A blog for the honest readers amongst us 🙂
Who doesn’t know this word? It is the cousin of Procrastination and the bedfellow of Important. In fact, anything in life, personal or business, which takes more time to perfect than a morning cup of instant coffee, can go from Important to Distraction in seconds. If you still don’t believe me, sit to down to pray and “focus your thoughts” as you begin to worry about the “Sunday roast” – no wonder that ministers have a hard time of it!
Important often takes it out of you. You need to place it front of mind and concentrate on it over a period of time. Whatever’s important probably has a combination of thinking and executing, over time with a sense of discipline and consistency. Stephen Covey, in First Things First, uses the matrix we’ve discussed before, around the issues of Urgent vs Important. For most of us these days, Urgent [Urgent/Urgent in the matrix] things are emails and WhatsApp; the frenetic activity first thing in the morning to clear the stuff before work so that I can, well….work. But that is work, we say! Juxtapose that against building the character of a child or teaching a teenager to become a man – the Important/Important block [at the top of the matrix], and we are talking the real stuff of life rather than the froth on top of our next beer. Are we distracted as much doing emails – No? But a teenager – different story!?
Enter Procrastination. I find most of us talk about time-wasting rather than the wasters of time. Procrastination is normally the big English word we all know. Putting things off, from mowing the lawn to fixing the lamp to writing the email that is not pleasant, to sorting out conflict etc, etc, is well-covered ground if you’re human and involved in relationships. Oh, how we sidestep the issues and just “wait for something to happen.” What are you doing about it? Nah, I’m just waiting for something to happen. Well, sometimes your patience and stillness pays off, but normally, two weeks later, that shrill voice says, “When are you going to fix the lamp?” And, so it often should, to awaken us from our wasting of time! Procrastination is well-known in business and a major reason why businesses become complacent. There is nothing like a cashflow crisis to shake everybody from their business-as-usual slumber and to get them going and understanding that things need to be done. I have used the analogy before of a 4X4 entering mud. You go in with a measure of confidence and eventually you find yourself sinking deeper and deeper until you’re just wheel-spinning. Such is the complacency of low to zero growth as we’re currently experiencing – you just don’t feel it for a while and then when you wake up and stop procrastinating, you realise there is serious work to be done to keep the business moving forward. Hopefully, it is not too late. A great leadership trait has always been to shake-up the business in the good times by reminding people that salaries are not guaranteed and getting them is a combination of hard work, application and customer service; the rules never change in business. Frankly, things never change in families either and we often need to feel hurt in order to change and even, progress.
So, we’re adept at procrastination but what are those time-wasters, those distractions, that steal the capability of any determined person to accomplish what is Important? Rather than give you a list, let me cover one thing that is common to us All. That one thing is invisible but real to each of us – our thoughts. It is hard to believe that thoughts can hold such sway over us – completely intangible but very powerful. They can make you smile and make you sweat. They make a man a boy and a boy, a man. They are the bedrock of bravery and the sinking sand of weakness. They are unique to you and I – each thought in its own time and place – and yet, so much of our human experience is driven by common ground no matter who you are and what your standing in life. Thoughts take place in the pre-frontal cortex [PFC] of the brain, just behind your forehead bone, where the stage of life plays out your day. Sitting here looking out the glass doors at a windless Spring day, yes, even now, my thoughts are racing. What to write next, what to prepare for tomorrow’s boards, remembering the farmers’ protests across the country [hopefully totally peaceful and effective], wondering what time my wife will return from her Soup Kitchen and her tea with a friend – thoughts pulsate in and through my PFC. Some take root, some dance like butterflies and move on; none have stopped me to waste time..yet. What about you as you read this and nod your head? What is wasting your time as it seats itself beyond the PCF. Some are physical [so go to the bathroom], some are mental [so check your bank account balance to see your monthly commission] while others are emotional [apologise for that harsh word with your child] and some may even be spiritual [a sense of fear of the unknown in this beautiful, tortured country of ours]. Whatever thought takes root in your mind just beyond the PCF can be or become the time-waster, a Distraction. So what is just beyond the PCF? Without the big names, it is the seat of your emotions and experiences. You see [and experience], when a thought takes root in the PCF, our stage of mental activity, if we allow it to rest there we will quickly make the connection with our emotions and/or experiences. Simple example: you see a red rose and before you even bend down, you smell the scent of the rose in your imagination. In fact, you may even smell again to check if there is no scent “like last time”. Take something less trivial: you have a fight with your spouse in the morning and the whole day, you break away from what you’re needing to do, to replay the fight and the response, in your mind. Emotions running wild or previous experiences reinforcing a current thought, play havoc with your ability to focus. And focus is what’s needed even for quick, yet important, things. No wonder the Book of Joy by Desmond Tutu and The Dalai Lama, reminds us that joy in any sense of the word, begins with Perspective. If you want a distraction, have a negative perspective on an activity. I often think Attitude [the positive one] is half the battle won. You see, a long time before you make another cup of coffee, get up to check the weather, sit back and think about something off the point, you’re thinking. No wonder the Good book admonishes us to, “take our thoughts captive.” Nothing like thoughts wastes our time – thoughts are the genesis of Distraction.
Once again, for some of you, this is old hat. But for some, a jerk of conscience may just be the medicine you need to re-focus and get on with the Important things you need to deal with. Homeloan Junction is made up of people just like you. We need to take Distraction to heart just like the people who read our blogs. If this reminder has helped you do that, goodie. If not or if not required, well done and be radically successful in what you want and need to do.
Yours in Property.