A pig got out of his pen and wandered through an estate down the country road. He went behind the stables and wallowed in a huge mud puddle. He then rummaged and ate his way through a compost heap and garbage bins near the manor house. Since there was no one around, he wandered through the courtyards and estate grounds, sniffing the dirt and rooting through some of the beautifully manicured lawns and well kept gardens. When he finally returned to his farmyard, the hens eagerly asked for a report.

“What did you see through the windows of the huge mansion?” they asked. “We’ve heard there are stately rooms, tapestries, fine furniture, beautiful paintings by the masters, and gold and silver everywhere.” “I saw nothing like that,” snorted the pig. “There was only mud, rot, garbage, and dirt everywhere I looked.”

We find what we focus upon. Whether I think my world is full of richness and opportunity, or garbage and despair — I am right. It’s exactly like that — because that’s my point of focus. By focusing there, I turn my expectations into reality. My focus is intertwined with the context of my life. That context is set by the people I associate with, my discipline and habits, my perceptions of “reality,” my optimistic or pessimistic outlook, whether I see change as a threat or an opportunity, the responsibility I take for my choices, my sense of who I am, my authenticity, my passion and commitment, my spirit and purpose, my personal growth and development, and how I energize myself and others.

The focus and the context of our lives, teams, or organizations are shaped by three vital questions; where am I going (my vision or picture of my preferred future); what do I believe in (my principles or values); and why do I exist (my purpose or mission)? These questions are at the center of our lives. They are central to our choices, authenticity, passion and commitment, spirit and meaning, growth and development, and ability to energize and mobilize others.

Visions are values projected into the future. Both flow from purpose. Vision, values, and purpose are interconnected and inseparable. Sometimes they operate like a combination lock, each twist and turn of the dial doesn’t appear to do much, but when they are all lined up, the future we dare to dream of clicks open. Another way to think of the Focus and Context of our lives is like a powerful magnet that attracts the positive or negative people, circumstances, and events I’ve asked for. Like other natural laws (such as gravity), the law of magnetic attraction is being fulfilled today whether I am aware of it or not. If I want to change what’s being attracted to me, I’ll need to change the magnetic field I’ve surrounded myself with. If the last five years haven’t attracted the people, circumstances, and events that I want, now is the time to change what I am drawing toward me in the next five years.

Take a look at your last five years. Have you attracted the people, circumstances, and events that you want? If not, now is the time to change what you will draw toward yourself for the next five years.