To Focus on Everything is to Focus on Nothing

Feb 23, 2017, Written by Jim Miley


We often have difficulty when trying to put a clear definition to our mission.  Whether in our faith, our personal objectives or our business, it is common to wander off course.  All too often the reason we wander is lack of focus on a specific mission.

Putting faith first (where I believe it belongs), you might expect my mission to be a finely-ground, razor’s edge of focus.  I pray for the Holy Spirit’s leading and revelation of my higher calling; yet, each month I also wrestle with indecision over my investment of time and resources to global missions, inner-city ministry, worship team, small group leadership, vocational training ministries, etc…

My New Year’s resolution to include a recreational sport on my calendar for 2017 is ready to take root.  The local health club offers everything I want: tennis, basketball, volleyball, softball, power lifting and even Taekwondo.  Boom!  This is going to be one heck of a recreational year.

Consider a residential building contractor capable of building a broad array of structures: affordable single-family homes, custom high-end estates, multi-unit condominiums.  There will be a large overlap in the tools and resources to build each of the projects and there may be a fair profit in every job when viewed individually.

Back to faith… we just can’t do it all.  The Apostle Paul’s mission was distinct from the original twelve.  The unfurling of the Gospel was an intricate process including many distinct missions.  Jesus’ fulfilling the prophesies and sacrificial baring of our sin. The Disciples’ witness. Organization and teaching. The Apostle Paul’s miraculous conversion and evangelizing of the Gentiles.

Paul knew his mission was to carry the Gospel message beyond his core community of Jews and out to the Gentiles.  While Jesus’ ministry in the flesh only covered a radius (of a few hundred miles in primarily Jewish communities), Paul’s mission crossed oceans, cultures, languages and continents.  While Paul was super-qualified to work within his native communities of Jews, he followed the mission plan of expanding into the Gentile nations.  To remain focused upon the Jews would have limited Paul’s work that resulted in nearly half of the New Testament writing.

Where is Your Focus?

The whole of our lives is full of broad options and choices: in our faith, in our home lives, in our work.

Trying to focus on every option that appeals to us, even with good reason, is to focus on nothing. 

We often find it difficult to make progress toward our goals with obstacles emerging at every turn… focus.

Devote serious time to prayer, meditation and counsel for defining your missions in each area of your life.

Pray upon how God wants to use you and your talents or lack of talent.  Sometimes God may move us to refinement through struggle in areas where we are not so strong, like Paul having to teach in places where they did not recognize him nor his credentials.

Be optimistic with your personal goals, but also be realistic.  Make plans that allow you to progress.  Want to run a marathon?  Start with fast-walking a mile or two.  Join a tennis league? Commit to 4 weekly lessons first and tell the coach of your league plans.  Define your mission and set your course to successfully complete it. 

So, as this is my business blog, back to the business.

What is Your Mission?

It is unlikely that your business can successfully focus on all potential opportunities.  You must make choices and hone your mission so focus areas are just that: focused, emphasized, priority.

Follow this basic example.  A residential builder will most often optimize their brand and market opportunity by being recognized as really good at something.  Define your focus and build it Let’s target high-end, custom homes.  You can now build your capabilities, brand, marketing and book of business to excel.  You will better define the subs needed for your target projects.  Marketing will be more effective with clear messaging and points of difference.  Quality will rise with more experience.  Referrals will increase with increased quality and satisfied clients.

In contrast, the subs you may prefer for a multi-family condo development will likely be different than those for high-end custom homes.  Your marketing for both developers and home buyers will be different.  Your experience is now diffused across different types of projects.  You can effectively build either multi-family or high-end custom homes, but you don’t have a reputation for excelling at either. “Jack of all trades, master of none.” 

All businesses need to address this critical question of mission.

Clarity and definition in your mission will translate to your operation.  Lack of focus in your mission will often produce lack of focus in your operation and business execution.  Start with a strong Mission that is clear and remain committed to it until you are ready to put serious planning around changing it.

Is your mission clearly focused and well-defined?

Define your mission sufficiently that your energy is focused to the point of effective…  focused to the point of effective at successfully achieving the mission. 

Reader Interactions


  1. Terry Phong says

    Thank you so much Jim for Your awesome faith and willingness to put God first in your life and business. The work you guys do at CrossRoads is such a blessing to me as I’m sure to many others as well. The wisdom, help, and advice you offer through both your blog and services is truly a “godsent”. Thank you so much again for inspiring and motivating so many of us small business owners who so dearly need to hear your message. God bless!

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Jim Miley

As a Business Coach, Jim brings a broad background of operational and sales management skills and expertise to help small business owners grow their business and reach their highest potential. He has 30 years of field-proven professional experience.

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