It’s hard to get. It’s hard to hold. It’s hard to focus. It’s hard to even give it to others.
That’s the nature of the era we live in – we are more distracted than we’ve ever been.
Rob Hatch of the Human Business Way recently wrote:
“A small blue square, the letter ‘f’ in white relief, and a little red dot in the corner showing the number 1, can choke your entire morning.”
You know what he’s talking about? I do.
Distraction. Crazy fast, ever-present distraction.
Things used to be a lot simpler. But they’re not anymore, and that’s the end of it. There’s no going back.
We live in a wonderful time where we can instantly share almost anything. We can also instantly be distracted from what really matters.
The funny thing is that while the channels are new – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. – distraction is an ancient problem. People have been distracted from what matters most since the creation of the world.
New distractions will always come.
For example: I can do what it takes to beat Facebook or any social network, for that matter. I’ve done it already. For the last seven years, I’ve never installed an internet connection in my home.
Personally, I think I’m a happier man for it.
And even without the net in my home, I’m not distraction free.
When work or study must be done – there’s always something else on my mind.
I want to eat. I want to play chess. I want a nap. Stuff like that.
Seriously – I could lock myself in a empty white room with just a textbook, some blank pages and a pen, and I think I could still figure out a way to avoid work!
Discipline helps us beat distraction, but it’s not the solution. Surprisingly, though, there is another way.
I read some fascinating research recently from Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. To quote:
“When we know something that needs to be done but isn’t currently getting done, we often say, ‘I just need more discipline.’ Actually, we need the habit of doing it. And we need just enough discipline to build the habit…
So when you see people who look like “disciplined” people, what you’re really seeing is people who’ve trained a handful of habits into their lives. This makes them seem “disciplined” when actually they’re not. No one is. You don’t need to be a disciplined person to be successful.”
The power of HABITS.
It sounds crazy, but I’m beginning to accept the research. After all, this isn’t a new idea! A bit over two thousand years ago, Aristotle said:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”
We need discipline. But we need to wield our discipline to build habits.
What’s the difference between totally disciplining yourself and just disciplining yourself enough to build habits? It’s the difference between micro-management and delegation.
Would you rather micro-manage every aspect of your life? Or delegate the small things to habits – and let your habits auto-run your important routines?
I’m thinking about habits like:
– Setting apart time for our best work?
– Shutting out distractions – and working in places with less distractions?
– Getting enough rest and exercise to be energetic enough to work?
– Remembering why we do what we do?
If we could do these automatically without struggling over the decisions, we’d be much better ready to do our best work!
So, what do you think?
Agree? Disagree? And what habits are you building into your life?
Related post: Are your habits leading towards disaster? Here’s 18 questions to find out.
Photo credit: peasap and bearhunter via Compfight