Recently, I watched the Science channel (which I enjoy). I find myself curious more about the people behind the concepts than the concepts themselves. For instance, http://science.discovery.com/tv/through-the-wormhole/ with Morgan Freeman one of the scientists starts talking about time and string theory. This is the part that I love the most the first thing they say is something like this “We don’t know and we may never know about what we are talking about but we think a lot about this and we may come up with answers that we can’t verify.” Isn’t that interesting? I read the Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson some time ago, in it he started every area of science with “we don’t know a lot about this but.”
I call this “The Distraction Factor.” We know of many things that are what they are but we want them to be something else so that we can deal with what is distracting us rather than deal with the actual problems themselves. Science is important and we do find unintended answers to questions we may have asked elsewhere but what is the cost? (Transition) I am simply using this situation as an example of things we do everyday practically everywhere. Where I work people get hung up on concepts that they “deep dive into” and they stay with these concepts and drown in them. I have thought about this a lot over the years and today I decided to write a little about it.
What is this “Distraction Factor” and why is it important to recognize and point out?
Generally at work we don’t talk about distraction, we just get distracted. Here is a reference on Distraction and Dissonance. Today distractions are amplified to an extent that makes it apparent to us. What I mean by that is that we can all identify with being distracted. It is almost like asking someone if they have a cell phone or some social media account. Chances are if you asked people about distraction they would acknowledge and have a lot of areas to identify distractions. “SQUIRREL”– reference from the movie “Up”. If you are reading this chances are you know what it means. Did I get away from the discussion? My kids just came in arguing about a game. I got an email and a text, oh my phone is ringing. These are things that are easy to see but what about the distractions as identified in the beginning of this blog? I want to solve world hunger as I watch a pumpkin chucking contest on TLC. I want to solve the mysteries of the universe and I will devise complicated math problems to do this knowing that I can’t validate my answers.
The greatest scientific minds are distracted? We have real problems that we all but ignore because we are walking on the intellectual treadmill. I guess I have made my point clear enough, we are ADD/ADHD as a society and at the same time we are intently focused on things that MAY not matter. As I am writing this my wife and kids are playing with out me. I am distracted from them with this and for what? Who am I writing this for? What good will this do? How much will this time cost me? Who keeps you distracted? Why? Do you know that you are distracted? How much is your distraction costing you? How much does your distraction cost me?
Here is what I am suggesting to you. We need to pay careful attention to the distractions in our lives and understand what they are taking us away from. What is it that you really want to accomplish? Last week I wrote about how my boss called me to a meeting, asked me to participate and later was distracted by email. If we calculate the time of all the people in the meeting and we look at the net result of the meeting what we will find is a LOSS. That particular situation is popular as many friends commented that they felt the same pains. We aren’t going to be able to deal with all of the distractions but if we take time to realize when, where and how we are being distracted we can start to limit their effect on us. The other areas of concern is that some of us want to live in the distraction and for those of us that do anything that I am saying right now will make sense BUT not for them. Getting back to my example if I asked (Steve) to think about something else he would most probably ignore my request. Here is my final point where distraction meets practicality. If Steve is studying and working on something that is beneficial to everyone but we don’t know why or how and we can’t validate or verify this, he should pay for it. The real question (for thought) is how am I distracted and how much does this cost you?
Opening our eyes to this is our first step in dealing with ….. I need to get some coffee be right back.