Distractibility, Focus and Leadership

Last night I attended the Oregon Symphony’s performance of Igor Stravinski’s Petrushka. It was brilliantly performed with the addition of puppeteers and a live video feed onto a huge screen above the orchestra.

Carnival Chaos

The setting of Petrushka is a carnival and the musicians all had various parts to play to create the atmosphere. The percussion section were drinking and toasting each other in the back of the orchestra. The violin and viola sections all wore colorful shawls or hats and stomped their feet or got up and milled around while playing their part of this intricate music. Old world puppeteers kept the story of Petrushka playing out in the front of the stage while the orchestra went rogue. In the midst of all of this, a real life procession of carnival performers and animals entered the stage. The infamous Portland unicyclist wearing his Darth Vader mask, playing the bagpipes, led this procession. It was chaos!

I am not sure any of us knew what to focus on and, consequently, didn’t really hear the music.

The Office Can Feel Chaotic.

As leaders life at the office can feel like that. The trouble with too many distractions is that we cannot focus. Sally Helgesen calls it “Letting your radar distract you.”

We have to be aware of our radar and what it is sensing, but we also have to know when and what to focus on. Our radar should never get in the way of accomplishment.

Leaders have challenges with social media, interruptions and hundreds of emails that bombard their senses all day. As a result, they have to have strategies to control where they place their attention.

Two Simple Strategies

Make sure that everything that is important for you to do is scheduled and is on your calendar.

Find a strong reminder that will bring your attention back to the task you should be focusing on.

I have a note right in front of me that asks: Is what I am doing right now moving my business forward?

What tools do you use to bring your focus back to real work? If you need help with answering that question satisfactorily, email me right now to get some practical ideas to get you to focus immediately.

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