunge forward with a hug someone doesn’t want. Still, if you come to my Open House, please say hello on arriving and good-bye on leaving, please. And I’ll do the same when we all meet for book groups or meetings or whatever.
- Be affected. I need to do more than see you. To be present to you is to receive you into my own being and to be affected by you, there. I can’t be present to you without that opening that allows you entrance and makes me somewhat vulnerable to you. I hope I can look into your eyes and that you’ll see yourself loved in mine. I need to do more than hear you. You need to sound in me so that I resonate with you, mirror your movements and expressions, sense the meaning beneath the message on the surface. Just the other day, as I was listening to a friend and being deeply affected by him, one word he said in passing seemed to reverberate in me. I couldn’t shake the sense that this word held much more meaning for him and, as it turns out, it sure did! When I asked why that word was somehow very important or meaningful to him, out came the stories and the emotions elicited by them. It was fascinating to experience the reality that one word could ‘carry’ so much ‘weight’. He hadn’t realized it himself, but as we explored it together it was clear that God had helped my own heart be troubled with a message meant for his healing. What a delicate, lovely instrument the open, affect-able heart is!
Naturally, I am very much interested in your thoughts about how we can better practice the presence of persons. Please let me hear from you!