Thursday, June 2, 2011

What are Your Pillars?

The Parthenon
Photo Credit:

Imagine the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena, or any big city courthouse.  Now, imagine it without pillars.  What’s left?  Before you wax too philosophical, I'll give you the answer: “A pile of rubble.”

Pillars are crucial, but they are also very easy to take for granted.  Their support is expected.  When you were building from the ground up, you had a great appreciation for those pillars, because they were the only things there.  Once you started building on top of them, however, you paid them less and less attention… they were supposed to be there and their job was to provide support.

Before I go on, I’m going to acknowledge something: This is not a new idea.  I will not win any awards for, “James' Original Pillar Theory.”  You’ve heard this before, told in such ways as, “Put in the big rocks first,” and, “Don’t forget the most important things in life.” (Cat Stevens even touched on it in his song, "Cat's in the Cradle")  I am revisiting this age-old topic for one reason… it deserves revisiting!  This is one of those famous moments of, “If you miss everything else, catch this!”

Take a quick inventory of the people, things, and entities in your life.  What is it that, if taken away, would cause you to crumble?  Now, look at that same list and honestly ask yourself how often you really devote quality, focused attention to those things.  If you are normal, you probably don't spend as much time with your pillars as you should. (keep in mind that "normal" is not a good thing... look at your neighbors, look at the news, look at our media, and you'll quickly find that "normal" is something to avoid)  After all, your pillars are there, supporting you… you can see to them another time and, besides, there are more pressing matters at hand.

If you ignore your pillars for more pressing matters, thinking that you can pay attention to them when you have more time, I will make you a 100%, certifiable, put-it-in-writing and take-it-to-the-bank guarantee: There will always be more pressing matters!!!  So, now that you know the guarantee, are you ready for the remedy?

First, you have to actively budget your focused attention.  Then, when you are budgeting your focused attention, budget for your pillars first and make that base amount of attention non-negotiable.  If there are more pressing matters, they will have to wait, because they are not allowed into that part of your life!

Non-negotiable.  No way.  No how.  No sir, YOU MAY NOT have this bit of my attention… it is spoken for!

My personal pillars are as follows:  God, my wife, and music.  Truth be told, I have been guilty of neglecting all three of these pillars.  They deserve better, and I will give it to them.  Without them, I would crumble.

What are your pillars?  Have you been giving them the focused attention they deserve?  If not, what are you going to do to remedy your situation?


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