Why struggle for many tiny fish in the shallow Waters, when you can catch a bigger and more valuable fish with one deep dive into the deeper waters?
Jesus is teaching on the shores of lake Gennesaret where Simon peter and his friends have toiled the whole night trying to catch fish with no success. He asks to use their boat to preach to the crowd, and then asks Peter to cast his net deeper but Peter is hesitant trying to argue that they have toiled all night. Upon obedience, they make the biggest ever catch that they need help to pull out the net and they’re amazed at the size of the catch that threatens to sink their two ship. Reading Cal Newport’s book Deep Work, reminded me of this contrast of the results of toiling in the shallow waters with no significant catch as opposed to amazing results of casting into deeper waters for a bigger and better catch. Newport shows us the more excellent way of creating impact by doing a deep work in a distracted world that we live in rather than be lost in the futile Busyness of doing shallow work in mediocrity. He decries the shallow workers that is become most of the knowledge workers who have fallen into the trap of distraction from the social media and infortainment of our day. Newport works with:
The Deep Work hypothesis: The Ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.
I must admit that in many ways that I have been a victim of distraction by the social media and infortainment sites at the expense of doing a more excellent job or spending quality time with my family. Newport’s book is itself evidence of a deep work as it points out a big problem that we have to deal with in our places of work and the world around us. There is a lot to learn just like his other book Digital Minimalism that tackles our fraught relationship with technology in a noisy world. It is so clear that deep work as Newport demonstrates in this book that its VALUABLE in the changing economy and the time for doing the same thing over and over for 40 years until you retire are over, he makes a case for learning quickly and producing at an elite level. He also argues that deep work is RARE showing us how distractions are becoming more and more common for knowledge workers and that focus is becoming more and more rare. Finally Newport shows us why deep work is meaningful because you should look for a job that you love so much to want to do a real deep work. He also tells us how to implement deep work into your daily life with four rules: using different strategies of integrating deep work depending on the kind of work you do; embracing boredom to improve your ability to focus and eliminating your desire for distraction; avoiding or limiting your usage of the social media and infortainment sites; and, draining or going through a process of eliminating as much a possible the shallow work from our daily schedule. Reading through this book, I must say was both challenging but also liberating in knowing that there is a way to be more productive by creating discipline for deep work. We are so much preoccupied by the use of technology that has been seen as a game changer in the way we do things but can also be a big distraction from doing a great work. As leaders we have a responsibility to optimize the use of resources and opportunity and guard against the misuse of the same resources. Its insightful to realize how such a great resource like technological advancement can also be a trap and detriment to our success if not used with discernment and the right discretion.
As I research on financial literacy, I am challenged by the deep work that Cal Newport has done to produce such a great work. It challenges me to use the same approach to do a deep work in my research in bringing forth a great work that will impact many Christians that are living in vulnerable communities. It’s a challenge to our leadership to be more intentional and be responsible stewards to optimize opportunities that God has given us to serve him and the people that He has entrusted to us to lead.
 Bible. NIV. Luke 5:1-7.
 Cal Newport (2016). Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. Piatkus, London. UK.
 Ibid……., pg 14
 Cal Newport. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Portfolio. London. February 5, 2019.
3 responses to “Why struggle for many tiny fish in the shallow Waters, when you can catch a bigger and more valuable fish with one deep dive into the deeper waters?”
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Thanks for your post Wallace. I appreciate you drawing out the importance of doing work that we love. How big a role do you think that plays in doing deep work? When I think of the work I’ve done over the years, I recognize that some I can barely keep myself from doing ‘deep work’ because I love it so much! But there has been other work that I’m not even sure I could find a ‘deep’ version of. Are we limited to developing the capacity to do deep work in fields we are passionate about?
Thank you Jenn, I believe doing what you love makes it easier to do a deep work but doing a deep work seems to be as born out of a commitment and discipline, and not guaranteed by doing what you love. I contend that if you commit yourself to a discipline of doing a “Deep Work”, you can even extend it to things that you do not necessarily love, to me excellence is a habit that has to be developed.
Thank you so much Jenn, I believe that we’re more passionate about what we love and that is what we can thrive at. It’s easier to put in more effort and keenness in what we love and the knowledge and ability to do deep work would naturally fit into the equation.
I believe a good concept with universal application which should be exposed to all the people we want and have leverage to develop and not limited just to what we’re passionate about. I believe equipping leaders and potential leaders with all the knowledge and skills God has entrusted with us, is our stewardship responsibility as leaders.