I was playing golf the other day with the fellas. These guys all know each other well enough that we’re fairly irreverent, and we’re all good with that.
I was preparing to hit a chip shot and one of the more boisterous guys in the group was harassing me, loudly – because loud is the only volume setting he has. Typically, in a round of golf, that’s uncool. In our group, it’s the norm.
I didn’t bother waiting for him to shut up – it’s quite possible that if I had, I’d still be waiting – and I hit my chip. I flubbed it. Gave him stink eye. Said something like, “Any chance you could Shut The Front Door while I’m trying to chip here?!” He picks up my ball and replaces it where it was and gives me a “do-over”. And I took it.
You know what that is? WEAK! It’s weak that I accepted the do-over. It’s weak because I made some very distinct choices that warranted the result I got. I created that outcome. HE didn’t distract ME. I’ll explain in a moment.
Golf’s so interesting for so many reasons. One of them is the etiquette. Part of the etiquette is that you don’t distract players. You just don’t do it. God forbid you have an uncontrollable sneeze in the middle of someone’s backswing. And that’s an unintentional distraction.
Because of the “understanding” that you’re not to be “distracting”, golfers are notoriously distractible. Can you imagine going to a football game and having the players look up at you from the field and shushing you?! Or a hoops game and being told to sit motionless while someone’s shooting a free throw?!
You know what I’d love to see? Vuvuzelas at a golf match.
But I’m getting away from my original point. It was weak for me to take the do-over because I chose two things before I hit that golf shot:
- to execute while big mouth was jabbering, but even more important than that,
- to pay attention to him. I chose to take my attention off of the hole that I was chipping the ball into and to put it on my buddy. I chose that.
That’s the big point here.
What is a distraction? It isn’t something that happens TO YOU. It’s something that you pay attention to instead of what you WANT to be focused upon. So no one or no thing can distract you. You distract yourself.
You distract yourself by choosing (mindlessly) to put your attention on some other thing. And there’s always another thing. Even right now as you read this. There are likely several things that you could distract yourself with: sounds, sights, people, games, texts, etc. In fact, this very email message could be a distraction. You might be distracting yourself RIGHT NOW from something more important to you and more valuable than this message (which can no longer be possible since I just had you acknowledge it, which means you’re off the hook, it’s cool, you can keep on reading it because now you’re doing it on purpose!);)
Lasik surgery is a technology that instantly perfects one’s vision. I had the procedure a few years ago and can now see clearly, in perfect focus.
Until there’s a technology that instantly lasers our attentional focus, then we are on our own to strengthen it. You want to become less distractible and more dialed in?
Here’s how you do it – 3 steps:
- Own Your Attention. Stop assigning responsibility to anything external for your attention/distraction and take complete ownership of it.
- Become Disinterested… in everything but the thing. The most effective way to become lasered onto one thing is to be entirely disinterested in everything else. The best training tool I know of for that is this: The Gap
- Get Target Focused. When I’m training athletes we always discuss target focus. Get your mind’s eye connected to the one thing – the super specific target (the paint chip on the back of the hoop, the loop in the back of the hockey net, the speck inside the lip of the golf hole, the one bulb in the scoreboard behind the football uprights, the bullseye inside the hole inside the bullseye left by the last perfect arrow). Pick your super-specific target…
Your top 3 projects for the week:
- The 5 big things you must do to move forward on each one
- The 3 people you most need to reach out to today
…and choose to laser in on it. The more specific the target, the easier it is to get dialed in.
Nothing can distract you. You choose to shift your attention around. Choose to train your mind so that you can laser your focus like a master. So you don’t need a “do-over”!