"Come on you guys, you want to succeed in your careers and in business it's all about the 'F' word," I remember Walter Benson, my 48-year-old-board member of the charity I was running, saying, standing in front the class dressed as if he had walked out of an L.L.Bean catalog -- beige pants, navy jacket and a blue-and-crème-striped sailor sweater. After hearing just ten minutes of my lesson plan on time management, Walter had walked to the front of the classroom and grabbed a piece of chalk.
"You know, the 'F' word," he repeated loudly, to the class of about 20 teenagers I was teaching at a summer entrepreneurship BizCamp for NFTE at both Howard and Georgetown University. "Do I need to write it on the board?"
This was a tense moment. I wondered if Walter had missed taking some of his medication as he had been diagnosed a few years prior with brain cancer. He was one of my most dedicated and hilarious board members as well as an accomplished entrepreneur and professor at Georgetown University.
Walter basically grabbed the chalk right out of my hand and wrote an "F" on the board, left a space, and then wrote a "C."
The eyes of one of my favorite students 16-year-old Daryn Dodson, sitting in the front row, opened wide with amazement. My hands started to move toward Walter's arm, to pull him out of the classroom.
"Now there is a 'U' in there, right?" he continued.
I wrapped my hands around Walter's bicep and was about to yank when he wrote the "U" after the "C," adding an "O" and an "S" to finish his handiwork.
"F-O-C-U-S!" he shouted to the class. "You've got to focus if you want to be successful in business and life to be successful -- that's the key!"
My hands dropped as the class erupted with laughter. I smiled in relief.
Wally was right and I think of that moment a lot. I miss him.
Yesterday I shared the "F"-word story when I spoke to the Career Network Ministry group at the McLean Bible Church and in retrospect, perhaps they should have thrown me out for choosing that particular business story in my session. There were 150 attendees who are mainly jobseekers and high-level volunteers meeting to discuss networking, resume writing, using LinkedIn, doing elevator speeches and mock interviews. This group meets weekly and is incredibly impressive and focused.
I discussed with the group that there are glass balls and rubber balls in life that we juggle and that we need to differentiate between the two. You really don't want to drop a glass ball in life. For many glass balls were getting a job, family, spirituality and health. We also have to determine which rubber balls can be dropped for a day or a week. Like laundry!
It was recently shared with me by a mentor that the difference between stress and pressure is that stress is when you don't have a plan. So to be less stressed, one needs to focus and create an action plan.
Here is a quick exercise I did with the group last night to think for yourself how you can focus on your glass balls of life and move stress into more healthy pressure.
Pull out a pen or pencil:
- The 'Glass Balls' of My Life Are...
- One Glass Ball Project/Goal That Matters Now? (Try to be specific)
- Few Rubber Balls That Can Wait
- My FOCUS
Three Action Steps I will Take This Week? (Try to be as specific as possible)
Can I Enlist an Accountability Partner to Help Me Succeed? Phone/Email
Julie Kantor is Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Barrel of Jobs a new startup crowdsourcing jobs and enabling people to help their friends get jobs. She writes weekly on career, job search, startups for Huffington Post Business. Http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-kantor