“Stop that!”

“Why are you doing that?”

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

That’s me. Yelling at me.

Well, scolding myself in a video that has already been recorded, published, and now pissing me off.

I was recently interviewed by a fellow Rotarian as part of a series of podcast-style videos on our vocations and years in Rotary service. Forrest did a terrific job of asking questions, none of which I knew in advance, which is my preference.

The indignity at myself wasn’t about my answers. It was about the annoying and infuriating thing I unknowingly kept doing.

As each question was answered, I kept looking off to my left. It was is I were reading notes from a flip chart or checking to make sure that Bella wasn’t getting into trouble. The problem? Bella was upstairs sleeping, there’s no flip chart, and the only thing to my left is a light stand and my autographed print of Mickey Mantle.

I knew there was some psychological reason for looking left when answering questions, but I didn’t remember it. So a quick bit of research uncovered that this might be a sign of using the left side of the brain to think logically, whereas looking to the right is using the creative side of the brain. This is NOT a missive on science. True or not, in the end it doesn’t matter…the motion was maddeningly annoying.

It’s now a point of emphasis for future interviews both in-person and virtually. The last thing I want to be is distracting.

Distraction is visible in many shapes and sizes. The key element in distraction is less about the distraction itself and more about what we are losing sight of in the process.

While writing content (like this article), the television can’t be on. If I’m working on a consulting project, background music will be a distraction, so it’s turned off. If you’re like me, seeing unread emails might cause a distraction, so the window is hidden on the computer. These are pretty simple issues; however the more inconspicuous distractions can be troublesome…

How many times have business or company meetings gone off track badly because a complication distracted us from the real issues and agenda?

How many times has an individual (either professionally or personally) declared some politically charged topic that threw everyone off course into a combative situation? (That never happens nowadays, does it?)

Or how about that highly emotional personal situation that we can’t shake? In my own life, it’s been times of worry and caring for family members in crisis, challenging financial times in business, and burdens brought on by outside activities (e.g. boards of directors, elected official, etc.).

What about you?

Distraction is a state of mind. We allow all of the aforementioned things to rent space in our brains. We are human and eliminating distracting thoughts is impossible. The goal for each of us as we keep chasing unleashed should be to better minimize them.

A final thought for your consideration: The story about my incessant head movement is a commentary on being a distraction to the viewer, which will be corrected. We have the capability of becoming a distraction – and sometimes destructive – to others through our words and behavior. Maybe we should set goals to keep our eyes and attention fixed forward in an effort to be most effective in supporting each other as we traverse the journey together.

Keep chasing unleashed.

Quote of the Week:

“This is the precept by which I have lived: Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes.”

~ Hannah Arendt (20th century German historian)

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