Listen to it:

This past week, I sat through a couple of days of Continuing Education classes being held online. The instructor sits in his home office and goes through a series of slides to help us understand and learn. For me, this is an update, so I simply need to show up and occasionally confirm my attendance. For others, they are going to take an exam to work towards their designation.

To be clear from the outset, the instructor is intelligent and an expert on his topic. The issue that I quickly noted came from the delivery aspect. We all have a “favorite filler” when we speak. I acknowledge mine is “so;” others use “uhm,” uh”, and “and.” These fillers can cause a small level of distraction to the audience, depending on how much it’s used.

For my instructor, the distraction was off the charts.

I soon realized he used the word “okay” in the form of a question at the end of a sentence. For example, “When you add three to the number two, the sum of those is five, okay?”

He didn’t use this once in awhile. It was constant.

I decided to do a little experiment. I took separate 10-minute sample sets at the four different hours and counted how many times he said “okay.” The average of the four sample sets was 61. Not kidding. Of the four sets, the low was 58 and the high was 65. In other words, this wasn’t a coincidence. Based on this average, over the four hours, he would say “okay” over 2,400 times.

You can see I was distracted. I left the topic and became obsessed with this diversion. I became a statistics geek and I don’t even like math!

Two morals of the story…

First, identify what distracts you and take steps to correct it. While I wasn’t disciplined enough to do that here, the purpose of my being part of the program was mostly attendance. It was however a reminder to me that I can get distracted by things that take my attention away from what I’m doing that day, and projects that require my deep attention. That’s my definition of mental toughness; being able to overcome the noise, the chaos and the shiny objects to focus on what’s right in front of me.

Second, are you a distraction to someone else? The instructor also has a duty to not distract. As a professional speaker, I know that it’s on me to keep people engaged.

You may not be a speaker, but you do have people whom you have responsibility for leading, managing, and  influencing. It may be via communication or behavior. Are you a distraction rather than someone who inspires? Would people me more productive or be improved if you were more focused in your message?

We all can be better when it comes to our own mental discipline and toughness and how we engage with others. I hope this story will be a catalyst for all of us improving in both areas.


Be unleashed.

Quote of the Day:

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much..”

~ Jim Rohn

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Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.


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