Seduced By Distraction: 3 Options

As I prepared to write this article, I remembered that I hadn’t checked out wsj.com that morning. As my Google Ipage came up, there was espn.com with a headline about Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell accusing the NFL leadership of being “woosies.” This led me to consider the weather, then a Facebook update about our holiday in Arkansas, until I looked at my WordDoc with the title “Seduced by Distraction.”

Fortunately, this seduction lasted only 10 minutes and was followed by a very productive morning. But the point was made. One can betray important commitments by avoiding necessary engagement and focus.

My grandfather used to warn me that “you get in trouble when go looking for it,” which I waved off as “what does he know?” Based on my professional experience, including working with successful CEOs, he knew a lot. Each of us are uniquely wired, but each of us can waylay our success. Here are some common ways to stay focused:

  1. Set your foundation with an emphasis on longer-term goals and the action necessary to achieve them, as well as the likely distraction that will interfere with your progress. Predicting problems usually reduces the likelihood of their occurrence.
  2. When you schedule a time period like a morning to make business contacts, do not deviate. When you schedule more contemplative activities (e.g. writing), disable potential distractions and inform others who you will “use” to enable your distraction. It is amazing how a conversation about changing Sunday Night Football to Tuesday night can be transformed into a discussion about the future of American society, including the woosification of our culture.
  3. As you become distracted, you will have a point where you disengage from you commitment. It happens to everyone and it signals an opportunity to check yourself and reinvest in the original commitment or negotiate for the future.

The metaphor of seduction is appropriate. When you are looking away from your original commitment, you will find something that can become alluring. As you pursue it, the distraction can even become sexy by your invention. But somehow, I can’t imagine espn.com will have a lot to do with my professional and personal success.