DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Deep Work Equals a Deep Life

Written by: on October 10, 2018

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.”[1] 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.”[2] 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.”[3] 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.[4]

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.”[5] 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[6] 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.”[7] However, Deep Work reminds readers that God’s deep grace gives us a deep life.

 

 

[1]Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016), 69.

[2]Ibid., 13.

[3]Ibid., 191.

[4]Ibid., 208.

[5]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. 

[6]Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016), Pg. 186.

[7]Ibid., 263.

About the Author

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Colleen Batchelder

I speak at conferences, churches, companies and colleges on intergenerational communication, marketing, branding your vision and living authentically in a ‘filtered’ world. My talks are customized to venue needs and audience interests. My passion is to speak with organizations and bridge the intergenerational gap. I consult with companies, individuals, churches and nonprofit organizations and help them create teams that function from a place of communication that bridges the generational gap. I’m also the Founder and President of LOUD Summit – a young adult organization that presents workshops, seminars and summits that encourage, empower and equip millennials to live out their destiny and walk in their purpose. When I’m not studying for my DMin in Leadership and Global Perspectives at Portland Seminary, you can find me enjoying a nice Chai Latte, exploring NYC or traveling to a new and exotic destination.

5 responses to “Deep Work Equals a Deep Life”

  1. mm M Webb says:

    Colleen,
    It was such a pleasure to meet you at HK! Thanks for joining our LGP8 team. I appreciate your review of Newport and critical analysis of his limited laboratory assumptions on how people(s) get things done. While I like his feel-good ideas, not everyone is wired the same way nor called to lead in the same contexts. I suspect Newport has never had to multi-task in the operational context that he challenges others to surrender. In short, his strategy will probably work good for leaders in low-risk, high-probability situations but I think lacks discernment and experiential depth for the high-risk, low-probability situations that some leaders must prepare for and lead through.
    Great post!
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

    • Thanks so much, Mike!

      I was great meeting you and your wife too! I miss you all so much. NJ is too quiet. I’m definitely looking forward to London/Oxford.

      It was interesting reading Newport again and seeing his text from a new perspective. I still found his take on social media and technology extreme, but I was able to implement more of his ideas within my leadership context. You make a great point when you observe, “I suspect Newport has never had to multi-task in the operational context that he challenges others to surrender.” I came to similar conclusions about Newport. His methods worked within structures of established organizations but did not apply for startup companies. What ways do you create space for deep work? I’d be interested to know what you found most useful for you.

  2. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    excellent work. Thanks for sharing a little bit about 3 years and a thousand hats. I think I shared with you a little bit in Hong Kong, of how I am attempting a 12 month ramp down in my life, and trying to get my ideal pace and structure of life as of july 2019. I recently just resigned from one of my four jobs. I hope this will allow me to do more with less, and have A LOT more deep work.

    glad youre with us!!

  3. Colleen,

    So glad to have you as part of cohort 8! Thanks for the great conversations from Hong Kong.

    I empathize greatly with your dilemma. I’m also a solo entrepreneur and it is really hard to shut down the noise because there’s no one else besides oneself to handle all the requests and demands for attention that come on a daily basis. (Actually, I’m not quite solo – I have a fantastic office administrator, Linda, who I’ve relied on for 15 years now. We are a great team.)

    But I would encourage you to give space to Newport’s approach. One thing I’ve done is block off my daily calendar with deep work hours and let the other time slots in the day be allocated to shallower work… that’s where I am fitting in my emails and social media.

  4. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Colleen,
    Hope you are conquering that jet lag! It hit me hard too. Great to hear your perspectives on reading Newport twice! It’s nice to be a few years down the road and look at your work differently. I’m glad to hear you have the time and space in your life now to implement deep work. Have you mapped out how this might work? I’ll be anxious to hear the fruits of your “labor”.

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