People-Oriented versus Goal-Oriented

goalMy mom and I sat at the table eating lunch. She began talking about one of her friends. Disinterested, I asked why she was telling me. As the words tumbled out of my mouth,

I wished I could take them back. She frowned. She tried to explain.  I stopped her.

See, I’m a goal-oriented person, deadlines, results and timelines. How can I help you propel your dreams, and how can you help me? If you’re not in that sphere, I’m disinterested. How much can we produce? What do we plan to achieve? Otherwise gabbing about others is gossip. As the adage goes: “If you aren’t part of the problem or the solution, its gossip.”  Proverbs indicates, “whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps things covered. Do not associate with a simple babbler” (11:13, 20:19).

Now, my mother was neither slandering nor revealing secrets, simply prattling; concerned about this person, and sharing her distress, which I knew would later disclose something I cared not to hear. She’s people-oriented, creating social and emotional ties.

God is still working on me.

I explained: “As a goal-oriented person, personal matters are not usually my concern. What is the task at hand? I focus on the goal.”

God is still working on me.

As an instructor, my aim is to lecture, encourage, coach students in rhetoric and composition. I don’t have time for excuses—my printer doesn’t have ink, Internet was down, I broke up with my girlfriend, I’m overwhelmed with other classes. My concern: when can you hand in your assignment? How can you improve your writing? I don’t give busy work every task is a building block.  It’s about production and achievement.

God is still working on me.

My heart belongs to a man that’s taking way too long to put a ring on finger. When we talk, I prefer discuss: how much money have you saved towards my ring; if we live as one, where is relocation. I want dates and schedules, what is your plan not speculation or hesitation. God is still working on me.

I realize God is still working on me because I’m learning to create friendly relations and more concern for people. Perhaps, that is why I was chosen for a few titled positions requiring human interaction, opening channels of commutation, loving others through their distress, and working with the oppressed. Only God knows how to mold and shape me. Knowing I’m goal-oriented I have to remember: We should make plans – counting on God to direct us (Proverbs 16:9).

The student: Ms. Hooks, can I speak to you about why I didn’t finish my paper?

I shake my head no.

The student: I’m not looking for sympathy.

I shake my head no, again.

Class ends, he approaches my desk. I look at him.

The student: I broke up with my girlfriend this weekend and couldn’t concentrate.

I shake my head, saying Adele the singer, recorded hit songs when relationships ended badly. Use your break up as your muse; finish the essay.

God is still working on me.

A Time to Plan, A Time to Harvest

The moment I hit the send button, I knew I’d fallen off the wagon; the wagon of planning and harvesting. Last week I sent out the same blog, “Move On, So God Can Use You” twice. I knew that it had been posted, but when I noticed it in the draft box of WordPress, I thought oops, I didn’t hit send. Yet, I had.

Then I realized I had not implemented or followed through with the advice I’d gathered over the last few months, if so I wouldn’t have skipped a week of posting or sent the same post twice. Proverbs 11:14 indicates that without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances (The Message). And I try to seek good counsel that helps me continuously sharpen my saw, such as creating an18-month plan to pursue my career goals.

In Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, she suggests making an 18-month plan for your workplace goals. But I don’t have a permanent workplace, so my new skill as a writer, speaker, and adjunct lecturer is applying for grants, fellowships, and residencies. Nick Flynn, author of The Ticking is the Bomb, also recommended I apply to and accept as many invitations as possible.

This new skill requires planning and research. When I begin to research, I’m consumed. This can be good and bad. The good part: being invested in the project. The bad part: forgetting my other responsibilities and deadlines. In order to stay focused, I started, but did not complete, an editorial calendar for angchronicles, suggested by Michael Nichols’s grow on purpose. He suggests creating an editorial calendar to write consistently and regularly. If I’d followed through, I would not have sent that blog twice—can you tell I’m annoyed? More than annoyed, I’m convicted, according to Proverbs 15:22 “refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed.” I failed to set up an editorial calendar, and for the last few blog posts I’ve stayed up all night writing it. Ugh.

Another useful harvesting tool, I’ve acquired, but haven’t put into action is changing my writing habit. In Writer Unboxed it is suggested that if you are a slow writer, I am, then write drafts faster. For me this is not so easy. But to gather more crops, I have to speed up.

I’m planning to harvest advice, so my crops will be fruitful and ripe, not repetitive and stale. 

Do you have some helpful advice?

Today’s Prayer:

Father, Send us wise counsel, teach us to listen, and remain diligent as we plan, fail, plan, succeed, fail, and plan some more.