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.