Cal Newport, best-selling author and professor at Georgetown University challenges his readers to understand their goals, their purpose, their worth and the value of their time. He plunges them into a world of intelligent thought, cognitive disciplines and personal boundaries, and challenges them to become introspective before creating influence. The author responds to the busyness of society by creating resources that give leaders permission to disengage from their chaotic monotony and find space for deep work. According to the author, “Deep work is at a severe disadvantage in a technopoly because it builds on values like quality, craftsmanship, and mastery that are decidedly old-fashioned and nontechnological.” In most cases, productivity is valued above personal health. However, Cal Newport would argue that one cannot be productive without having personal moments of reflection, isolation and meditation.
The author asserts that, “To remain valuable in our economy, therefore, you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things. This task requires deep work. If you don’t cultivate this ability, you’re likely to fall behind as technology advances.” In regard to social media and technology, the author believes that we should implement The Craftsman Approach to Tool Selection. Therefore, we should,“Identify the core factors that determine success and happiness in your professional and personal life. Adopt a tool only if its positive impacts on these factors substantially outweigh its negative impacts.” Newport encourages readers to utilize technology from the stance of addition, not addiction.
He also gives credence to removing social platforms from one’s life for short periods of time; however, this type of intermittent cold-turkey concept is not necessary if one understands healthy delegation. Deep work is not simply the result of voiding oneself of distraction but questioning one’s use of allocation.
Newport asserts that:
A blog or magazine or television program that contained the content that typically populates a Facebook wall or Twitter feed, for example, would attract, on average, no audience. But when captured within the social conventions of these services, that same content will attract attention in the form of likes and comments. The implicit agreement motivating this behavior is that in return for receiving (for the most part, undeserved) attention from your friends and followers, you’ll return the favor by lavishing (similarly undeserved) attention on them.
The author delves into the surface-oriented interaction of social relationships; however, his assessment resembles a cynical diatribe more than an evidential perspective. Yes, social media can be used poorly and create an unrealistic schism, but it can also be used to create spaces of community. According to a recent article in Christianity Today, “If churches truly want to see the Gospel impact and influence a community, they should go to the place where the most significant conversation is actually taking place right now. Today, that’s on social media.” Online influence is imperative for organizational impact and growth; however, organizational management must stem from personal management. This is why it is imperative to create specific space in one’s schedule for personal reflection and deep work. This can occur through the use of social media automated tools, delegation of staff or creating specific times for online interaction.
When I first read Newport, my perspective was vastly different than it is now. I was disconnected from his ideas and abhorred his limitation of social media. I clung onto The Any-Benefit Approach to Network Tool Selection because I was a solopreneur. Three years ago, I was wearing ten-thousand hats daily and just trying to keep my head above water. These past few years have given me a new perspective and a better appreciation of carving time in my schedule for deep work.
As I pursued the text and read it with new eyes, I saw varied ways of implementation. LOUD Summit is expanding at an astronomical rate, which is why deep work and deep thought are imperative during this time. I’ve learned that it’s important to be consistent with my daily schedule and ensure that my team is functioning from a healthy place.
Deep Work, Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World reminds leaders that one’s soul must find solace before one’s organization gains influence. “The deep life, of course is not for everybody. It requires hard work and drastic changes to your habits.” However, Deep Work reminds readers that God’s deep grace gives us a deep life.
Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016), 69.
Ed Stetzer, “Why Your Church Should Be On Social Media Right Now,” Christianity Today, February 10, 2015, https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/february/why-your-church-should-be-on-social-media.html.
Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016), Pg. 186.