Distractions are everywhere. Yesterday it was cancelled flights, new airports, missed meetings and a stranded car. Today it will be work itself – rearranging things on a list to catch up from time missed. Add to that the expense reports, airline credit forms and chasing small details and I can already feel the day getting away from me. Have I had too much coffee? Yes.
Managing the distractions to maintain focus is always the goal. I’m a dreamer and struggle with the focus every day. I have to create and maintain the vision of my outcome to keep me energized through the day – most of the time it’s easy. Using an analogy works for me because it’s a way to re-frame the circumstances into something I can see will be successful. Take a look at this simple explanation published in The Psychological Record, written by Michael Boerger and Tracy Henley:
By drawing attention to similarities between some new piece of information and information that has been stored previously, they provide a framework for recognizing and understanding the new information more easily.
Changing and aligning a framework is a skill leaders develop over time. I’ve done this for several years in a wide range of contexts and it does provide that simple positive result. People accept and implement change when they have a framework that’s compatible with their method to learn and grow.
I manage my distractions in the same way a driver navigates heavy traffic on the highway: analyze risk and compare to goals, then take action and repeat. How do you manage your distractions?
I know where my sensitive spots are. I protect them more people realize and that plan has worked well for years. I recently had a mentor ask me if I had considered being more vulnerable to others and struck me as odd. I have a view of my emotional persona that says I’m already that way. I’ve also had people tell me I’m driven, focused and intense. Does this put up a barrier for others to discover the ‘me’ that lies beneath the casual conversations?
There is only one person to which I am completely vulnerable and that’s my wife. We’ve worked hard to build the safe spaces in our relationship to allow for hard conversations. So far a it’s paid off many times over. I’ll keep working hard to make sure it always does.
Sitting in a hotel lobby affords another chance to watch people. To my right is a person watching the Star Wars teaser trailer. He speaks English with a thick accent but his native tongue sounds almost melodic. What’s not lost in his words is the joy of watching those characters come to life. He shares a culture touch point with millions around the world. I find myself smiling too, reaching for my phone to watch the same thing. My fortunate timing in the hotel lobby helped but a smile on my face.
I travel a lot and see a large part of the United States. I’ve learned that people, for the most part, are kind and polite. Don’t believe everything you see on TV or read online because the good out there is working looking for. On this trip, I’ve watched people give up good seats on a plane to help a mother with a sleeping baby. A young person stopped to help someone older navigate the confusing airport concourse. Everyone smiled at the cute puppy brought on board to help someone cope with a stressful trip. Best of all, my sendoff from Branson was a gaggle of workers stopping to wave goodbye with genuine smiles.
The good in us all is on display every day. Don’t be afraid to look for it, encourage it and return the example.
It’s been two years since I’ve written here. Part of me thinks that’s kind of sad, but that’s easy to dismiss. I’ve been going through some of my old weblog posts from the Radio UserLand days and it’s hard to pinpoint what changed.
I’ve been through a transition in the last two years. My job has changed enough to barely be the same. The company I work for is in the middle of a ‘down to the studs’ remodel and that’s healthy. I’d say that I’m in the same situation. It’s time to remodel.
The blog will never go away – it’s too much of a part of me to do that – but isn’t 2019 a time to revist the long form of writing? Something that isn’t a soundbite for Facebook or a passing picture for Instagram?
I reinstalled NetNewsWire for the first time in years on a Mac that was left for dead. 2019 is feeling a lot like 2003 and maybe that’s a good thing.
One of the toughest things about making changes in your life is defining a new “normal”. It’s hard to move against the inertia of existing habits, both good and bad. In my last post, I ran through a list of things on which I needed to focus, including structure. Today was my first day back in the office, and like all “Mondays” it got sideways quickly. My lesson from today is an easy one: anticipate the bad days with a plan.
Let’s try to start of 2017 and spend more time here. Writing on my weblog used to be something I would do often and I actually enjoyed it, but I never made it a priority and it’s languished. I look back on it with regret, and that’s wrong – it’s just a thing that happened.
I still work at CenturyLink but I got a promotion last year to management and it’s been a fantastic experience. I spent the last 6 1/2 months on the road most weeks, travelling across 6 states working with a team of fantastic sales engineers, and that caused me to reevaluate my life habits in general. Like most people, I have good days and bad so in 2017, I’m going to try to handle things by focusing on “streaks”:
Fitness: It’s a tired trope of blogs, but I’m going to try to streak for fitness. I live pretty close to a 24 hour gym and that means that I’ve got opportunity and motive to spend each day there, doing something active. If I can streak it to 7 days straight, then I’ll try for 2 weeks, then 4 weeks and hopefully the habit is built. I read about someone that spend last year running 2,016 miles and the idea of doing something like that for 2017 makes some sense. I can’t run that well, but walking/running for 2,017 miles throughout the year gives me a goal with perspective. I’m hoping that streaking gym time will push me in other directions like weights and general fitness.
Food: Food and good eating habits are in my brain, but I usually take an easy way out when I’m on the road for work. I’m going to find a way to avoid the bad stuff while out of the office and again, streak it until I find a new balance point. My focus is the streak of good decisions, not the meal-to-meal success or failure.
Structure: I’m planning my time more because with the new job, the “8-5” of the work day can be very random with priorities. I’m going to log my time spent on things during the month of January and use that as a skeleton of a schedule for future months.
I think 3 things are enough to focus on for now. I know from experience in previous years that these will deliver benefits on the side, like stress reduction, weight reduction and “happiness”.
I don’t write here much, and there’s probably good reasons for it. I spend time on Twitter (@stevekirks) and on the web forums for PilotEdge so this space get neglected. I’m still working for CenturyLink doing basically the same thing I’ve done for years: help people understand the technology they have and then help them understand the technology they need.
I keep thinking that this site is for personal items or longform writing, neither of which I’ve been motivated to write. Mostly it’s time–I like to write something of quality and not a blurb or comment–so that leaves me at a crossroads. I spend all day on a computer for work, then some evenings on the flight simulator, practicing or flying for fun, so writing seems like the furthest thing from my mind.
On April 13th of this year, I was finally able to take my first flight lesson. A gift from my dad, it was about and hour behind the controls of a Cherokee 140 out of the airport in Bolivar, MO (M17). It included a quick pre-flight walkaround, then a flight over to Stockton, MO for some basic maneuvers and back to Bolivar.
It was an experience I’ll never forget…
I’ve been flying using a home simulator setup for about the last year or more so much of the flight was familiar but the real life sensations weren’t. I was on sensory overload most of the flight but was able to fly the plane using the habits already in place from the time on the simulator. My instructor told my dad that “he’s a natural” and my dad was impressed that the landing was good remarking “if you’d greased it on the first flight I would have been shocked”.
It cemented the idea in my mind that I could indeed become a pilot. About a month later it was my birthday, and everyone chipped in to open a savings account in my name for flight lessons, filled with enough cash to get three lessons booked.
I’ll try to keep these posts updated as a log of what I do