I recently came across a fascinating article about Thomas Edison. My wife actually found and and forwarded it to me. The article contained a quote from Edison that seemed like something I would say.

I have got so much to do and life is so short, I am going to hustle.

I can totally relate. I think “busy” is wired into my DNA. There is just so much that I need to do and there are so many things that I want to do. Thomas Edison, I’m totally with you on this one.

The article covers several different aspects of Thomas Edison, especially his odd sleeping routine. However, there was one quote from Edison that is significant. I think that some people totally get this and other people don’t. There’s a principle here that leaders need to understand if they truly want to see success in what they do. In an interview, Edison was asked:

“You lay down rather severe rules for one who wishes to succeed in life, working eighteen hours a day.”

Edison responded:

“Not at all,” he said. “You do something all day long, don’t you? Every one does. If you get up at seven o’clock and go to bed at eleven, you have put in sixteen good hours, and it is certain with most men, that they have been doing something all the time. They have been either walking, or reading, or writing, or thinking. The only trouble is that they do it about a great many things and I do it about one. If they took the time in question and applied it in one direction, to one object, they would succeed. Success is sure to follow such application. The trouble lies in the fact that people do not have an object, one thing, to which they stick, letting all else go. Success is the product of the severest kind of mental and physical application.”

There’s something to be said for focused persistence. Last May at a leadership offsite, I committed to a bold goal. The goal was to double the number of volunteers in our kids and student ministry in the next calendar year. This meant we needed to change many things about how we recruit, train and care for volunteers. However, it has been a persistent focus for my team (and even more for me) for the past 9 months. Currently, we’ve seen a 63% increase. We have a very big volunteer campaign scheduled for May and I’m really believing to finish processing and on boarding all our new volunteers by July and actually see a total increase of 135%.

What has made the difference for us in this one area? Focus! Evaluating where we are, who is in the pipeline and what we’re doing next concerning recruiting has been a weekly conversation. It’s not been easy, but it’s not been nearly as challenging as one would expect either. It’s just required our focus.

In light of Edison’s quote, I’ll ask you a few questions:

  1. Do you have an object, one thing, that gets more of your attention than everything else when it comes to your work?
  2. What about with your family? Are you chasing after one thing? What is your family focused on?
  3. What do you need to stop doing in order to truly see success?