The Confusion that Leads to Distraction and Overwhelm

guest post by Alain Hunkins – Pioneer Leadership

sirensSome months back, I shared a post (The Antidote to the Interruption Age) about how we’re no longer in the information age–we now live in the interruption age.

Do you feel more overwhelmed and distracted than you used to?

If your experience is anything like many of the leaders I work with, you probably answered yes. 

Part of the reason we’re so much more distracted than ever before is quite simple:  there are a lot more things to distract us than ever before.

Before technology enabled us to create a boundary-less world where we could work, connect and consume 24/7, we didn’t have this kind of access.  It’s as if we’re now swimming in a perpetual ocean of information.

As exciting as riding these waves this can be, this swimming can easily turn into floundering–on a good day, we’re treading water.  On a bad day, it can feel like drowning.

The cause?

We confuse opportunity with priority.

Opportunity.  

It’s a shiny, glittering window that magnetizes the senses.  Looking through its frame is thrilling.

Like the Sirens that called to Odysseus, opportunity offers you possibilities at every turn. There are the obvious distractions:

  • Read this about this horrible tragedy/natural disaster!
  • Learn about what great lives your friends are having!
  • Get the inside scoop on your favorite celebrity!

or the more subtle ones:

  • Call this client back who never buys, but is real friendly to talk to.
  • Check in with a colleague to once again “vent at the appropriate level”.
  • Read more articles on what I’m working on, because I need to do more research before producing.

Opportunity is sneaky:  it travels at the speed of thought, so you can imagine a glorious outcome without putting in any effort.

Priority moves slower.  It travels at the speed of action.   Rather than surfing the waves, working a priority means staying on shore, grounded and focused on whatever’s most important.

Priority translates into work.  What needs to be done right now?  What do I need to move forward?

  • Call these five prospects.
  • Do the laundry.
  • Finish that report.
  • Have that difficult conversation.

Opportunity is usually attractive and sexy.

Priority:  not so much.

I recently came across a quote that seems particular appropriate to this:

“Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.”

–Anonymous

What do you do to keep your priorities straight, and not get caught riding the waves of potential opportunities?  Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Alain Hunkins leads personal and professional development trainings for individuals, teams and organizations. Over the last two decades, Alain has facilitated for over a thousand groups, ranging from at-risk youth to Fortune 500 executives. He moves between the educational, artistic, not-for-profit, government and corporate worlds. Alain sharpened his facilitation skills as an Educational Consultant in New York City, developing programs on many subjects, including Conflict Resolution, Networking, Customer Service, Communication, and Leadership.

Alain earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College and his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee Professional Theater Training Program. He is a certified Leadership Challenge & MBTI facilitator, as well as a certified co-leader for ManKind Project International, whose mission is to help men lead missions of service in their families, communities, and workplaces. Alain completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 1995.

 

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