Distraction is Message and Tool
Learn how to interpret the message and when to use the tool.
“Distracted from distraction by distraction.” — T.S. Eliot
A balance must be struck between focus and the lack of it.
We cannot wall ourselves off completely from distraction. The danger in distraction lies not in the distraction itself but in the tendency to dwell there overlong and in conflict with what serves us.
Distraction is a necessary part of life. It has many benefits. One is the message it carries. Another is the useful tool it becomes when the message is understood.
Intense focus on one thing can only last so long. Distraction may be telling you it is time to rest and recharge. Heed this message and your ability to focus is strengthened. Ignore it and your ability to focus is diminished.
Big or unfamiliar things are scary. You are conditioned to avoid them. Distraction here is a protective mechanism. Break down big things into smaller things. Face the unfamiliar with a friend or by focusing on what you have to gain.
“This is painful.”
Painful things are also scary. Face them head on by channeling distraction to the mind while the body endures. Distraction can enhance performance during stressful acts if it inspires and empowers.
“I’m not interested.”
Boredom makes you restless. Distraction here is a yearning for something of interest or meaning to sate the need for fulfillment. It also serves as a signal highlighting inefficient operation. If you must continue, try doing so in smaller increments.
“There is something else I must do.”
Things of importance need doing. The mind reminds you of these things as they are recalled. If you can't resolve them in the moment, record them such that your mind is put at ease.
Distraction is both a message and a tool. Learn to interpret the message and when to apply the tool. Your ability to focus and perform at a high level depends on it.
🤔 Food for Thought:
Have you always viewed distraction as a bad thing?
Can you think of other messages distraction delivers?
Can you think of other ways in which distraction can be used as tool for increased focus and performance?
⚙️ One Small Step:
My favorite use of distraction is during intense physical workouts. Turning up the volume on a powerful playlist distracts me mentally from the pain and motivates me to break through higher levels of performance. Give it a try!